xServe – Apple's second rate citizen

We regretfully purchased a few PPC xServe machines early in the life of Vidoop.  Being extremely impressed with OS X and a longtime user of Apple Desktop machines and administrator of Linux/BSD web servers I was rather excited when we decided to purchase Apple xServe.  At first glance the admin interface seems extremely feature rich.  Out of the box you can check a few boxes and have postfix, jabber, apache, open directory all configured and running.

The problem arises when you try to get the server to actually do something useful.  Apple had the business sense to leverage FOSS to fill the gaps in their service offerings, unfortunately they never update these services.  The still run an outdated version of Apache 1.x, so if you want to run SVN, you better install the developer tools and compilers because you’ll be building Apache 2.x.  The jabber server they use works out of the box, but was extremely dated and lacked a lot of the features we are getting with Openfire.  Open directory worked great, but when we migrated to.  The selection of package managers such as fink and Darwin Ports, although sufficent still leaves something to be desired compared to that of most Linux distributions.  Installing Trac for the first time was grueling compared to what I was used to in Linux.  Unfortunately they have not only lead to a lot of frustration, but quite a few lost development hours.

If your looking for a work group server, a development server, web server, or whatever don’t bother looking into Apple’s offerings.  What they have sure looks nice, but the TCO  of their servers compared to similar purposed Linux or even Windows boxes is unbelievable.