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Daniel Eran

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photo Panther at your Service
Apple's OS X 10.3 Panther Server upgrade brings a new look, new capacities, more speed and a nicer interface.
Apple product managers presented key features of the upcoming Panther Server at "Driven by Design" a roadshow presentation for resellers, starting in San Francisco on October 13, 2003.

Samba 3 integration was the biggest news of the show. It allows Panther Server to act as a Primary Domain Controller for a group of Windows machines, serving them roaming profiles, login scripts and home directories, in addition to file and printer sharing. Beyond Samba 3, Apple highlighted a series of new and improved functionality in Panther Server.

In the core OS, Apple has updated OS X's BSD Unix to FreeBSD 4.8, with select features included from FreeBSD 5. They noted support for asynchronous I/O, tools to manage directory services from the command line, as well as command line tools to directly convert PostScript to PDF and sips, for scriptable image processing.

Automatic Setup is a new feature that allows administrators to generate a server configuration file, and then simply unbox and boot racks of new servers that all access the file to automatically configure themselves. Individual servers look for the configuration file on a portable FireWire drive or automatically download the settings by referencing a DHCP option 95 pointing to an LDAP directory server holding the configuration information.

The new Server Admin tool replaces both Server Status and Server Settings, putting all the configuration and monitoring tools for services in one clean interface. The tool adds graphic configuration tools for setting up DNS; the ipfw stateful packet monitoring firewall; NAT for Internet sharing and packet routing among network interfaces; VPN server services for both Microsoft's PPTP and the more robust L2TP over IPSec standard; NetBoot, Network Install and Net Image tools for creating disk images for remote installation and booting of network clients; and a new interface for controlling QuickTime Streaming Server. Server Admin allows for third party extensions to the interface, so vendors can add their own tools to manage services.

Another feature demonstrated in Server Admin was drag and drop configuration from one server to others. After selecting one server and completing a service configuration, an icon can simply be dropped on other servers to propagate an identical configuration.

Apple includes a JBOSS application server to allow hosting of existing JBOSS and J2EE applications, along with deployment tools for J2EE, and WebObjects integration for JBOSS to allow for robust transaction services on top of JBOSS. Apple also bundles MySQL 4, Perl 5.8 and PHP 4.3.

For Open Directory 2, Apple replaces NetInfo with an LDAP v3 based directory server using OpenLDAP and the directory optimized Berkeley DB. While still supporting the existing SASL password server from Jaguar, Panther introduces an MIT compliant Kerberos KDC. Apple demonstrated creating replicas of directory servers for isolated locations over a WAN.

Key to the Kerberos directory server authentication is a featured Apple calls Single Sign On. Access to all network resources and local management of users is tied to the directory server, allowing for immediate changes to access company wide. Users only authenticate once to access to all network resources that support Kerberos. Apple's Kerberos implementation also works within any existing MIT compliant Kerberos authentication infrastructure.

For mail services, Apple chose Postfix as their new SMTP mail server, Cyrus for POP and IMAP services, and bundles the Mailman list server and an improved SquirrelMail for web access. The system also supports SSL encryption for local mail transport.

Panther Server began shipping October 24, 2003.

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