TweetFollow Us on Twitter

5 Leopard Features To Make Your Sys Admin Happier

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Systems administration

5 Leopard Features To Make Your Sys Admin Happier

Here are a few features that will make your life as a systems administrator easier

by Ben Greisler

Life as a Sys Admin

Being a systems administrator is hectic and stressful. Lucky for us sometimes we get a bit of help to make life a tad easier. With the introduction of Leopard, we have been given some tools that will help out just the little bit that makes a difference to our daily work.

Here are 5 features that are included in Leopard that while aren't earth shaking, will just help out. Some of these features have been available using third party software or simply by some home brew scripting, but they are now built-in and this means Apple has been listening.

Terminal 2

The two new features in Terminal 2 that I see as the most useful are tabs and window groups. Tabs fall into the "It's about time" category. As handy as tabs are in a browser, they are just as handy in Terminal.

After spending time setting up terminal windows just exactly the way that we want, it is now nice to be able to save all that work in multiple windows as window groups. A simple click brings those windows back to us.

Check out Ed Marczak's "Mac In The Shell" column this month on Terminal 2 in this issue for more information.

Screen Sharing

Sure you say, "I already have ARD. Why do I need Leopard's screen sharing?" The way that I see it, you are wandering around the office floor working with users and you need to check something else on another machine. Bingo! You just fire off screen sharing and off you go. It is as simple as clicking on the Share Screen button in a Finder window. This is a convenience feature that I am sure sys admin's will find great use for as time goes on. Screen sharing is based on VNC so plan accordingly.


Fig. 1. Screen sharing is now a standard OSX feature

Instruments

Instruments is billed as a code-debugging tool with the power of Dtrace, but I see it as much more. Designed to allow a developer to view various aspects of the system while an application is running, this is just what a sys admin needs when troubleshooting issues.

Instruments is part of the Developer Tools package and lives in the Applications folder within Developer folder. It has an interface that will be familiar to any Mac user and visualizes what happens when during the use of an application.

Please see Greg Miller's DTrace article and Dave Dribin's "Road to Code" column in this issue for more information.


Fig. 2. Instruments allows powerful inspection of applications while they run

Spaces

Another member of "It's about time" features is Spaces. A window manager similar to those available on any standard Linux install, you get to associate applications with virtual desktops. I don't know about you, but I never thought that Expose was a real answer to screen real estate issues, so I am happy to have Spaces as a standard part of the OS.

Life becomes more organized when you can dedicate a screen to a specific purpose. Combine Spaces with a tabbed terminal and you get a very manageable work environment. Combine that with a pair of 30 inch Cinema displays and you have quite the effective administration system.


Fig. 3. Configuring Spaces to give each app its own place to live

Server Admin Notifications

While we don't have as comprehensive notifications as I would like, the one simple notification for disk space is a great boon to those situation where wider ranging monitoring isn't in place. Sys admins/school librarians who are in charge of OSX servers will love this simple feature that will avoid filled drives that are all too common.

This feature is part of Server Admin in the Notifications tab within Settings. It is limited to sending an email when the free space falls under a defined amount and at this point it doesn't allow you to specify which drives to monitor, but it is a step in the right direction. The File Sharing pane in Server Admin makes a quick job of scanning disk space with the bar graphs and I hope they allow finer grained monitoring in the future. There is also a Server Admin widget for those who find Widgets useful.


Fig. 4. Enabling notifications for disk usage in Server Admin


Fig. 5. Monitoring disk space with Widgets

Conclusion

The release of Leopard shows us that Apple has been listening and is trying to give us tools that make managing OSX and OSX Server easier. Leopard is new and I am sure we will discover new features as Apple releases them. This is just a short list of items for the system administrator, but there is much more goodness in Leopard that isn't specific to the sys admin.

Items like external home directories can change the way we handle user data along with Time Machine. New versions of directory services, changes to launchd, collaboration software, clustering for VPN services, wide are Bonjour and improved Spotlight are all things that will positively impact our work and the user experience.

As I wrote this article I found more and more little items that I can see as being helpful down the road. It will take some time to find them all and see just how useful they will be, but I am liking what I see. The jury is still out on the simple setup feature of OSX Server, but I don't think too many sys admin's will be using it.


Ben has been everything from a Mac user to CTO of one of the leading Macintosh professional services firms. Besides writing an occasional article for MacTech, you can find him presenting at Macworld (including a session called "DNS: Demystified, co-presented with Doug Hanley) or consulting with clients around the world. You can reach him at ben@greisler.org.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

EtreCheck 3.1.4 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
Postbox 5.0.9 - Powerful and flexible em...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.5.16 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more
TrailRunner 3.8.827 - Route planning for...
TrailRunner is the perfect companion for runners, bikers, hikers, and all people wandering under the sky. Plan routes on a geographical map. Import GPS or workout recordings and journalize your... Read more
VueScan 9.5.61 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Postbox 5.0.9 - Powerful and flexible em...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
VueScan 9.5.61 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.5.16 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more
TrailRunner 3.8.827 - Route planning for...
TrailRunner is the perfect companion for runners, bikers, hikers, and all people wandering under the sky. Plan routes on a geographical map. Import GPS or workout recordings and journalize your... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.1 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Become the worl...
It's time to wield your trusty pizza cutter again, as Amateur Surgeon has returned with a whole fresh set of challenges (and some old, familiar ones, too). Starting anew isn't easy, especially when all you have at your disposal is a lighter, the... | Read more »
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire (Ga...
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »
The best board games on mobile
Sometimes you need to ditch all of the high speed, high action games in favor of something a little more traditional. If you don't feel like parting ways from your mobile device, though, there are still plenty of ways to get that old-school fix.... | Read more »
The best Facebook Messenger Instant Game...
Facebook's new Instant Games is now here, meaning you can play games with your friends directly via Facebook. It's a fun new way to connect with friends, of course, but it's also proving to be a solid gaming experience in its own right, with a... | Read more »
You can now play game's on Facebook...
Facebook launched its new Instant Games platform in an exciting new attempt to engage its user base. As a result, you can now play a number of different games directly through Facebook Messenger. All of these games run with HTML5, meaning you play... | Read more »
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney (Games)
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: Court Is Back In Session Star as rookie defense attorney, Apollo Justice, as he visits crime scenes,... | Read more »
KORG iWAVESTATION (Music)
KORG iWAVESTATION 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $19.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A revolutionary new world of sound.The Wave Sequence Synthesizer for iPad - KORG iWAVESTATION | Read more »
Don't Grind Guide: Tips for becomin...
Don’t Grind is a surprising, derpy little one touch game with fun hand-drawn graphics. The goal is simple -- get the high score without being chopped to bits. That can be tough when you’re not used to the game, and that’s compounded by the fact... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Monday roundup of Holiday Mac sales: Up to $3...
Take up to $300 off MSRP on the price of a new Apple Mac at B&H Photo today as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Touch Bar MacBook Pros are in... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up to $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP... Read more
9-inch Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 256GB WiFi iPad Pro: $779.95 $20 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple MacBook Airs available fo...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $899 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/... Read more
13-inch Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro in stock...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLVP2LL/A) in stock today and on sale for $1749 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price... Read more
Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac Offers 25 Singl...
Parallels has launched Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac, an upgrade that adds five new utilities to the stand-alone application which was released in August and is available exclusively online at http... Read more
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini Ultra-Portabl...
OWC has introduced the new OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini, a powerful yet ultra-portable dual-drive RAID solution. The new Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini packs phenomenal performance into a small... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros available for up to $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Roundup of 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sa...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
New 13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro in...
Adorama has the new 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar, MLL42LL/A) in stock for $1499 including a free 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Kansas...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with responsibilities for Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV Frameworks - Apple I...
The Apple TV team is looking for a software...create features that reflect the look and feel of Apple TV. Description: Were looking for someone who is Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Greenwi...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.