Apple Is Dumbing Down macOS Server

Apple has published a technical document explaining future changes to macOS Server. In a version to be released in spring 2018, Server will be shedding many of its server features. Apple says that it:

is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.

As such, they’ll be “hiding” services, such as Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, VPN, and others. These hidden, deprecated services will be fully removed in a later version of the software.

This is an interesting change. Gone are the days of the Xserve, Apple’s attempt to gain a foothold in the server market, which is now essentially based on virtualization and cloud servers. There is still a place for small servers – such as the Mac mini server that Apple sold from 2009 to 2014, but I would guess that fewer and fewer users really need these services.

I have been running a standard Mac mini as a server for a few years, and when macOS High Sierra was released, I updated that Mac but didn’t install the Server front-end software, since the services that I use – file sharing and Time Machine – are both available in the standard version of the operating system. It’s one less headache for me – not that Server was hard to manage for my use – to not have a different interface for settings on that Mac.

I find interesting, however, Apple’s description of “management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.” I wonder if this means Server is going to become an MDM (mobile device management) tool. Or if they’ll be finally releasing an iTunes server, or server tools for other media, such as photos (to allow multiple users to more easily share and manage photo libraries).

I look forward to this change.

5 thoughts on “Apple Is Dumbing Down macOS Server

  1. WTF, dropping the Mail Server? What about DHCP, DNS? Are they complete idiots.

    Looks like it :-(

    If (and let’s be honest, it’s a HUGE ‘if’) they introduced an iTunes Server, it might be worth still running a Mac server, but otherwise, looks like I’ll be going back to Linux. At least that is still a robust OS, unlike MacOS has become.

    Apple continue to eliminate the reasons why I should use a Mac.

  2. Unfortunately, the options in the base OS aren’t near as complete as what was in the Server app. I welcome they are built in, but we need options. There are times you can use it just fine, in fact, most of the time you can. But there are times you need to be able to kick off a logged in user. Now you can’t (from gui).
    We also had options when it came to the Time Machine Server. Now you don’t any control. You don’t even have a way of deleting certain backups manually anymore. We all know how well it does automatically – suddenly you have no space. Now you have to reformat or delete the whole thing since it saves them as one big file now.

  3. I depend on VPN, and spent a lot of time getting DNS to work for my multi-computer home network. I host several (non-commercial) websites. I think these changes suck. They’ll drive me to Linux for the home office server, and I’ll be spending the (non-trivial) effort to (re)learn Linux/Unix system administration. My experience with Server dates back to Tiger (when this cost $1k.)

    Does Apple really want to become the computer company for (only) the computer illiterate?

  4. I am sure we all expected this and now it seems the day is coming. I guess I better buy my last working copy now. Such a disappointment in so many ways. They had a shot with the Xserve if they had just waited a little longer (when the “i” Devices started to take off), all they needed to do was make a reasonably competitive product. I am sure the dumped it because they saw Cloud services stomping on future hardware with many companies moving away from owning on premise hardware. In spite of that I think they could have continued to sell a lot of Xserves since there are production houses and businesses that continue to have a primarily MacOS base. So long server!

  5. To say this doesn’t matter is ridiculous. Do you think the only Mac users are teenage girls using Snapchat? What about small to large businesses? Do you think none of these are Mac shops? I am a Mac Tech/VAR. I have quite a few businesses of say 10 to 30 people who are dependent on a server. The Xserve & Mac OS server up to 10.6 were awesome. So now Apple wants me to introduce a Windows server? That’s their solution? So we go all Mac to avoid Windows crappiness, and Apple says go buy the crappiest of Windows a Winblows server? You seriously think the cloud is a choice? Your data is not your own at Google, Apple or any 3rd party service. I can’t tell my customers to go there when it is known that these companies store the encryption keys on their side. What do I tell a customer that finds out his wife has subpoenaed his files in a divorce directly from Apple or Google without his knowledge? He will hold me responsible in his mind for not informing him that he no longer owned his data. No the cloud is absolutely no place for your data. These companies are scanning it, and the risk of even someone else using your computer and making you liable for something they do is now a real threat. We need a solution, and right now it’s to stay in-house.

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