More Flexibility and Ease of Use for External Directory Users in iCal Server
iCal server is a neat product, but if you have users hosted with other directory services, such as Active Directory, or eDirectory, there’s some silly pain there. For example, you have Kerberos v5 to authenticate for external directory users, but that’s not all that clear. When setting up access, even in iCal for external directory users, even though the standard default port for iCal server is 8008, if you don’t manually put that in the URL string, you can’t connect, and the error message looks more like a Kerberos message than a wrong port message. Oh, and if there’s a way to get delegation to work in iCal between Open Directory and Augment users, I’ve yet to figure it out.
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An OWA Layer for Groupware Services
Yes, I know, Apple isn’t here to push Windows software. Except for Safari … or iTunes. But honestly, the state of CalDAV clients on Windows sucks. Point blank. There are some plugins for Outlook in work, but that’s an annoying solution to manage and support if you have a lot of Windows boxes. A better idea that would make using Mac OS X 10.5 Server easier in heterogeneous shops would be an Outlook Web Access, or OWA layer for Mac OS X 10.5 Server’s groupware. That way, you would just point Outlook 2003 or later, or Entourage at a single URL, and as far as their concerned, it’s just an odd version of Exchange. No software to install or manage, no plugin interactions to support. It’s a “Win” for everyone (pun fully intended).
Still Too Hard to Visualize and Create Open Directory Structures
One of the biggest complaints with Apple’s tools is that actual directory management with them is really tedious compared to other directory services. For example, with Active Directory, I can easily view all my containers (CNs), and organizational units (OUs), as a single tree. If I want to create a container or OU, it’s a single right click operation. If I want to move users in and out of structures, dead simple. With Apple’s tools, you can’t really view your overall directory structure at all. Creating OUs is especially tedious, but even creating CNs isn’t as easy as it should be. Moving items around the directory is counterintuitive for the native structures Apple users, and for custom OUs or CNs, it’s even worse. This is a serious problem for Open Directory, especially in situations where it has to go up against better implementations like Active Directory and eDirectory.
Overall, Mac OS X 10.5 Server is a big improvement, but it’s not completely done yet.
John C. Welch is a Unix/Open Systems Administrator for Kansas City Life Insurance, and a regular speaker at Macworld Expo on IT issues.
This article was originally published on Datamation.