Apple OS X Server Keeps Kicking

Because who doesn’t love downloading their server software and tools via iTunes?

It’s alive! Apple has updated OS X Server to version 2.2. Although it’s not a major update, you can probably see it as further validation for the platform, which is often overshadowed by all the attention devoted to Apple consumer products such as the iPhone and iPad.

Apple detailed the changes in a support document; the free update is available through iTunes.

Some update highlights: a caching server function for speeding up downloads of software distributed by Apple through the Mac App Store; an updated Time Machine service, which monitors computer backups; and smaller fixes, including Wiki Server support for the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

OS X Server began life as the OS for the Apple Xserve, the server architecture Apple first launched in 2002. The Xserve represented a dedicated server thrust for Apple; the initial version included the PowerPC G4 processor, and was priced at either $2,999 or $3,999 depending on whether or not it had 256 meagbytes or 512 megabytes of memory. The Xserve G4, as it became known, transitioned to the Xserve RAID (with hardware support for RAID 0, 0+1, 1, 3 and 5, and up to 10.5 TB of storage) and then to the Xserve G5 and their “Woodcrest” Xeon processors, 2.25 TB of storage, and onboard graphics. In December 2011, however, Apple made the switch to the Mac Pro Server and Mac Mini Server, which essentially married the server OS with Apple’s existing hardware.

Today, Apple doesn’t sell a server-specific version of the operating system; instead, the company offers server-specific server applications, work-group management and administration software tools for Mac OS X Server as the Server app, which ties into Mac OS X. (Who would’ve thought that a server installation could be updated via iTunes?) Admins should also download the Server Admin Tools 10.7 package from Apple’s support site, Wikipedia notes, to manage client profiles and Apple’s Xsan storage area network products.

Although it’s probably fair to think of the Server App in the same vein as open-source software like Apache, it’s still a bit odd to think of a server OS—and one from Apple, at that—costing just $19.99. Snow Leopard Server, for example, was released in 2009 as a standalone product and cost $499.

Still, there have been questions about the suitability of Apple server hardware and software, and it’s not really known if Apple uses its own hardware and software inside its own data centers (even some version that hasn’t been publicly released).


Image: Apple