Apple puts macOS Server On the Chopping Block

macOS Server Icon

Lost yesterday in the flurry of software updates that included iOS 11.3, macOS 10.13.4, watchOS 4.3, and tvOS 11.3, followed by the disappointment of iCloud messages and Airplay 2 once again being pulled last minute from the public release, Apple pushed an update for their server package (5.6) that warns users of a big change coming in the Fall of 2018.

This is the statement attached to the update package:

This Fall, Apple plans to cease bundling the open source services (Calendar Service, Contacts Server, Messages Server, Mail Server, DNS, DHCP, VPN Server, and Websites) in macOS Server, and will guide customers to acquire these same services directly from the open source providers. For more information, please refer to: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208312

To help prepare for this transition, these services — which are still included in macOS Server 5.6 — will no longer be visible in the Server App sidebar for new installations. Existing installations that update to macOS Server 5.6 will be unaffected and will continue to work as usual.

We continue to actively develop and support other features of macOS Server, including Open Directory, Profile Manager and Xsan management. 

These changes have been expected for a few months, as first reported by 9to5mac.com.

Apple also plans to remove from the Server app Wiki, Radius, Net Boot, Firewall, FTP, Server Docs, and Airport Management (least surprising considering the neglected state of Airport hardware).

Most of these options are available as open source packages, or are baked in to High Sierra (pun intended).

It’s not completely surprising that Apple is deprecating their Server app. They discontinued their Xserve line almost eight years ago, and have been trending away from network and commercial architecture and software for years.

If you’re using an existing macOS Server installation, it’s safe to update to 5.6, as you will continue to be able to use these features until this fall. Until then, the small market of Server users (myself included) will be spending the next six months drawing up a conversion plan.

Stay tuned, I guess.