More Business-Friendly Features for Mac OS X 'Leopard'

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2006-07-06 Print this article Print

Opinion: Readers offer several ideas for Mac OS X 10.5, called "Leopard." One expands on network computing capabilities now in OS X Server, and another brings back an old idea from the past: a shared Windows/Mac code base.

The feature list of Apple Computer's forthcoming Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, may be considered a state secret down at the company's Infinite Loop headquarters. At the same time, eWEEK readers have a strong sense of what Apple could do in its next OS upgrade to help the small and midsize business customer.

In a recent column, I offered a range of new features and targets for strengthening the OS, including better support for Microsoft Exchange, improved virtualization for Windows (beyond Boot Camp), refinement of the Spotlight desktop search engine introduced in the current Tiger version of the OS, easier scripting with the Automator environment, and a host of fixes to the Finder and the networking stack.

Here are a few ideas from the Mac community brain trust:

Joel Ingulsrud, a senior product manager at Adobe Systems, pointed to current shortcomings in Portable Home Directories, a feature of the OS X Tiger Server. He said the tool should be made more robust and easier to set up in Leopard.

"Portable Home Directories is a very attractive feature: Log in from any machine to get your complete configuration of mail, files, apps and prefs (a conventional network home directory feature). But for mobile machines you also get an automatically synced local copy, so you can take it all with you. Any changes you make when away from the network get synced to the server when you return," he wrote.

"Lose your laptop? Hard disk crashed, or want to upgrade to a higher capacity 2.5-inch drive without the need for an external swap case? Just log in from somebody else's machine and keep working. When your replacement machine/HD arrives, just plug it in to the network and get working right away while the server builds the local home directory in the background.

"PHD makes it so easy to have multiple machines or replace old ones I don't understand why Apple doesn't make a personal server just to drive client machine sales, since the hassle factor of migrating to a new machine becomes negligible. Not to mention the customer support advantages for those with a spare Mac or two being free to send in a defective unit without missing a beat no matter how long it takes to repair, etc.

"I just experienced the benefits of network home directories first hand while dealing with a series of repairs on a lemon of an iMac G5.

"We never had to back up or scrub the drive before sending it in, all of the users on the machine had access to their 'system' while it was in the shop, and when we finally got a replacement it only took a few minutes tweaking the network directory services utility to be back up and running.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: More Business-Friendly Features for Mac OS X 'Leopard'

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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