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Exploring the Server App in OS X Server

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Learn about the various panes available in the Server app, how to enable remote access to the Server app, and how to move the location your server uses to store much of its service data.

Once you’ve completed your initial installation and configuration of OS X Server and you click Finish at the Congratulations pane, the Server app opens its main configuration pane and you can continue configuring it. In this lesson you’ll learn about the various panes available in the Server app. You will learn how to enable remote access to the Server app and how to move the location your server uses to store much of its service data.

Reference 4.1. Allowing Remote Access

You can certainly administer your server on your server computer, however, even though OS X Server is now an application, rather than an entire operating system, it’s still not recommended to use your server for your daily productivity applications. Additionally, your server computer might be located in an inconvenient physical location.

You can use the Server app on a Mac with Mountain Lion to manage OS X Server running on a remote Mac, but only if the checkbox “Allow remote administration using Server” is selected. It is recommended that you do not simultaneously use the Server app on more than one Mac to administer a given server.

Unlike previous versions of OS X Server, you cannot perform a remote initial installation and configuration of OS X Server with the Server app; you have to use the Server app on the Mac on which you want to install OS X Server, at least for the initial installation and configuration.

However, sometimes you need direct control of your server computer; for example, to perform a series of file or folder copy operations using the Finder. If you select the checkbox “Enable screen sharing and remote management,” you can use tools like Screen Sharing (available from the Tools menu in the Server app, and located in /System/Library/CoreServices), and Apple Remote Desktop (available from the Mac App Store) to take control of the Mac running OS X Server.

When you select the “Enable screen sharing and remote management” option, this allows access for any local accounts on the server computer that you configure as an administrator. If you want to allow access for other accounts, or specify a password for software that uses the VNC protocol, configure this in the Sharing preferences on the server computer.

The following figure illustrates the checkbox in the Sharing preferences that is enabled when you enable the checkbox for “Enable screen sharing and remote management.”

The “Allow remote login using SSH” checkbox in the Server app has the same effect as the Remote Login checkbox in the OS X Sharing preferences; selecting or deselecting either checkbox has the same effect on the checkbox in the other tool.

When you run the Server app on a remote administrator computer, if the “Allow remote login using SSH” option is selected, an arrow appears next to it. If you click this arrow, the Server app opens Terminal and attempts to connect to your server using the SSH protocol, with the username of the administrator account that you provided to the Server app to connect to your remote server computer. You must provide the password to successfully open an SSH connection.

Similarly, there is also a shortcut to open a Screen Sharing session with your server. This opens the Screen Sharing application, which allows remote observation and control of the remote server computer.

Of course, the checkbox for “Allow remote administration using Server” is not available for you to configure unless you use the Server app directly at the server.

The following figure illustrates the arrows that are shortcuts to open a connection to the server.

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