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small office network setup with Mac

Posted on 2011-03-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi everyone,

Just have a general/best practice question regarding a small-office Mac network setup.

I have a client who has (without advice) purchased 2 iMacs, 2TB Time Capsule, 1 Mac Mini server.

Currently, there are only 4 users (3 + admin account) and they are just basic accounts, created identically on each iMac. They plan to use the Mini essentially just as a file server.

They run BPOS for their email, setup in Outlook 2011.

I'm attending site soon to setup the server for them.

My question is, what would be the best practice for a setup like this? Can I have network accounts that can roam between both iMacs? Is it difficult to setup file sharing and permissions from the server side? Tips or advice?

I'm relatively green when it comes to Apple, even though I run a Macbook Pro as my personal computer.

Thank you
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Question by:samfpt
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Assisted Solution

by:roylong
roylong earned 500 total points
ID: 35115619
You have full control from the server if you want to set it up. Make the server an Open Directory master and add all your user accounts to this server. There are two key apps which you can run from the server or from your own MacBook. Workgroup Manager:
http://images.apple.com/server/macosx/docs/L355774B_WkgrpMgr_TB.pdf
And Server Admin:
http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/resources/documentation.html

You can set all the macs up for network logins exactly as you would in a windows AD environment.

Check out the links above and let me know if there are specific items you want to delve into.

You can share files using either AFP (apple file protocol) which is most reliable for macs but not supported by any other OS; SMB (windows file sharing) supported across the board; and NFS.
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Expert Comment

by:Smittles
ID: 35116768
Roylong is correct. Open Directory is pretty simple.
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Author Comment

by:samfpt
ID: 35119316
Thanks guys. Well to a predominantly windows administrator, OD isn't that straight forward :)

I've managed to get a basic setup working.

I've got a really dumb question to ask...

In a windows environment, Id now add the workstations to the domain and log on with new network accounts..

What is the equivalent on Mac?
I've created network users with home directories on the server..
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by:
roylong earned 500 total points
ID: 35121066
If you go to the workstation, log on as an administrator and go to system preferences.  Go to the accounts section and look for the directory log on button.  Log on to your OD domain with administrator credentials and then save and reboot.

You should now be able to log on as a domain user.

I have a feeling I missed a step, but I'm going from memory and I'll pull up my docs later to verify.
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Author Comment

by:samfpt
ID: 35121448
Ok, one last question before I close this one off. So far you're both getting accepted solutions.

I have now got 4 network users setup and I've got a much better handle on the setup.

My last issue is this; 1 of the 4 users can log on fine on both iMacs in the office. The rest all receive an error 'You are unable to log in to the user account USER at this time"

I've tried changing the AFP authentication from any to standard, I've tried deleting and recreating the home folders (using network home folders) and I've done a lot of googling...

Is there anything that stands out about this issue? It just seems bizzare that one user is fine and the other are not, I feel like I created them all in the same manner...
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by:roylong
roylong earned 500 total points
ID: 35121587
Can you check that you do not have a local user on those computers for the users who cannot log in? If the shortname of the local user created earlier before the OD set up matches the shortname of the new OD user then this may cause problems.

Also, it could be that it's the other way around and the only working user is the one who does have a matching local account - this would imply that the OD set up has a problem.  I will presume that it's the former though.

If you do have conflicting local accounts then you can rename the local folders and try to log in again.  If you have no data which needs saving you could just delete the local
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Assisted Solution

by:roylong
roylong earned 500 total points
ID: 35121591
user accounts  - ensuring you leave a local administrator account for administration.
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Author Comment

by:samfpt
ID: 35121607
Unfortunately all of the network accounts have identical local accounts, including the one that works.

To test around this, I created two other accounts that didn't have matching local accounts. One works, one doesn't. I'm at hair pulling stage. But your answers assisted me in the beginning, so I'll leave it at that.

Thank you
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Expert Comment

by:roylong
ID: 35121623
They may have matching full names, but do the shortnames match the user folder names already on the computers?  Do you get an error message?

Try logging in with those users to the server.
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Author Comment

by:samfpt
ID: 35121668
- Logging directly into the server with all users works ok
- On the workstations, the short names are the same on both local and network accounts
 (keeping in mind I'm using home folders on the server for the network, so there is only the local home folders on the machine)
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Expert Comment

by:roylong
ID: 35121737
you should try backing up a couple of local users, deleting them and the trying to log on again.. ..there is a local redirection to the server home folder which can have problems if there is a local user with that folder name already..

..this sometimes works if the password for the local user is the same as the password for the network user - which can mask the problem.
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Author Comment

by:samfpt
ID: 35125621
I'm not 100% that this was the fix, but...

Server Admin -> Access ->Services

I had each user listed with access to all services. Changed to allow all for all services and now they can login... very strange.

Thank you kindly for all of your assistance.

Now if you can tell me how to map all users to a common documents folder (as in, have the users Documents map to a network location) ..  :)
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