Apple has been adding a potpourri of tools for its OS X operating system.
Rendezvous, LDAP Directory, Workgroup Manager, and Apple Remote Desktop are
some of the most notable for network management, although several others
are significant, too.
Rendezvous, an IP-based browser/chooser/finder, LDAP Directory; and
Workgroup Manager, an LDAP-based replacement for Macintosh Manager, will
all make their debuts in the upcoming Jaguar (MacOS 10.2), slated to ship
on August 24.
Also new in Jaguar are multi platform file and print sharing through Samba,
and NetBoot and Network Install, for implementing standard OS
configurations across multiple Macs.
Apple Remote Desktop, on the other hand, is a standalone application for
software distribution and remote management and tech support, meant to
replace Apple Network Assistant.
Jaguar’s Rendezvous is designed to let end users’ machines discover and
connect to available resources on local networks, such as files and
printers. Intended to overcome “local area chaos,” the new IP-based technology is
conceptually based on the old AppleTalk “chooser,” said Thomas Weyer,
Apple’s Senior Consulting Engineer focusing on X Server, Mac OS X, and Networking; during MacWorld Expo in New
Weyer pointed out that, at one time, Mac machines supported a list of
communications protocols that included serial ports, parallel ports, SCSI,
“Fortunately Apple did away with these, and replaced them with another set
of incompatible protocols,” he quipped.
The IP-based Rendezvous is supposed to work over any IP-capable protocol, including Ethernet, USB, Firewire, Bluetooth, IrDA, and AirPort 802.11.
To find out which resources are available, Rendezvous “will listen for
Multicast DNS packets,” according to Weyer. Through the use of “aggressive
caching,” Rendezvous will suppress duplication of already known devices.
Rendezvous users will be able to give whatever names they wish to computers
and peripherals they’re willing to share, not necessarily the numerical IP
address. By typing a query for “printers” into the browser, for example,
the user will be able to view a list of all available Rendezvous-enable
printers on the local network. The user can then connect to any of the
available printers, without configuration, according to Weyer.
“Microsoft has been looking at Rendezvous, too, as a possible Windows XP
update,” he maintained.
Unlike previous industry attempts such as Jini and UPNP, Rendezvous will
actually “solve the browser problem over IP,” he predicted.
“Why did (these other efforts) fail? Because they were created by
engineers, who couldn’t resist adding too many features,” according to
If software gets “too thick, no device will support it,” he added. “You
could browse for hours, and find absolutely no devices – which means it’s
Printer makers Hewlett-Packard, Epson, and Lexmark, on the other hand, have
already agreed to build Rendezvous into future printers.
Meanwhile, Apple is now focusing most of its efforts on Rendezvous and
TCP/IP, instead of adding to AppleTalk or SLP, according to Weyer.
“Hey GrandDad – It’s time to retire. AppleTalk, we love you – but goodbye,”
noted Schoun P. Regan, CEO of The Mac Trainers.
The future also looks a bit bleak for NetInfo, Apple’s existing directory.
In Jaguar, Apple will include an LDAP directory, along with Workgroup
Manager, for LDAP-enabled management of users, groups, and computers.
Jaguar administrators will be able to use either LDAP or NetInfo for
managing directory services. NetInfo, though, looks likely to be
discontinued. “Will NetInfo be updated? Probably not,” Regan said.
Apple initially introduced LDAP support in MacOS 10.1, a release that
shipped last fall. Version 10.1 provided support for LDAP 2.0 in its
address book and mail server.
Jaguar, though, will be the first release of OS X to integrate an LDAP
Directory. The LDAP 3.0-compliant directory will interoperate straight out of
-the-box with directories from Novell and iPlanet, but not with
Microsoft’s Active Directory, said Tom Goguen, director, server software,
in Apple’s Worldwide Product Marketing.
Apple Remote Desktop, the new standalone app, will run on a choice of
Jaguar or MacOS 10.1, supporting Mac OS X, OS 9, and OS 8 clients.
Beyond the capabilities of the now defunct Apple Network Assistant, the new
software distribution and remote management tool adds a new black-and-white
screen display, for easier observation of remote computers over slow
When you install Apple Remote Desktop, though, existing Apple Network
Assistant client software is automatically deactivated.
Apple Remote Desktop is targeted at both business and school use. Network
managers should be careful, though, not to use it to monitor the activities
of business higher-ups unless they have explicit permission from their
companies, warned John C. Welch, IT manager for the MIT Police Department.
“Potentially, the VP of finance (might be visiting) porn sites on the
side,” joked Welch.
Marc LaFountain, head of Macintosh Technical Services for Capital One, said
his company uses third-party Timbuktu tools from Netopia for tech support, instead.
As LaFountain sees it, the Timbuktu tools have traditionally taken a “more
collaborative, peer-to-peer approach.”
Editor’s Note: This article previously identified Mr. Thomas Weyer as “Apple’s network and communications manager,” which is incorrect. Mr. Weyer is Apple’s Senior Consulting Engineer focusing on X Server, Mac OS X, and Networking. We regret any confusion. -ed.