Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Cannot monitor servers running Mac OS X Server 10.3

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 5th, 2008 • 3:06 pm

I have just received a reply from Apple regarding a bug report that I submitted a few weeks ago. This bug report dealt with the fact that I was unable to use the Server Admin utility to connect remotely to my Xserve running Mac OS X Server 10.3.9.

Here’s what the reply from Apple says:

Leopard Server Admin is designed to administer back to Tiger. This behaves correctly. If you are using 10.4.x admin tools, you should be running those on Tiger, and should be able to administer Panther.

I guess that is that. In other words, “pay up and smile.”

The irony is that, after some more testing, I ended up being able to run Server Admin 10.4.7 in Leopard after all. It involved some weird voodoo, i.e. installing the Server Admin Tools 10.4.11 package over the Server Admin Tools 10.4.7 package, even though the version number listed for the Server Admin application itself is the same in both (10.4.7).

I was of course unable to actually run the Server Admin Tools installer in Leopard. Instead, I copied the installed software from another volume that I had with Tiger installed.

But obviously, based on Apple’s response, this is not supported and I shouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing stops working in the future.

I cannot help but feel that it’s rather cynical on Apple’s part to expect me to either run Tiger or upgrade my old Xserve to Tiger Server or Leopard Server. I work for an educational institution and they cannot exact throw money out the window just to please Apple’s marketing types. My Xserve is running Mac OS X Server 10.3.9 just fine and the server does what it is supposed to do.

There are no new features in Mac OS X Server 10.4 or 10.5 that make the upgrade compelling for us. Besides, Apple continues to release security updates for Mac OS X Server 10.3.9, so that server OS is still officially supported, isn’t it?

It just don’t see why Apple couldn’t simply provide backward compatibility in Server Admin 10.5.3. We are talking about a system that is 5-6 years old here. It’s old, but it’s not antiquated, and servers are not necessarily upgraded at the same pace as desktop workstations.

2 Responses to “Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): Cannot monitor servers running Mac OS X Server 10.3”

  1. danridley says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time feeling the outrage on this one. My Windows Server 2008 management tools don’t do me much good with a Windows 2000 box either.

    But just like Microsoft’s answer to my complaints would be Remote Desktop, you can solve it the same way with Apple: just use VNC to remote-control the Panther system and administer it from its own console. Panther didn’t have built-in remote control, but OSXVNC will work fine.

    So you were able to make it work with a bit of voodoo, you have a recourse if it stops working (VNC), and you’re interfacing products that are two generations apart from each other.

    I cannot help but feel that it’s rather cynical on Apple’s part to expect me to either run Tiger or upgrade my old Xserve to Tiger Server or Leopard Server.

    You’re an unusual case. I don’t think Apple execs sat in the boardroom, rubbing their gold coins between their hands and cackling in glee, saying “let’s make our users with new Mac Pros and old Panther servers upgrade their server software!” But they have to make a call about when to stop supporting older versions, and one-version-behind is pretty standard. I expect that most locations with a Panther server or two also have a Tiger desktop or two.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    “Outrage” might be too strong a word to describe my own reaction. I am just somewhat pissed that I have to jump through hoops to do what I could do very simply before. And my point is that, as long as Apple continues to support 10.3.9 to some degree (by releasing security updates for it, in particular), it should continue to support it in Server Admin as well. Otherwise, it sends a mixed message: on the one hand, we continue to support your use of this older server OS, but on the other hand you cannot monitor it from the latest client OS. Why should I have to switch to 10.4 client just to be able to monitor my 10.3 server?

    Apple does not even have to include support in the latest version of Server Admin (10.5.3). Just let us install 10.4.11 in Leopard properly (i.e. with the installer) and make sure 10.4.11 continues to work.

    Besides, both Server Monitor and Workgroup Manager (10.5.3) continue to support my 10.3.9 server without any complaints. So it makes the situation with the Server Admin application look even more arbitrary.

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