The future of macOS Server

“If you use an iMac or a MacBook Pro, you may not realize that, with some additional software, you could turn that computer into a server, a computer that can share files, host websites, run a virtual private network, and much more,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Intego. “”

“Apple’s macOS and its predecessor Mac OS X have long been able to work as servers with the installation of a single $20 app,” McElhearn writes. “The Server app, available from the Mac App Store, provides an easy-to-use interface to configure and manage services that are built into macOS. You could run all these services without the Server app, if you know the right commands to turn them on and manage them from the command line, using Terminal, but the Server app makes it easy so almost anyone can do it.”

“Apple has said that they are “deprecating” certain services in macOS Server. They won’t be killing them off completely, but they are changing this software ‘to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network,'” McElhearn writes. “What’s next for macOS Server? The most likely direction it may take is that of being a true MDM (mobile device management) system.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The ability to manage multiple devices easily and quickly would be a godsend for home users.

In just one example, a three-person family, there are four Apple TVs, three iPads, three iPhones, two HomePods, three Apple Watches, and five Macs. That’s a lot of stuff to manage properly and efficiently!

Apple to deprecate raft of essential services in macOS Server this spring – January 30, 2018
Apple all but kills macOS Server – January 29, 2018
Mac administrators seeing changes on the horizon, new plans could alter how Apple machines are managed – November 10, 2016
Apple Mac servers: Why they still makes sense – March 23, 2015
A power user’s guide to OS X Server, Mavericks edition – December 10, 2013
OS X 10.9 Mavericks Server: Big changes for developers – November 1, 2013
Steve Jobs on Xserve cancellation: ‘Hardly anybody was buying them’ – November 08, 2010
Apple offers new $2999 Mac Pro Server to replace Xserve – November 05, 2010
Apple discontinues Xserve as of January 31; will continue to fully support existing units – November 05, 2010


  1. The loss of …


    …pushes me even further into the Windows and LINUX camp for enterprise services. Apple once again is making it painfully clear that they are not a computer company, they are not an advanced technology company, and that they are not an IT-focused company. They have ceded all of that along with gaming to Windows and Linux.

    Instead Apple is a lifestyle brand. Their target market is the wealthy consumer – not the prosumer. Their focus is on home automation, media consumption, entertainment, personal management, etc.

    If you say to Apple, I have a company with 100 people and I need to provide for the following services for those people, Apple waill say “Stop right there. Are we talking music and movies?”

    The problem here is that Apple’s competitors provide the services Apple IS interested in, just as well. When I take the back room to all Windows, it begins to make more sense for the office to be Windows as well. It is not hard to go from Microsoft Office for Mac to Microsoft Office for Windows.

    I may love macOS, but as I have been forced into it, I am learning to seriously appreciate Windows.

    So what happens when the guy who always pushed for Apple in the enterprise, the lone voice in IT, suddenly says, “Apple? Meh. I love my new Razer Blade Pro with Windows 10. I love Windows Everywhere! I love this tiny handheld laptop with Windows 10 on it. I love being able to build my own firebreathing rig from hell with Windows or Linux?”

    It becomes like Apple eating its own tail.
    Apple becomes the ouroboros. The snake eating its own tail.

    Year by year we see less from Apple in the way of IT. From the diminishing of automation to the gutting of server, the message is loud and clear.

    IT Pros look elsewhere.

    1. Just build and install all this stuff on Mac OS. It’s just UNIX. Admittedly Linux makes it a bit easier out of the box, but you can still do it easily enough.

    2. I hear you, but you need to get the proper perspective here. Data centre computing is a fringe market share for Apple. There are plenty of right reasons why Apple wouldn’t want to come anywhere near that business.

      Enterprise clients are an exceedingly demanding bunch. They need legacy support above all else. All the progress, centralised manageability, streamlining, power management, scalability, all that is nice and great, but if it doesn’t run a DOS and/or COBOL application, they won’t buy.

      Windows is precisely the bloated spaghetti code of mess because of the massive ball-and-chain of enterprise backward-compatibility requirements.

      Apple’s advanced technology has long ago stopped appearing in their Macintosh line of products (although on occasion, it still shows up there). Their focus is, for quite obvious reasons, on the mobile platform and consumer products. It isn’t Macintosh that drove AAPL to the largest market cap in the world; it is the iPhone (sure, Mac helped, but so did the iPod, iPad, App Store… the iPhone was the driver, though).

      Enterprise is quite welcome to go to an Apple store and buy Macs and use them. But there is no chance in hell Apple will make any exceptions, or compromise its road map for any of its products, just so that they can snag some whale of an enterprise customer away form Dell or HP. This will never happen.

      1. The real problem is even though we hear a lot about Apple and how they support Enterprise customers, they have not supported it enough for a lot of companies to take the plunge and dump Windows and PCs and replace everything with Macs and Mac OSX. And your right, compatibility for existing windows programs usually does not exist for this conversion. Most stuff would have to be written again from scratch. Now say your company has 1,000 – 5,000 workstations. What CEO or CIO in their right mind would say, “Let’s replace everything with MAC, because its cool and better than windows” The cost, not to mention the disruption would be disastrous. And that CEO or CIO would probably find themselves out of a job. Apple has forsaken Enterprise no matter what comes out of Cook’s mouth to indicate otherwise.

        1. No CIO would say that, but a lot are saying “let’s start supporting Macs for those that want one”. The companies that are doing that are winning out. It’s smart because it attracts the best talent.

      2. DOS and Cobol? Seriously? I haven’t seen a trace of them in ten years, except in archives. I haven’t seen card readers or magnetic tapes either. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Enterprise may value continuity for its cost benefits, but the crush of competition militates against that. You won’t find many firms still using red tape to tie up their ledgers.

        Apple has identified their place in the world of enterprise systems, and it isn’t on the back end, but the front end. 🤑

      3. I agree with you Predrag. It’s the same as pro-media folks. We all want Apple to pay attention to our niches. It’s not the end of the world or anything, especially not for Apple. Still, I worry what will happen as Apple alienates all these niches that were the foundation upon which they based their success.

        What happens as the pro-media people say “Meh?” It’s not like there aren’t competitors and in some cases better competitors. As Fred747 mentioned, LINUX and Microsoft Server are really far better systems.

    3. Apple’s enterprise strategy is actually smart – They are pushing cloud-based enterprise solutions for iOS. A strategy is more about what you DON’T do, not what you decide to do. Companies that operate on a “we’ll do everything/act on every idea” strategy don’t really have a cogent strategy.

      1. Two non starters for many businesses: iCloud and iOS. If you need secure local storage and robust private file management, Apple has no answer. iOS is not enterprise ready for anything other than simple dashboards, light sketching, and retail or clerking. Most businesses need much more, and they need to work with legacy and non-Apple hardware. Apple has failed businesses so many times, I don’t know why anyone would trust them now.

    4. Already starting to migrate. I am about to order a 2-in-1 to replace my MBA. It will run Linux. Apple does not care about Engineers, Scientists, and Mathematicians anymore. Every time they make a change to the OS they always end up breaking Intel FORTRAN. Just too many headaches with each patch.

    5. I think the real issue for Apple is the licensing terms of many of the opensource components used by Server have changed in a manner that makes it incompatible for distribution with the closed system macOS code.

      A very good example is bash that has not been updated for years and years because of this. Apple is still on version 3.2.57, while the official stable release is at 4.4.18

  2. The last, great iteration of Server was Snow Leopard Server OS, in which server was an integral part. Everything beyond that blows chunks. We still use SNS 10.6.8 for our X-servers to host email, going on 14 years now. Still works great.

  3. Given that Apple has recently been making great strides into the ‘enterprise’ space, it seems ironic to me that Apple is simultaneously crippling the one product that it makes which allows small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have enterprise-level control of their IT functions without the need to have a large IT department or having to outsource these IT functions.

    There are always new SMBs being created, and they don’t necessarily want their IT off-site, but they do want to have simply-managed services internally. Those services will eventually migrate to larger providers as the SMB grows, but I’m not convinced every business wants, or needs, its data off-site.

  4. Apple does not even use it’s own servers and back when they did make a server, they commonly used Sun Solaris and Windows.

    I seriously doubt anyone used Mac OS X server at any great scale and I wouldn’t take them seriously if they re-launched it today. Apple has a bad habit of dropping or overhauling stuff out of the blue. Ask those of us burned on Final Cut, Logic and Aperture, for example.

    1. We did. Small businesses are the backbone of America. But Apple is pushing all of the small businesses that don’t have large IT budgets away. Apple WAS great for places like us. It just worked. We didn’t need dedicated IT people. Those days are gone. Apple is a lifestyle gadget company now.

      1. True.
        Apple has more than enough resources to build out a quality server product that scales from small shops on up, but they seem more intent on selling trinkets and renting stuff to people. In the long run I posit that will not look like that great an idea.

        One day a disruptive company or product will upend the empire built upon the iPhone. It will happen as history has repeatedly shown. If all they have is n overpriced phone and support services they might well find themselves in a bind.

        The only companies that survive over time are those who adapt and do not become dependent upon one thing- a one trick pony. Look at the dominant companies of a century ago and how many are big and important today? Do not count AT&T as the company doing business as AT&T is the former Baby Bell Southwestern Bell- later SBC Communications. they bought up the carcass of the old AT&T, but the company is a very different one.

    2. Actually, back around 2000-2002 even Oracle was publicly stating (even up on stage at conventions and conferences) that Xserve was THE most cost effective way to run Oracle services. Many organizations bought Xserves and Oracle systems and services based upon that strong support.

      On the high performance computing side Virginia Tech put together the third fastest computer on the planet with a set of Macs ganged together (that were soon replaced with a set of Xserves ganged together). Yes, you read that right, the third fastest on the entire planet even with you take into account all the U.S. DoD and DOE super computers back then.

      The fact that since the demise of Xserve and Xsan the server version of Mac OS and then macOS has been continuously lobotomized is a disgrace. If you want a true server these days, I suggest you go with a Linux system (NOT Windows).

      The macOS servers add on is going to be useless in the not too distant future for anything other than *simple* device management. That’s my prediction.

      (((Yes, I know, I can turn on certain features within macOS through terminal and manage them through terminal with some work, and I can go to github or other source and selectively get software to create a full fledged server of any kind I need or want. The question is, “Why should I have to do so?” I would have to do so because Apple has chosen to follow the highest returns and for no other reason. It’s because the bean counters have decided the return on a true server package does not have as high an ROI as some other products. Therefore it is easier to slowly cut back on development and testing efforts than keep the entire environment intact. It is NOT because Apple can’t break even or make a profit on a Mac Server implementation. They just don’t make *enough* profit to make the bean counters happy.

      People very often talk about how great it is to stay within the Apple environment (aka “the walled garden”) because (for the most part) if you’re 100% Apple, “It just works.” Well, at least with Server (and some other things like Airport) this is becoming less and less true. There just are not the “Apple-like” implementations available anymore forcing us to go outside the garden.

      In five to years will there even be Macs being sold?

  5. Apple server services today are just horrible. But the fact is that they just could not compete (don’t want to compete) with cut-throat priced hardware, and the burgeoning Open Source software solutions. I miss being able to set up a decent Apple server in my small business, but it is what it is.

  6. Mac OSServer, stopped being a server years ago. While I use to have one, and set several up at different businesses, now I won’t eve consider it. Many other, BETTER platforms are available, that do everything needed, and easier, with more cross platform integration. Period. Put a fork in Server… it’s well past done.

  7. macOS (OSX) Server has been in decay since 10.5, as per employees within Apple. (;_;) I gave up on Server at 10.10 Yosemite.


    1) A lot of what Apple provided in Server is now part of regular macOS. You just have to know how to access it.

    2) A lot of what Apple no longer provides in Server is open source and still available by other means. Sadly, it will no longer be integrated into Apple Server GUI system.

    3) Apple does provide alternative sources of most of the services they’re kicking out of Server, so all is not lost.


    4) Apple has never made much profit from either their hardware of software server products. From the point of view of revenue, is it wise for Apple to enable a loss leader for the sake of what’s never been a successful niche for the company?

    I find this all very sad. I find the dominance of Microsoft Windows in Enterprise servers to be irresponsible and dangerous. Equally, I find predictions of the demise of various flavors of BSD UNIX, known to be the safest OSes available, to be frightening. It may well be that macOS remains the only surviving version of BSD UNIX. Wouldn’t that be strange?

    Linux is the server alternative that gets used most often in wiser business environments. But it has its own problems as well.

    Apple macOS Server, in its current state, is still going to continue, but Apple has further lowered its expectations of functionality and success. *sigh*

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