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Old 2008-04-18, 18:11   Link #1
Gregory House
*IT Support
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Age: 29
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Mac OS X - Setting up a network

Gee, I seem to get a lot of these networking odd jobs lately, don't I?

This is probably a question for Ledgem. An acquaintance has asked me about setting up a network at her workplace (a design company) between six Macs, using a main one as a server and the rest as simple clients. She didn't give me too many details, except that they were like 25 meters apart from each other (something which made me go , but I'd have to see them personally to assess that--I think she must have given me the wrong number).

My main question comes from this last bit of data she gave me. Do most Macs nowadays come with a wireless NIC? (Or, at least, since which model do they come with one) I asked her about this but she didn't know (she's not very computer literate). Other than that, I'd need some tips on how does OS X handle connectivity. I know it's UNIX at the core, so I should have a similar possible approach as in Linux, but I'd like to know about the GUI tools available and what's their overall quality. Oh, and about the general performance of OS X as a server.

Place them in a box until a quieter time | Lights down, you up and die.
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Old 2008-04-18, 18:32   Link #2
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New Jersey
Age: 34
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The Mac Pro is the only one that doesn't come with 802.11 standard. Its an option when you purchase it. I think you can buy the airport extreme module from Apple if you need wireless but I'm not certain (no need for wireless on my Mac Pro).

The network configuration is pretty simple. Go to System Configuration from the Apple menu and theres a network icon there. When you open that you'll see something like this:

With a Wireless connection you'll see a button there for Airport configuration (IIRC). From there you can select a wireless network. You can also select a wireless network from the wireless icon on the menu bar.

With only 6 machines its probably not worth it to buy the server version of OS X. I'd use AFP as the file sharing protocol (nfs and smb/cifs are options but not fun). Its Mac native and pain free to configure. The Macs should all "see" each other in the Finder automatically.

By default, AFP shares users home directories and each hard drive connected to a machine (if you authenticate as an admin). You'll probably need to either create users for everyone on the server or relax permissions so anonymous users can write to the share.

To get the share automounting at login, once the share has been mounted manually the first time, open system preferences, click on accounts. Click on login items. Drag the network share icon on the desktop to the login items screen.
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Old 2008-04-18, 18:55   Link #3
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northeast USA
Age: 32
(Epyon beat me to it, but I'll post anyway)

It should be pretty easy to do, but the specifics will depend on the Mac models that they have. Unfortunately we can't assume whether wireless or multiple NICs are available. If they ordered all of their systems in one big batch we can safely assume that they're all identical, though.

At this point I could write a huge post about potential set-ups and provide screenshots as well, but it'd be a lot of fluff. I'll just say that OSX is rather stable and I've been using it as a web proxy server, a file server, and as a grid controller and haven't had any issues (the grid controller is a bit flakey but that's due to the software rather than OS X). The connectivity is extremely easy, but I can't give you a precise steps without knowing whether they're using OS X 10.4 or 10.5 (the reason being that they moved some things around in the system settings, but they're all easy enough to find).

What do they want to use the server for? If it's just a web sharing system, easy enough - enable internet sharing. An input needs to be specified (which NIC holds the connection to share from) and then multiple outputs can be selected. If they share over wireless then the sharing system will appear to be a base station, and the others can connect to it as if it were a regular router. If they're working with a system that doesn't like internet sharing (like me), I've found that Squid Proxy lets me get around what ever detection scheme the system was using.

If they want a file sharing system, I'd recommend against using a wireless network unless the files are small. Again, it's a simple matter of going into the preferences and turning on file sharing (there is a separate option for sharing with Windows systems). OSX 10.5 allows you to specify folders and permissions, but OSX 10.4 shares the home directory by default if I remember right (or that may have just been a limitation with the Windows sharing - either way you can get around this by using a free program called Sharepoints).

But, we'll start at the beginning. We want to simply connect the systems for now. Here are some easy instructions to see what's there. Click the Apple logo (upper left hand corner), and then click on "System Preferences." Click on Network. There should be at least one "Built-in Ethernet" - if there are two, the system has two NICs. If it says "Airport" anywhere on there, then the system has a wireless card as well (but may need an antenna for decent performance).
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Old 2008-04-18, 19:46   Link #4
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New Jersey
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If you are still on 10.4 you can use this to configure specific shares:
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