Infoworld published an article today that is a good overview – but – it should be emphasized the article is a start – and just that – seemingly geared towards those with only a beginner’s knowledge of what’s available and possible for managing Mac OS X in a centralized manner. Be it with available directory services (Microsoft’s Active Directory, or Apple’s Open Directory, and others), or where no centralized service(s) are available or an option.
Workgroup Manager is a free download from Apple, and can be used in conjunction with Mac OS X clients bound to Active Directory (beyond the scope of this post) or via dslocal (see links below). For Mac OS X 10.7 you should install the 10.7.2 version of the Server Admin tools and use the version of Workgroup Manager included with it.
For 10.6 clients, see
Note that you should use a version of Server Admin tools (namely, Workgroup Manager) that matches your client OS as closely as possible. For example, see
Some additional key tools you should know about are (one is mentioned in the comments for the Infoworld article):
For managing software installation(s) on Mac clients
– Server: “A Munki server is simply a web server. It is nothing else. You do not need the munki tools installed on the server. It is possible to use a NAS appliance as a Munki server. You are simply setting up a filesystem on a web server for clients to access. Common choices: Mac OS X Server, a Linux Server, in other words a webserver product (i.e. Apache) running on a box with some way to get files on and off it. Good choices for transferring files to and from the munki server include file sharing via AFP, SMB or NFS”
– client: Mac OS X (client) workstation
Reposado – for hosting Apple software updates.
“you may use any existing web server you wish (but) Reposado… currently relies on the command-line “curl” binary to download updates from Apple’s servers. curl is available on OS X, RedHat Linux, and many other OSes, including Win32 and Win64 versions. See http://curl.haxx.se for more information.”
Apple Remote Desktop – for easy adjustment of client settings, client support (screen sharing), pushing out (Apple) package-installer compliant software installs, and more.
dslocal mcx (client-local mcx for “Managed Client for Mac OS X”)
Please contact the Core Solution Group if you would like to begin planning and implementation of one or more of these tools.