Mac Leopard Server launched

Networking version of new OS gains praise

The enhancements to Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server include features ordinarily reserved for large enterprises.

Leopard Server is the networking component of Mac OS X Leopard. It uses a 64-bit Unix kernel and ships with a new version of Open Directory, which supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol proxy services, authorisation across domains and RADIUS authentication, among other features.

Leopard Server uses the same kernel as Mac OS X Leopard desktop. Because it is 64-bit enabled, it has access to the same amounts of memory as Intel 64-bit processors.

Leopard can also be integrated with Microsoft's Active Directory and includes clustering, email and calendaring servers.

The calendar server, which is licensed on a per server basis, has been aptly called Darwin — it lets users share their calendars with other users across the organisation. Calendars are stored in a central location and synchronised between user desktops. The Darwin Calendar Server uses the CalDAV protocol, which allows access to calendar events via WebDAV, and thus supports Microsoft Outlook and Leopard's iCal. It also includes a Podcast Producer, which allows the encoding, publishing and distribution of podcasts, and a wiki server, which allows users to collaborate with other users and build and edit wiki pages.

For developers, Leopard Servers also supports the web application framework Ruby of Rails and ships with Mongrel, a lightweight HTTP library and web server.

The Leopard Server is also expected to ship with a new wizard called the Server Assistant, which simplifies configuration and set-up. A new Server Preferences program makes it easy to create users and groups, configure firewalls and monitor utilisation.

From a storage standpoint, Leopard supports the Unix/Linux Network File System and clustering with the Apple Xsan array.

Additional features include:

-- Server Admin 4 with new file sharing and permission controls, tiered administration, and options for organising servers into smart groups.

-- iChat Server 2 to securely communicate over instant messaging with others on different systems outside an organisation's firewall.

-- External accounts to enable Leopard users to store their home directory on an external FireWire or USB portable drive.

-- A new System Imaging Utility that uses a workflow-based editor to create customised images that can include Boot Camp partitions.

-- Xgrid 2 featuring GridAnywhere for ad hoc distributed computing in environments without dedicated controllers, and Scoreboard for prioritising job distribution to the fastest available CPU.

-- QuickTime Streaming Server 6 with support for 3GPP Release 6 bit rate adaptation for smooth streaming when delivering content to mobile phones regardless of network congestion.

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