Today the world awakens to a new era, one without Apple servers. Yesterday, April 21, 2022, Apple announced by updating its support page, that macOS Server is now discontinued making today the first day when Apple does not have a formal server product in the space in a long time.
Apple macOS Server Formally Discontinued
Once upon a time, Apple had some of the best-looking servers on the planet. Announced in 2002, the Apple Xserve line was different from Apple’s current products because:
- They were servers
- Xserve RAID (the storage version) was actually priced at a discount to its competitors on a $/GB basis at some point.
- They did not rely on an app ecosystem and subscription revenue
By late 2010, Apple announced that it would discontinue the Xserve line in 2011, but its server line was not completely abandoned. Instead, Apple had a transition plan that those using Xserve could transition to the Intel Nehalem-era Mac Pro with similar performance.
The other option was to transition to the Mac Mini for smaller server environments. Apple even suggested rack-mounted Mac Mini’s for those that did not need a Mac Pro but needed more than one server. This is something we are still doing today.
Alas, the services provided by macOS Server have mostly either been absorbed into the mainline macOS or have transitioned to the cloud.
Apple does have a fun way to track how it has been migrating macOS server services.
Apple macOS Services Alternatives
Here is the fun guide to macOS services that Apple published. We are taking a snapshot in time with the retirement of macOS to help our readers navigate potential services.
|Profile Manager||Available in Server 5.12.2||Learn about choosing an MDM solution|
|Xsan||Removed in Server 5.12||Quantum, command-line tools built into macOS|
|FTP||Removed in Server 5.4||SFTP/SSH|
|Server Docs||Removed in Server 5.4||iCloud Documents, Apache/WebDAV|
|DHCP||UI tools removed in Server 5.7.1||bootpd, built into macOS|
|DNS||Removed in Server 5.7.1||BIND, Unbound, KnotDNS|
|VPN||Removed in Server 5.7.1||OpenVPN, SoftEther VPN, WireGuard|
|Firewall||UI tools removed in Server 5.7.1||pf firewall (built into macOS)|
|Mail Server||Removed in Server 5.7.1||dovecot/Postfix|
|Calendar||Removed in Server 5.7.1||CalendarServer, DavMail, Radicale, Kerio Connect|
|Wiki||Removed in Server 5.7.1||MediaWiki, PmWiki, XWiki, Confluence, WordPress WMX files|
|Websites||UI tools removed in Server 5.7.1||Apache HTTP Server (built into macOS), Nginx, Lighttpd|
|Contacts||Removed in Server 5.7.1||CalendarServer, DavMail, Citadel, Kerio Connect|
|NetBoot/NetInstall||UI tools removed in Server 5.7.1||BOOTP, TFTP, HTTP, NFS (all built into macOS), NetSUS, BSDPy|
|Messages||Removed in Server 5.7.1||ejabberd, Openfire, Prosody|
|Radius||Removed in Server 5.7.1||FreeRadius|
|AirPort Management||Removed in Server 5.7.1||AirPort Utility|
Some of the recommendations are fairly solid, like SFTP for FTP and OpenVPN and WireGuard for VPN. Some are a bit surprising. VPN does not have a simple IPsec line. Mail Server does not include Microsoft Exchange even though Apple is no longer in the server space and Office on Apple has been around for many years.
Since this is a slower week on STH due to it being Easter week, we thought it would be fun to memorialize the end of macOS server. Years ago, having Apple servers around had a certain cachet associated with them. Unlike an iPad or MacBook a challenge is that you could not take that great-looking server platform with you, unless you had a Mac Mini server. Apple ending macOS Server support is along the same lines as Microsoft ending Windows Home Server support years ago where services and functionality were migrated.
Perhaps the key takeaway from this is really that Linux dominates the server world.
Fare well, MacOS Server, we hardly knew you!
Wait a minute…! Apple/MAC had an actual server-like OS?!!! (First I’ve heard of it!)
Around 2008-2012 I found myself as IT-by-default in a video production department that operated on an xsan environment with several xserves. As you would expect with apple it was a reasonably capable server environment for someone that knew just enough to be dangerous. The “server os” was pretty much standard OS X, while the server specific stuff was essentially a GUI for your standard BSD underpinnings.
These days I’m no longer in an IT role, but I do have some stuff going on at home, and use Linux like everyone else 🙂
Well – the server app was nothing but a fancy graphical frontend for what was already available in the OS – all you need to know are the commands in the terminal, and you could do the exact same thing. But with new solutions coming out and none of apple’s internal solutions developing, it was just time.
In the end, most companies were using it for the caching server functionality, and that became automated and completely built in, so no need for any of that anymore either.
I had the technical apple certifications for some years but no longer uphold them. The main focus of these partner required certifications were more for enterprise integration and not so much normal macos troubleshooting. But we did have to go through all functionality in the server.app 🙂