VMWare vSphere Hypervisor 6.7 supports MacOS 12.13 (and 12.14!)

I am running  VMWare’s free vSphere Hypervisor (formerly known as ESXi) on my Mid-2011 Mac Mini Server (Macmini5,3) for many years . Earlier this year VMWare introduced vSphere Hypervisor 6.7 but as it was not really clear what it would add and I had a stable environment I decided not to upgrade (yet) when it came out.

However, ever since Apple introduced the APFS filesystem with MacOS High Sierra, special care was required to install (or upgrade) a MacOS VM on vSphere Hypervisor as the built-in EFI boot did not support this. Since I had to create a new MacOS Server today, I decided to give this update a try to see if it would support MacOS High Sierra. Documentation was not very clear on this, but it turned out that with this version of vSphere Hypervisor, MacOS 12.13 (as well as 12.14!) is supported, as this is how the dropdown when creating a new VM now looks like for MacOS:

This post contains the steps to perform an upgrade from vSphere Hypervisor 6.5u1 to 6.7 on my Mid-2011 Mac Mini Server, including the installation of the (not included) VMWare Tools image for MacOS.

Continue reading “VMWare vSphere Hypervisor 6.7 supports MacOS 12.13 (and 12.14!)”

MacOS Server Replacement #2 – Migrating PostgreSQL

As part of the migration of my MacOS Server to Linux the next service to migrate is my PostgreSQL engine. Although PostgreSQL had already been hidden in MacOS Server for some time, it still was included (as internal services like ProfileManager and Calendar and Addressbook Server depend on it.  Despite it being hidden, I had still enabled it (manually) and hosted my PostgreSQL databases on my MacOS Server for ages. Despite migrations sometimes being a pain (i.e. not automatic) this worked well so far, including integrating it with the MacOS Server way of using transaction logs for offline backups. (so I will also have to look for a new way to do this). Continue reading “MacOS Server Replacement #2 – Migrating PostgreSQL”

MacOS Server Replacement #1 – Migrating MySQL to MariaDB

As part of the migration of my MacOS Server to Linux the first service to migrate is my MySQL 5.7 engine. Although MySQL is not part of MacOS Server anymore for a long time (and I had installed it separately), I will cover the migration here as 1) I still had it running on my MacOS Server and 2) the migration wasn’t smooth so decided to share my learnings here. Continue reading “MacOS Server Replacement #1 – Migrating MySQL to MariaDB”

Apple totally strips MacOS Server

Today I noticed that there was a new update for MacOS Server that had quite a lengthy explaination:

As per Apple Knowledge Base article HT208312, the once great Apple Server product as this fall will be reduced to:

  1. Profile Manager
  2. Open Directory
  3. Xsan

The rationale of this is, according to Apple:

In fall 2018, Apple will stop bundling open source services such as Calendar Server, Contacts Server, the Mail Server, DNS, DHCP, VPN Server, and Websites with macOS Server. Customers can get these same services directly from open-source providers. This way, macOS Server customers can install the most secure and up-to-date services as soon as they’re available.

Continue reading “Apple totally strips MacOS Server”

Signal Desktop stand-alone OS X Application

For quite some time I am an happy user of Open Whisper Systems’ Signal Messenger phone application as alternative to WhatsApp. The fact that this solution is open source and that the exchange of messages (and now also calls) is secure and that this can be verified by anyone are important and valuable. I use it on my phone but as I spend most of my time behind a laptop and still (call me old-fashioned) prefer a real keyboard over a touch screen I have been looking for a way to use it from my laptop as well. Continue reading “Signal Desktop stand-alone OS X Application”

Mac OS X SSH Client asking for password after upgrade to Sierra 10.12.2

After installing of OS X (MacOS) Sierra update 10.12.2 I noticed that SSH connections started to ask for the password of my RSA key. This wasn’t how it worked before and not what I want (as I trust my MacBook Pro) as it is quite annoying.

For the current session the solution was quite simple, just run the command: ssh-add -A

There seem to be many discussions online in what is causing this (i.e. here) with strange theories and odd (or not working) solutions. As documented also here, the root cause seems to be that the upstream OpenSSH code has changed and that Apple’s developers are following the changes.

The solution is fortunately quite simple: just create a file called ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.openssh.plist with the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
    <dict>
    <key>Label</key>
    <string>Add SSH Keys to SSH Agent</string>
    <key>ProgramArguments</key>
    <array>
      <string>/usr/bin/ssh-add</string>
      <string>-A</string>
    </array>
    <key>RunAtLoad</key>
    <true/>
  </dict>
</plist>

And from the next login onwards your SSH key will be added to ssh-agent again.

Mac OS X Lion (10.7) on my (upgraded) Late 2006 Mac Mini

After yesterday’s upgrade of my Late 2006 Mac Mini (MacMini1.1) it was time today to see if I could get OS X 10.7 (Lion) working on it. As per  discussions on Apple’s discussion forms this should be possible (as the hardware supports after the upgrade I did). However, the standard OS X Lion installation did not want to install on this hardware yet. As per the discussion on MacRumors.com I had to remove the file

/System/Library/CoreServices/PlatformSupport.plist

before the installation wanted to start. Once I did that, I could do a clean install on the new SSD Harddisk withougt any issues or additional hacks needed. Also transferring the users, apps and settings from the old system still on the external USB harddisk went fine and actually totally surprised me (I never used it before) as it turned the clean install in a totall usable system including the configuration of the OpenDirectory server.

After the installation it is important to enable Trim support on OS X to extend the lifetime of my SSD harddisk with the excellent tool Chameleon.

Right now I am very happy with the end result: a Late 2006 Mac Mini running OS X Lion (10.7):
Late 2006 Mac Mini after upgrade

Obviously only 3 Gb of memory is available as that is the max. the hardware supports, but still this is a very good solution to have a 2nd Mac Mini system for my children.

Upgrading a late 2006 model Mac Mini

One of the Macs in our house is a late 2006 model Mac Mini (MacMini1.1 model MA206LL/A). The machine itself still works hapily with Mac OS X Leopard (10.6), but it only has 2Gb of memory and since its harddisk broke a while ago, it is working from an USB harddisk. All in all technically still OK, but terrible user experience as it is just slow.
Today I did some investigation on the Internet to see to what extend this old machine can still be upgraded and bumped into an interesting overview on xlr8yourmac.com. It turns out that the basics are quite good and with a few changes it can still be used for some time:

  • CPU – currently a Core Duo that could be replaced with a Core 2 Duo
    The Core Duo processor is a 32-bit one that does not support 64-bit OS X. Fortunately the processor is on a socket (and not soldered to the main board) and its pin layout is identical to Core 2 Duo models. This is also being discussed on Apple’s discussion forum (still exists so Apple is not stopping it) and according to posts on MacRumors.com others have done this successfully, so this is definitely something I will try. Guess what, there is even a step-by-step guide on iFixIT on how to do it!
  • Memory – currently limited to 2GB but potentially could support 3Gb (of 2x 2Gb)
    Memory is limited to 2Gb (2x 1Gb) with the Core Duo processor, but the Core 2 Duo can support up to 4Gb (2x 2Gb) of memory. Unfortunately the MacMini1.1 model firmware does not support it but it turns out to be possible to flash the firmware of a MacMini2.1 as the folks on the NetKas forum explain. The links to the firmware no longer worked, but I found them on a French Mac Forum thanks to this post. After this upgrade 3Gb can be used, which is still 50% more than the machine had.
    There is a separate step-by-step guide on iFixIT for replacing the memory, but I don’t think I will need it as I will do it when I replace the CPU.
  • Harddisk – currently broken 5400rpm 80Gb disk, replacing this with a 60Gb SSD harddisk is a no-brainer
    Replacing a broken harddisk for an SSD disk is nothing fancy, though it is important to enable Trim support on OS X after replacing it when you use a non-Apple disk. For this I found the excellent tool Chameleon some time ago for my Macbook Pro.
    Also for this step there is a step-by-step guide on iFixIT, that I won’t need either as I will install the new harddisk when I replace the CPU.
  • Software – currently OS X Leopard (10.6) is the maximum
    Replacing the Core Duo CPU for a Core 2 Duo would turn the MacMini1.1 effectively into a Macmini2.1, which is capable of running OS X Lion (10.7) according to discussions on Apple’s discussion forms. There is apparently only one hack needed (removal of a file on the installation media) to be able to perform a clean install according to a discussion on MacRumors.com.

As I am not that uncomfortable with opening my old Mac Mini (did it before when I added memory) and the other steps appear doable, I will give this a shot. I just ordered the components and plan to perform the upgrade next weekend (assuming all parts will be in).

Restoring OpenDirectory on Mac OS X Mountain Lion Server

After some more checking on the contents of the /Recovered Items folder left over after my failed upgrade of OS X from Lion to Mountain Lion I decided to proceed with re-installation of the components to see if I could get things back as they were again.

The first step was to install the Server component again (which has gone missing after the upgrade). This only took a simple purchase of the Server.app component in the App Store. After that I had a Mac Server again and could start my reinstallation.

The first component to reconfigure was the Open Directory component. It was extremely important for me not to lose that one as it contained all my users, their passwords and group membership as well as all the e-mail addresses each user had (I am hosting a few different domains, re-creating that would mean a lot of work).

When I enabled the Open directory server component, I had to specify how I wanted to configure that. This screen included an option to import a backup. As I still had the whole data structure from my previous installation, I tried that first but that did’t work. Then I noticed that the directory /Recovered Items/private/var/backups/ contained a file called ServerBackup_OpenDirectoryMaster.sparseimage that was less than a day old. I selected that file as backup, which was accepted to restore from and it looks like that did the trick. My users were restored and I could also login with my regular userID again.

Based on this initial success I decided to rebuild the rest of my server as I knew the other components (PostgreSQL, Postfix, Dovecot, etc) pretty well from when I hosted everything still on Linux… I will continue to document the steps I took as well as my custom setup as it may be useful for others.

Upgrade to Mountain Lion Server Failed…

Today I decided to (finally) upgrade my Mac Mini Server running OS X Lion Server to Mountain Lion Server. The upgrade was way overdue and Mountain Lion appeared to be pretty stable by now, so I decided to make the switch this weekend. Based on other’s good experiences, I had made a last Time Machine backup, disabled incoming mail on my firewall, purchased the update to Mountain Lion in the App Store and started the process.

Unfortunately after about 1 hour of processing i got a message like "Upgrade Failed, system will now restart". After this restart it turned out I was left with a vanilla install of Mac OS  X on my Mac Mini Server. It even started to ask all the 1st time questions again including whether I wanted to register my server wit Apple again. Once I logged in it turned out that indeed I had a vanilla installation of the bare OS X Mountain Lion system on my Mac Mini Server, still without the Server components (which was expected). Fortunately all user data was still were it should be (in /Users) but apart from that all system settings and other data (opendirectory, databases, mail, calendars, contacts, etc.) turned out to have moved to a folder called /Recovered Items. Apple… WTF?

A quick scan indicated that no data appears to be lost (pfew…) but I need to do some investigation on how to recover from this and decide whether I want to restore my backups (which eventually won’t resove anything as the next upgrade would probably fail again). The good thing is that although my Mac Mini Server itself is vital for my infrastructure (it runs a few Linux VMs), but it’s own functions are limited to Nameserver, Mail/Calendar/Contact Server and Fileserver for my other Mac. This may be a good moment to start from scratch and document my customizations while recovering…