Traditionally, putting the words "Mac" and "server" together was a good way to get a laugh. Macintoshes made lousy file servers and even worse Web servers. But eWeek Labs tests of Apple Computer Inc.s OS X Server 10.1 showed the now-Unix-based Mac finally makes a good server.
The standard Mac OS X operating system has the same BSD-based architecture, which makes Mac OS X a decent server itself. What sets Mac OS X Server 10.1 apart from the standard edition are OS X Server 10.1s broad file and print sharing capabilities, which make good use of open-source technologies such as Samba; increased fault tolerance and support for RAID; intuitive server and network management tools; and a broad collection of server applications, including the QuickTime Streaming Server, MySQL, Tomcat and Web-Objects 5.
Its a simple matter to build a very similar (and less expensive) system using one of the freely available BSD operating systems, although such a setup would, of course, lack the intuitive Mac interface. We found that the Mac-based GUI management tools provided much easier administration than did the Unix-based versions of these tools.
The ability of Mac OS X Server to bring these powerful open-source networking capabilities into the Mac GUI environment makes it especially attractive to businesses or departments that are mainly Mac-based but have had to look at other systems to provide file sharing and other network services.
Mac OS X Server 10.1, which shipped this fall, is priced at $499 for 10 clients and $999 for unlimited clients. The server edition inherits all of the new features in the standard OS X 10.1, plus updated versions of many of the bundled applications.