Various tidbids from Summer 2012

This post, being written on the last day of August 2012, qualifies for the end-of-summer entry for this blog. So I decided to collect some thoughts and issues I faced during summer and post them here.

First of all, a Fujifilm X-100 issue, that I was aware of, but never remembered. Don’t try to use the build-in flash of the camera, with the lens hood attached. It’s a known issue, but since I store and always carry my camera with the lens hood attached, I didn’t remember to remove it, when I shot some pictures with the flash activated. Results? Bottom left corner of the pictures is significantly darker than the rest. Just remember: flash and hood do not go together on this camera.

Second, Apple Mountain Lion server has significant issues. I am now officially back to Lion server, since the new version has so many issues that I do not want to upgrade. I have spend several summer days trying to fix the issues with the Mountain Lion server, unsuccessfully, so I decided that it was about time to go back to the previous, stable, Lion server and call it a day. Thanks Apple, as if I had nothing better to do with my summer days.

Third, spending almost a whole summer month with a broken foot, is not fun. I broke a bone in my foot, as I was climbing down from a chair I was on, doing some rearrangements of my network equipment. As I was coming off the chair, my right foot stepped on my shoe and the ankle turned. I heard a “crack” and felt an acute pain at the right side of my foot. A visit to the hospital (after two days) showed a broken bone. A cast was applied for almost 20 days, which severely reduced my mobility. Not fun.

The weird thing is that at least eight other persons I know had foot issues this summer. Isn’t that strange?!?!

Fourth, vacations. We spent our vacations in the island of Crete, in the apartments of a friend, but more about that you will read in another, dedicated post, with pictures and everything. Needless to say we appreciate Spyros hospitality.

Apple Mountain Lion Server

After living with Mountain Lion for some days now, I have some comments I would like to share with you.

First of all, the upgrade from Lion to Mountain Lion, went just fine on my iMac. I wish I could say the same for the Mac Mini Server. The upgrade of the server was a frustrating experience. In my server, the user directories are located on an external disk drive. The Server upgrade had a hard time understanding this, so I spent several days trying to fix things up, with the help of Apple Support engineers. a huge CPU consumption issue (and hence high temperature issue) didn’t help either. Eventually, the problems were solved and the server is working OK now, but the upgrade was not a swift experience.

Coming to the things I noticed after the upgrades:

  1. Unfortunately, Mountain Lion Server (or more correctly OS-X Server, as it is now named), is lacking several useful features from the previous versions. Apple has decided that a firewall is not necessary for its new OS, so they did away with it. There is no longer a Firewall management page, where you could define your firewall rules. Instead, they suggest that you use the CLI (Command Line Interface) and enter your new rules manually. IPFW (the Lion firewall) still works, but is deprecated, which means that it will stop working in a future OS version. I wish someone could make a Mac OS port of iptables!! Apple’s rudimentary firewall setup is too simple and too cumbersome to be trusted for protecting your server.
  2. The log displaying facility is also seriously reduced in the new Server app. Several logs that could be seen in Lion’s equivalent app, are not shown now. For a sysadmin that’s a serious problem.

In general, the server side of Mountain Lion seems to be very administrator unfriendly. This reduction in capabilities didn’t happen for the first time, it occured when we moved from Leopard to Snow Leopard and then to Lion and now it occurs again. It seems as if Apple doesn’t want SysAdmins to set up the machines in they way they want, but in the way Apple wants them. Strange!