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Leopard Nonstop Bugfest: Shafting the Admins

If you sell it - then support it. If you don't want to support it anymore - then say so.

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Rumours have been flying for months - if not years - that one of Apple's secret wet dreams is to be able to abandon their OS X Server and concomitant hardware entirely. Certainly the growing amount of evidence of laxity, lack of functionality, and rampant code bugs supports this theory.

Now Philipp Reinheimer of Berlin adds more fuel to the fire.

'We've had problems for months now, big problems with our OS X 10.5x Server in connection with server based user folders', writes Reinheimer, noting Apple have not condescended to help with the matter.

'Complaints are piling up worldwide and the threads are becoming longer and longer. Even the last update 10.5.6 doesn't address the issue.'

And the issue is?

'On our current Xserve systems which are made available over the AFP protocol server-based user folders the AFP service is completely using the CPU', writes Reinheimer. 'On our system with 8 cores the CPU burden is up to 750%.'

'Work by all logged on users is no longer possible because all applications no longer react and the computer hangs up eventually. The only thing left is to restart the server but in most cases this does not help because the problem returns after a new start. The AFP service takes the whole CPU. For a company like ours with over 100 server-based workstations this is inacceptable.'

It should of course be pointed out that 100 server-based workstations is still a network of trivial size.

Poking Through Fog

'Administrators around the world are frustrated and clueless', notes Reinheimer. 'There is no feedback. Help from Apple Enterprise support is like a trying to poke through fog.'

'Many now believe there is such a serious problem with the AFP proctocol that even Apple developers are helpless.'

Reinheimer refers to an Apple discussion thread on the matter. The Apple forum nannies acknowledge that the thread which began 29 August last year has still not been resolved.


'The problem is evidently so bad that companies are experiencing damages from down time.'

Indeed. And several administrators reported losing salary bonuses because they are held responsible for the documented failure of Apple's server systems.

'We administrators no longer know where to turn', laments Reinheimer, noting Apple are categorically not providing any feedback, help, or support.


'Why anyone would rely on AFP for their file services is beyond my understanding', comments network engineer Sean Collins. 'You could have a client experience a full blown lockup if the AFP share went down or had intermittent activity - as opposed to SMB/CIFS connections that would time out and gracefully disconnect the share.'

'So many admins got screwed over when they put out OS X Server 10.5 and everyone's Active Directory got screwed up. Did they ever test it? Apparently not! It took them until the point two update to get their stuff together and send everyone a fix.'

'I know myself - after having a colleague wrestle with trying to keep his server and client deployments on the same release that Apple want to sell everyone a shiny product, take the money, and run.'

'It's almost like they're laughing behind your back when you purchase an Xserve', concludes Collins.

Nonstop Bugfest

Apple certainly have trendy server hardware but their system support has long been called into question. Professional network engineers with any modicum of experience tend to shun AFP like the plague, citing its 'busy' behaviour - overloading the cables with gobs of silly traffic.

Although Apple provide interesting software titles for network maintenance they remain adamant to not entertain the most basic of tools. Such as a halfway decent file manager that can at least address all permissions bits, sticky bits, set ID bits, and system and user file flags. All the engineers get to play with on OS X Server is the incomparable Finder, the sight of which has been known to make the pros laugh and walk away.

It will never be denied Apple have some pretty impressive engineers working on the core technologies they deploy. But who are the engineers working on the code higher up - are they kernel programming rejects?

For one gets an undeniable feeling after grappling with the never ending succession of puzzling predicaments that the so called engineers working on Quartz, the Cocoa FE, and overall testing to name but a few areas are not sufficiently seasoned or trained before being tasked with assignments. Time and again one notices that these 'engineers' often do not fully understand the code they acquire and how it's really supposed to work. One sees further that these 'engineers' are even lacking in 'end user experience' on a sophisticated level for the very platform they're employed to write code for.

Should Apple truly wish to abandon their server and enterprise efforts then there are certainly more decent and honest ways to go about it - which do not include sticking it to their most loyal customers in such a cavalier and reprehensible fashion.

Apple are not today, never have been, and never will be a player of note in the server market. This not only because of the prevalent market attitude towards the corporation but more than equally because of the corporate attitude towards the market.

If you sell it - then support it. If you don't want to support it anymore - then say so. Scandals such as these and the innumerable other embarrassing gaffes Apple have been guilty of over the years since the NeXT 'merger' can't be swept under the rug. Hard core engineers and loyal Apple customers do take notice and they do remember and they do tell their friends and colleagues.

The Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) allows users of multiple computers to share files easily and efficiently over a network.
 - Official Apple AFP documentation
It's harder and harder to be an Apple apologist after the nonstop bugfest that is Leopard. Apple refuse to admit there is a problem and as Leopard goes on the bugs become more numerous.
 - 'foidulus'
You're going to be waiting in vain for a fix from Apple. Your best bet is to switch over to SMB/CIFS which can and does handle those kinds of loads. Apple never test anything that they do on large enterprise deployments because they actively avoid enterprise solutions and their company culture does not put a priority on addressing enterprise needs beyond putting up a nice PR web page about VT when they buy 200+ Xserves for a computing grid.
 - 'SC68Cal'

See Also
Apple: Xserve
Sean Collins: Technically Sound
go2xserve.com: 10.5 Server AFP Issue
Apple: Apple Filing Protocol Programming Guide

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