OS X Server is Gone

“I read the news today, oh boy…”

Trite, but kind of how I feel. I get it’s weird to feel anything for a product that in all honesty had ceased to be much of anything over the last few years, but for those not in the “greybeard” section of macOS née Mac OS X Server née Rhapsody, explaining what that product, which mind you, used to not be free, or even cheap, meant to a lot of people is kind of hard. Especially those of us coming from the “dark ages” of AppleShareIP et al. There’s not a lot these days that creates the kind of community OS X Server did. It was a confluence of a lot of things that I don’t think could exist today.

OSXS as it was more commonly known started the careers of so many people and jumpstarted the careers of many others, like, well, me. It did something that hadn’t happened in the server space in years: it created something new. No one was an expert at it when it came out. So everyone was reset to equal, and that created so many ways for products and people to flourish. It was a boost to the people already familiar with Unix-based server OS’s, who understood a bit of LDAP, (especially after 10.5, when NetInfo was finally put to pasture. Oh my the parties about that.)

It wasn’t magical, right? The product itself was always kind of this afterthought, and you could tell what part of it Apple used to sell Macs to people depending on the year. Netboot was huge for a long, long time, then Open Directory, then other things. For orgs that didn’t want to move to Active Directory from NT Domains, or couldn’t, it was a way to delay that move. And it gave Apple at least the ability, along with the Xserve and the Xserve RAID, to say “We have a place in the server room.” Which in the halcyon days before we handed our entire infrastructure to Amazon and/or Microsoft Azure, was important.

There were a lot of people who learned how to be sysadmins because of that product. Which I think created the biggest thing about OSXS: the community. It was a weird community, but it was definitely there, and at times, it was just the most amazing, warm, welcoming thing. Ten seconds later, you wanted to burn it to the ground, but it was awesome just a little more than it was awful. There’s nothing like that any more. No, the MacAdmins Slack channel ain’t it. Not even close.

I met a lot of people who I’m still close to, or at least in touch with because of that product. I’m glad existed the way it did, and yes, it was time for it to go. But for a while, it was a really cool thing to be a part of, and I guess that’s the best thing you can say about any software. So to Eric, Doug, DaveO, Tom, Richard, all the people who helped create and make OSXS and other folks like Chuck, Bartosh, Schoun, Kevin, Greg, Josh, Nigel, Joel, Andrina, Pam, Sara, Mark, and so many others, I will always feel privileged to have been able to share in such a special, weird, and regularly wonderful community with y’all.