Forget Windows: SMBs should try Snow Leopard Server
No beating about the bush; no idly justificatory build-up; straight to the point – the unbelievable mess that is Microsoft’s new licensing and activation management for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.
I’ve never seen so many frustrating hoops to jump through, merely to prove that neither I nor my clients are global copyright thieves. I worry constantly about Jon Honeyball’s blood pressure.
Some of Microsoft’s own documents admit you’ll need dosing with a “good Tuscan red” to fortify you before wading into the new licensing details, but the company is supposed to be in the software, not the wine business.
Some of Microsoft’s own documents admit you’ll need dosing with a good Tuscan red to fortify you before wading into the new licensing details, but the company is supposed to be in the software, not the wine business
Should you now hoard precious vintage Server 2003 licences, or move over to Small Business Server (2003 or 2008 flavours), which means re-jigging all your IP addresses, user profiles, and peripherals? Or look elsewhere?
The market has never offered more small business server platforms for your consideration, even if some of them don’t pass my spontaneous guffaw test. For example, last week I saw a box the size of a couple of stacked flash drives, sitting on a wobbly trestle table at a computer fair – it had a USB connector at one end and an Ethernet socket at the other, and was being promoted as a good way to convert your USB hard disk into a network server.
Sure, some people may find this a viable ultra-low-cost solution – for as long as their bargain-basement drive lasts (which in my durability estimate, in constant use, would be nine months at best). I’m chilled to the bone by the idea that anyone would seriously consider sharing files in this way.
The Apple option
The fence that I’m personally peeking over isn’t the one that overlooks this rickety bargain basement, but rather the one that divides Apple from the rest of the networking community. I’m peeking over it for two very good reasons: the first is that Snow Leopard – Apple’s operating system for laptops, Mac minis and the like – has now been joined by Snow Leopard Server; and the second is that, at the time of writing (one day before the release of Windows 7), Apple has announced a new parts combo in its Mac mini range that makes up a fully bundled server. For £800 retail you can have a pair of mirrored disks, no CD drive but a FireWire 800 port, plus an unlimited-licence copy of Snow Leopard Server.
I already have a copy of Snow Leopard Server here courtesy of Apple – although it isn’t running on Mac mini hardware – so let’s take a PC-user’s inspection tour of the platform to remind ourselves of what we could be doing instead of grubbing around inside Windows Server, fretting about Kerberos and the unbelievably long passwords that it imposes on summer interns with fewer qualifications than a border collie.
The first thing to remember is that, unlike with Windows and Windows Server, this is not a completely separate code platform from the basic Snow Leopard. That explains why once the Snow Leopard Server wizard had finished, the first software update I ran included the latest version of iTunes, which is hardly a core function for a file server. How very different from the vast range of platforms now possible under Windows Server 2008.
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