Thu, 08 Oct 2009 Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server review
Advanced features promise total control over your network
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Full 64-bit power will be welcome in a server environment; easy to set up; fantastic set of Web services; incredible Podcast Producer 2 application; remarkably cost effective compared to other server options.
- Cons: At its best when working with other Macs, especially ones running Snow Leopard; CardDAV standard in its early stages; Intel requirement rules out use on otherwise perfectly adequate G5 Macs; Podcast Producer 2 not as easy to setup as other services.
- Min specs: Mac computer with Intel processor, 2GB of RAM, 10GB of available disk space, some features have additional system requirements, see the Apple website for full details.
- Price: £399 including VAT (Unlimited Client License)
- Star rating:
You’ve got mail
Mail Server 2 is functionally similar to its previous incarnation, although Apple claims a new underlying engine is twice as fast as before. Like other services in OS X Server it offers push notification. Aside from that there is now built in holiday messaging support that automatically delivers replies (“I am away from my desk…” and so on) between set dates.
The mail server is surprisingly easy to set up and features fairly comprehensive spam, virus and junk mail filtering using a sliding scale and point system from 40 to 0, with 40 being liberal and 0 being a spam filtering nazi. Mac OS X Server uses the SpamAssassin service
You can also add a blacklist server such as SpamHaus. We don’t actually use Mac OS X Server for our Mail system, instead our office system is set up with Communigate Pro. We mention this because we haven’t tested Snow Leopard Mail Server in an industrial setting, but certainly from our review test it seems a great solution that’s far easier to set up and maintain than other systems.
Podcast capture and producer
One of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server’s unique features is an application called Podcast Producer 2, which actually consists of two applications: one called Podcast Composer runs on the server in conjunction with an application called Podcast Capture, which runs on clients.
The general idea is that you capture a podcast on the client Mac, most typically using a MacBook with a built-in iSight, and this is sent to the server for compression and distribution. The whole application is designed to make the production and distribution of podcasts as simple and trouble-free as possible.
There are four different types of podcast recording available: Video, Screen, Audio, and Dual. The Dual capture mode is pretty special, it records both the iSight image of yourself and the display of your Mac.
Podcast Composer is set up on the server side and handles the work bounced to it by clients running Podcast Capture. Setup is a seven step process that enables you to determine file formats, add pre- and post-roll video plus a watermark, publish the file, and notify users via services (such as iTunes).
It’s somewhat ironic that one of the most consumer friendly features of Mac OS X Server is one of the trickier areas to set up. Podcast Producer functionality isn’t enabled by default, and can’t be set up using the Server Preferences, rather you need to go to the more advanced Server Admin area and enable Podcast Producer in the Services area under Settings.
Once that hurdle is cleared client machines can run the Podcast Capture software to create podcasts that are the compressed and distributed via the server.
That said, we think the service is worth the effort to get working if creating and distributing podcasts is part of your life. The ease with which Podcast Producer 2 makes the creation and distribution of podcasts is astonishing, at least once you’re past the setup phase.
Podcast Capture enables you to record podcasts that combine both your desktop and a video feed; Podcast Producer compresses, stores and publishes your podcast to iTunes and other services.