Mac OS X Server migration to a HELIOS server – White Paper  

1 Mac OS X Server migration to a HELIOS server

1.1 Introduction

The Apple Xserve product line was discontinued by Apple as of January 31, 2011. Current and prospective users are now considering future alternatives.

How can they continue to get the benefits of the Xserve, while gaining additional power, efficiency, and features?

Xserve servers offered a convenient 1U server hardware system, running the Mac OS X Server operating system. In this document, we show how to migrate and replicate the server services offered by Mac OS X, to a HELIOS server. Because HELIOS server solutions run on a broad range of server platforms, there is an excellent choice of hardware and OS options to replace the Xserve.

Mac OS X is a UNIX-based operating system. So for compatibility and ease of migration, when switching from a Mac OS X server, it makes sense to switch to another UNIX-based OS such as Solaris, AIX, or Linux, rather than a Windows server. UNIX has been around much longer as a server OS, and the competition between vendors gives rise to a good selection of offerings. Combine that with the multitude of UNIX server hardware options, and there should be good choices for every Xserve migration.

HELIOS Software first developed EtherShare, its Apple compatible file and print server, 20 years ago. Since then, it has been in continuous development and improvement. HELIOS EtherShare sets the standard for Mac client support on UNIX servers in mission-critical environments. EtherShare includes a range of server services that replicate and are fully compatible with Apple technologies, such as AFP, Spotlight indexing and searches, Time Machine backup server, Bonjour server, etc. Furthermore, HELIOS server solutions bring additional advanced capabilities such as superior cross-platform client support (Mac/​Windows/​Web), server fail safety, and the HELIOS advanced printing system. All of this is easy to manage via the HELIOS Admin application (see 1.2.13 “Remote management”).

HELIOS servers on UNIX offer the most complete, reliable, and easy to administer Xserve replacements, with the easiest transition for administrators, and a transparent change-over for end-users. This guide should help in the replacement selection and migration processes.

1.2 Services to migrate

Below is a list of all “Services” which are available in the Mac OS X Server “Server-Admin” tool, with their counterparts on a HELIOS server. Also listed are the OS services which are simply “switched on” via the Mac OS X Server “Server-Admin”. We provide a migration description for these services, too.

1.2.1 AFP server

Provided by HELIOS EtherShare

Migration to HELIOS EtherShare is the solution. EtherShare includes an AFP 3.2+ server which is very compatible with the Apple AFP service. The following need to be considered:

1.2.2 Backup support

Provided by HELIOS EtherShare

HELIOS EtherShare includes Mac OS X Time Machine support. It also adds additional backup image tools (see Fig. 1.1) and Time Machine backups observation.


Fig. 1.1: HELIOS TM Browser

1.2.3 Bonjour server

Provided by HELIOS Base

HELIOS Base is included with every HELIOS product, it includes an advanced Bonjour (mDNS) server as well as a Bonjour proxy server. It enables automatic discovery of servers, printers and other devices and services on networks. More details are available in the HELIOS Base manual.

1.2.4 DHCP server

Provided by HELIOS Base

HELIOS Base is included with every HELIOS product, it adds an advanced DHCP server which provides TCP/​IP configurations to Windows, Mac, and other network devices. The secondary DHCP server support allows a second HELIOS server to take over the DHCP service and configuration in case the main DHCP server fails. Find more details in the HELIOS Base manual.

1.2.5 DNS server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

A DNS server is included within UNIX. The “named” is the standard DNS server used by most UNIX servers. The configuration must be done manually via its zones files. Please refer to the “named” configuration documentation for details. Additional DNS servers and configuration solutions are available from third parties.

1.2.6 File server data migration

This section describes several options to successfully migrate the OS X file server data to the new HELIOS server. A simple UNIX copy will not work because permissions, resource information, creation date and Finder info, such as color labels and Finder view, may get lost.


None of the backup methods mentioned above will backup/​restore ACL permissions.

Composite Unicode UTF-8 encoding is used for file names on HELIOS volumes. Additional Finder info and resource information for each file is stored in a subdirectory “.rsrc/<filename>”. Windows file streams are stored in “.rsrc/filename:streamname”. Documentation on the HELIOS “Resource/Data File Spec” is available here.

Once the data is migrated to a HELIOS volume, the HELIOS “dt” utilities offer UNIX compatible file management, e.g. “dt cp”, “dt mv”, “dt rm”. This preserves metadata and file streams, and updates the Desktop database when doing command line based file management. Details on the “dt” utilities are described in the HELIOS Base manual.

1.2.7 Firewall

Provided by HELIOS & UNIX built-in services

All UNIX-based systems offer a software firewall. Please read the OS documentation.

OS Command
AIX genfilt
Solaris 10 ipf
Linux iptables

HELIOS also includes a TCP port firewall on a per-service basis. These security settings can be specified in TCP/​IP access lists via HELIOS Admin.

1.2.8 FTP server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

All UNIX-based platforms include an FTP server by default. More powerful remote file transfer and presentation of data for customers is offered by HELIOS WebShare. For security and ease of use reasons HELIOS recommends to use WebShare instead of FTP.

1.2.9 NetBoot

Provided by HELIOS – details will follow

The “Server Admin Tools” are available from Apple. They contain the “System Image Utility” which is needed to create the NetBoot disk image from the Mac OS X installation DVD. After the installation of the “Server Admin Tools” they are located in “/​Applications/​Server/​”. An updated migration help document will contain information on how to use NetBoot with a HELIOS server. We are working on a detailed description which will follow.

1.2.10 Open Directory

Provided by HELIOS Base

The HELIOS services can use local users as well as network users via NIS, AD/​PDC, LDAP, and Open Directory (see HELIOS Authentication Server LDAP for details about LDAP and Open Directory usage). It offers no server for these services but allows using them from the HELIOS server.

1.2.11 Print server

Provided by HELIOS EtherShare

HELIOS Base includes a very sophisticated print server which is easy to use and administer via HELIOS Admin (see Fig. 1.2). The queuing system is LPR compatible and allows a variety of output options. More details are available in the HELIOS EtherShare and HELIOS Base manuals.

HELIOS Admin printer settings/​jobs

Fig. 1.2: HELIOS Admin printer settings/​jobs

1.2.12 Remote login

Provided by UNIX built-in services

“rlogin” and “ssh” servers are available for all HELIOS supported UNIX platforms. Please refer to the OS vendor documentation and install the additional “ssh” server packages.

1.2.13 Remote management

Provided by HELIOS Base

HELIOS Admin (Fig. 1.3) is a client application which allows easy administration of the HELIOS software. Due to its Java-based design it can be used cross-platform on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and UNIX clients. Its GUI supports four languages: English, French, German, and Japanese.


Fig. 1.3: HELIOS Admin

1.2.14 SMB/​CIFS server

Provided by HELIOS PCShare

HELIOS PCShare includes an SMB/​CIFS server which is compatible with EtherShare volumes. It also supports Windows file streams and UNIX permissions, including a Windows Shell extension to view/​change UNIX permissions. Spotlight searches are also supported on Windows clients using HELIOS PCShare.

1.2.15 Spotlight server

Provided by HELIOS Base

The HELIOS UB2 release includes a Spotlight compatible Index Server service which can be enabled per volume (see Fig. 1.4). It is fully compatible with the Apple Spotlight properties and query language. Mac clients use it automatically via their mounted AFP volumes. Windows and Web clients can also perform Spotlight searches via PCShare and WebShare. Scripting solutions can use Spotlight searches via the HELIOS “dt” tools. The content indexing includes file names, text files, IPTC, XMP, and other image metadata information. PDF full-text indexing can be added via HELIOS PDF HandShake.


Search results depend on the different metadata being indexed, some formats (Keynote, video, audio, etc.) are not supported by HELIOS Index Server. However, some properties such as XMP or PDF form fields are only supported by HELIOS Index Server. Additional indexing plug-ins can be developed by third parties.

HELIOS Admin Spotlight settings

Fig. 1.4: HELIOS Admin Spotlight settings

1.2.16 Users & groups

Provided by HELIOS Base

With HELIOS Admin the migration of users and groups from one server to another is a cinch:


Install HELIOS Base on the Mac OS X Server.


Use HELIOS Admin to log in on both the Mac OS X Server and the new HELIOS server.


Drag & drop the local users and groups to the new HELIOS machine.

A new password must be assigned to each user. Migrate only real user accounts this way and omit all system accounts e.g. sys, wheel, root, www.

Network users (AD/​PDC, NIS, OD) can be used from the HELIOS server, without the need to create them anew.

1.3 Services provided by the OS or via third-party solutions

1.3.1 Address Book/​iCal

Provided by third-party solutions

This service synchronizes contacts and calendars across the network, based on the CardDAV/​CalDAV standard. There are several other implementations available, e.g. the Open Source Calendar and Contacts server >>.

1.3.2 iChat

Provided by third-party solutions

The iChat server is based on XMPP (also known as Jabber), the industry standard IM protocol. This enables support for Mac computers using iChat, as well as for other Jabber clients running on Windows PCs and iPhone.

1.3.3 Mail server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

Every UNIX OS includes mail servers to accept and deliver e-mails (MTA, e.g. Sendmail or Postfix) as well as server programs to fetch e-mail from the server via POP3 or IMAP (MRA, e.g. Cyrus IMAP, Courier Mail or Dovecot). Configuration of the e-mail server can be a very complex task. Therefore, we recommend use of one of the commercial e-mail servers as an alternate solution.

1.3.4 Mobile Access

Provided by Internet access routers

A service to provide secure access to Address Book, iCal, Mail, and Web services. The Internet access router normally provides a proxy for these services.

1.3.5 MySQL

Provided by third-party solutions

MySQL Community Edition is a freely downloadable version of the world's most popular open source database that is supported by an active community of open source developers and enthusiasts. MySQL download link >>

1.3.6 NAT (Network Address Translation)

Provided by OS or routers

The NAT setup is a special case where only one network interface goes directly to the Internet, via a “public” IP address. All intranet nodes have “private” IP addresses. All network communications from the intranet to the Internet are routed to the NAT IP address, and the NAT server then forwards these requests to the Internet. Some UNIX OS's (Linux and OS X) offer NAT services. Most networks have dedicated DSL routers to do this job.

1.3.7 Network time server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

A network time server is included in all UNIX-based operating systems. On AIX and Solaris it is called xntpd, on Linux ntpd. Please read the documentation for the setup.

1.3.8 NFS server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

NFS services are included on all UNIX systems, read the documentation for setup details.

1.3.9 QuickTime streaming

Provided by third-party solutions

QuickTime X streams audio and video. Alternatives include a free Darwin streaming server (see and the commercial Wowza Media server (see

1.3.10 RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service)

Provided by third-party solutions

RADIUS is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard for centralized Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) management for computers to connect to and use a network service. List of RADIUS servers >>.

1.3.11 VPN

Provided by UNIX built-in services/​third-party solutions

VPN is usually done via external router devices. Some UNIX OS's offer a VPN solution, or a third-party solution can be used.

OS Command
AIX ikedb
Solaris 10 openconnect (third party)
Linux vpnc, openconnect

1.3.12 Web server

Provided by UNIX built-in services

The Apache web server is included on Mac OS X Server, the same Apache web server is included with the UNIX complementary installation packages. Please read the vendor documentation for details. For Windows a separate download is needed. The main configuration file (“httpd.conf” or “apache2.conf” ) is compatible between OS X Server and other UNIX platforms running Apache.


Verify that any additional Apache modules in use (e.g. Perl, PHP, Tomcat) are already included with the new Apache server. All modules are available or can be easily downloaded.

1.3.13 Wiki

Provided by third-party solutions

A Wiki-based intranet website where users can work in parallel on different pages. There are many different Wiki packages available >>

1.4 Unavailable Services

1.4.1 Podcast Producer

Podcast Producer is a complete solution for encoding, publishing, and distributing podcasts.

1.4.2 Push notification

An iCal server addition which offers push notifications, for calendar changes.

1.4.3 Software update server

Provided by third-party solutions

There is no software update server available from HELIOS. However, there are free solutions available, e.g. Reposado (see

1.4.4 Xgrid

Xgrid is a proprietary software program and distributed computing protocol from Apple.

1.5 HELIOS supported server platforms

A detailed list of the Supported Platforms is available on the HELIOS website.

1.6 HELIOS maintenance options

HELIOS offers a range of maintenance options to ensure that customers receive help in case of performance and compatibility problems, as well as for product updates and upgrades. The following is available:

The first level support is done by the HELIOS reseller, the second level support is provided by the local HELIOS distributor in the country. HELIOS supports these partners to ensure customers get professional help. Most customers deploying HELIOS products use the “Software Upgrade Service Agreement” because it is the most economical solution which ensures that the installation is always up to date.

1.7 Products to replace Mac OS X Server

The Mac OS X Server is best replaced by the HELIOS File Server Bundle which includes Mac, Windows and remote web services as well as an advanced networking and printing system which is easy to install, administer and use.

Additional HELIOS product add-ons offer workflow automation, PDF production, image processing, HD color and proofing solutions. Detailed information can be found on the HELIOS website.

1.8 Summary

Transitioning from an Xserve server can initially appear to be a daunting proposition. But by changing to an OS with a similar UNIX heritage, such as AIX, Solaris, or Linux, and adding the Mac compatible services and server admin provided by HELIOS EtherShare, replication of most services can be achieved. Any remaining services, if needed, can be maintained on a dedicated Mac system. The new freedom to select server hardware opens up many great options, to optimize systems for each site's specific needs. The additional HELIOS server features such as superior cross-platform compatibility, server fail safety, and the advanced printing system, will take the new server beyond the Xserve, to be a more productive server for Mac, Windows, and Web clients.

So layer a solid UNIX OS on a modern server system, and add the HELIOS Server Solutions Suite of EtherShare, PCShare, and WebShare, to get a superb Xserve replacement.

1.9 Other web resources

HELIOS Website © 2011 HELIOS Software GmbH  
HELIOS Manuals February 7, 2012