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Do I need Mac OS X Server?


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CYearbook
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Hello everyone,

My name is DJ and I'm from Claremont High School. I am also on their Yearbook Staff, and I have a question for you.

In our yearbook lab, we have many types of Macs. iMacs, eMacs, etc. I am in charge of managing all the computers. Personally I have a much better experience with PCs, and prefer them over Macs. But of course, all the schools have Macs. Anyways, currently we have a very old Mac that acts as our server. It is still running Mac OS 9, etc... although all of our other Macs are running OS X.

Lately the server has been down a LOT. It just keeps going up and down. We've tried adding more memory, rebooting, etc. The server is important to us because it is the location of where all our files are stored. That way we can save to the server and pull files off using any computer. Its a real pain getting "lost connection" messages and sometimes not being able to connect at all.

We have discussed possibly getting a new server, which is what we are going to do most likely. All we want to be able to do is use file sharing (Go->Connect to Server) on the server, and set up printers so all the computers can access the same two printers. We dont need tons of fancy features, but possibly having Web Hosting and Email capabilities would be nice. Can you please give me some solutions that would work for us? We have about 40 computers in the lab.

I've look at Mac Servers, and they start at $2999 (I think), which is a little expensive for us. I understand Mac OS X Server offers hosting, mail, etc. Would I be able to buy a G5 and install Mac OS X Server on it? Do I even need Mac OS X Server, or can I just use Max OS X and set it up for file sharing? Please help me out, give me a list of options and price ranges. Again, web hosting / email would be nice with a Mac Server, but it gets pricy. So give me a few options to choose from.

Thanks so much! I am pretty new to dealing with Macs. If it were PCs I would know what to get.

DJ Tarazona -- Claremont High School Yearbook Staff
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technologist

 
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OS X Server's biggest advantage for file sharing is the ability to manage access for users and groups. You can share files and printers from any version of OS X, but keeping track of permissions for a half-dozen people is a pain.

You shouldn't need an XServe for just your yearbook staff, though. (Maybe for your whole school...) You can install OS X Server on any reasonably powerful Mac. You could use a G5, a Mac mini or an old G4, whatever you can get your hands on, so long as it has enough memory. (512MB at a minimum, I'd say.)

As a K-12 school, you should be able to get educational pricing on Apple's software. OS X Server is $249 for the 10-client and $499 for the Unlimited version on the Educational store (http://www.apple.com/education/store and follow the K-12 links)
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Murlyn

 
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No you do not need an xserve.. for one you would need rackspace, which I doubt you have, so don't even consider it

You can pretty much purchase any Mac and you'll be good to go, although I would recommend either an iMac or PowerMac with a huge hard drive, and possibly an external drive to go along with it if you get the iMac or if you get the PowerMac get a couple nice internal drives. OS X comes with built in server, hosting capabilities so you do not need OS X Server, regular OS X will work just fine for you.

As for prices.. just take a look at the apple store with what I mentioned above and you should be good to go
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rman

 
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A few questions come to mind.

What is your budget?
What your requirements for a server?
How many clients are you using?

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain!
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CYearbook
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We can spend no more than $3000, but around $1800 - $2200 would be ideal for us.

Our requirements for the server would be to simply be able to store all of our yearbook files. Each staff member will have a username and password that s/he will use to connect to the server. From there, they can save their files directly to their own personal folder. The server would need to be stable, and pretty fast. We cant have it crashing a lot. As for clients, do you mean how many people will be connecting to it via their own usernames and passwords? If so, probably about 20 - 30 a time, with a total of about 70 accounts (because our school newspaper also uses the same server).

If possible we would like to put restrictions on each user to what folders they can access. Webhosting and a mail system would be nice if we could set that up, as we have our own domain and hosting remotely right now, but we could switch over.

I think thats about it.

---------------

EDIT: Theres more.

Our school newspaper advisor (who uses the same computers as us yearbook staff), says that its not a server issue. Personally I think it is, as recently our login problems and the server going up and down is affecting all of the computers. It seems to be affecting the computers with Mac OX 10.3.9 the most tho. We have started to upgrade to 10.3.9 (most of the computers have 10.2.8 on them), and with 10.3.9, sometimes the Mac doesnt even find the server, when other computers with 10.2.8 can. If this a server issue again? Maybe compatibility issue because the server is running Mac OS 9? What could be causing the 10.3.9 computers to be having even more problems with the server? If we did get a new server, would these problems most likely go away?

Let me know, thanks for all your help!
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fearlessfreap24

 
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IMO it sounds to me like you need OS X Server. I would get an iMac G5 at least. you could also look into their refurbished computers and find a decent deal.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Reply to edit.

it sounds like it might be a server problem to me. getting a new server is not a bad thing though. i would push for a new server or at least OS X Server to run on a different computer.

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