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MacOS X Server to turn iMac into fully-fledged NC

Server OS to ship in February

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Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs effectively admitted that the iMac was a Network Computer after all today when he announced that the first commercial release of MacOS X Server will be available next month. Early iMac buyers quickly discovered that the computer had been designed to boot from a network. That, plus its built-in 100Mbps Ethernet port and lack of floppy drive, suggested that the iMac had indeed been the result of Apple's development of an NC, a project unofficially announced a year or so earlier by Oracle CEO, Apple board member and Jobs chum Larry Ellison. The missing component was the server software needed to make all this work, and that has finally arrived through MacOS X Server, and demonstrated at MacWorld Expo by booting a diskless iMac from a Power Mac running the new server OS. "The iMac thinks everything is being done locally," said Jobs, "whereas in fact its all being done on the server." He added the MacOS had been specially modified to allow this to work, but its not clear whether that applies to all versions of MacOS 8.1 (the first release the iMac shipped with) and above, or simply the release that the iMac ships with. According to Jobs, in most cases using a high performance Mac server as the storage medium via a 100Mbps Ethernet link is faster than using local storage. However, Apple is more likely to sell the technology to administrators of small scale networks, particularly in education, who want to reduce many of the headaches of managing individual machines. MacOS X will come bundled with an Apple version of the Open Source Web server application, Apache, plus Apple's own Web interactivity host, WebObjects, which the company is now beginning to pitch as an application server platform, if Jobs' Expo keynote was anything to go by. The OS will also support both Java and BSD Unix applications. It will ship next month for $995, which allows any number of clients to be connected to the server. ®

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