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Individual Computer Accounts and New Managed Preferences

On first use of Leopard Server, experienced administrators will notice that both Server Admin and Workgroup Manager have gotten a makeover.

The most obvious change is that the File Sharing configuration has been moved from Workgroup Manager into Server Admin.

Another obvious change in Workgroup Manager is support for individual computer accounts. These accounts function much like Computer Lists (which are now called Computer Groups) in previous versions of Mac OS X Server, except they apply to a single computer.

This is a great addition because it enables you to enforce managed preferences or restrict login access for a single computer.

Individual computer accounts are particularly helpful in working with the Mobility preference that allows users to log in to a portable computer using an Open Directory account even when off the network.

Because a user typically uses only a single mobile computer, this reduces the issues of users being asked whether they want to set up a mobile account whenever they log in at any computer in a computer list where the mobility preference is set (or every computer if the preference is set at the user or group level).

On the subject of managed preferences, Apple is introducing a series of additional preferences options in Leopard/Leopard Server, and many of the pre-existing preferences have been significantly updated with additional features.

In addition to the series of preferences previously available, administrators can define Time Machine settings for client backup (this can be set only for computers or computer groups because it backs up entire hard drives), the range of parental controls included with Leopard (great for schools), Dashboard settings (including whether users can install/manage widgets or even launch Dashboard), and options for restricting access to Front Row.

As with Tiger Server, the ability to manage additional applications is also available. Managed network views, however, have been removed (most likely because of Leopard Server’s new wide area Bon Jour feature that allows for the discovery of servers and resources on remote subnets using Bon Jour).

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