Inside Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Apple drops FTP, adds WebDAV file sharing for iOS

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
The upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion and Lion Server dramatically simplifies file sharing, removing official support for FTP and Sun's NFS file sharing protocols while adding a new WebDAV option making it easy to share files with iOS devices.



Changes in Mac OS X desktop file sharing



The most obvious change for desktop users is the removal of FTP from the available protocols in System Preference's File Sharing. FTP is a very simple, early protocol for making files available over the Internet, but offers little in terms of security.



While FTP is still available and configurable from the command line, it's no longer supported as an easy to turn on option in System Preferences, leaving only the Mac's native AFP and Windows-style SMB as options.



As noted previously, Apple's SMB (aka CIFS) file services are now home grown in Lion, as the company is no longer relying upon the Samba project to deliver its core Windows File Sharing software.



Developers working with the new build say FTP does appear to still be supported from the Finder as a download client. Apple has never supported FTP uploads from the Finder, necessitating a full fledged FTP client for users who need to both download and upload files.



The removal of FTP services appear to be motivated by the non-obvious security implications involved with opening up unencrypted FTP file sharing from a client system. Additionally, there are often better methods for sharing files, particularly for Mac users who depend upon support for file and file system features that FTP does not support well.







On page 2 of 3: Changes in Mac OS X Server file sharing



Changes in Mac OS X Server file sharing



Apple has billed its Mac OS X Server product as "open source made easy," rolling together a variety of standard Unix services and open source projects and integrating them within an approachable, graphical interface in Server Admin.



With the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple created two interfaces for Server: the ultra simple Server Preferences, which made configuring services as easy as setting options in System Preferences, and the more complex but powerful Server Admin (below).







In Lion Server, Apple has greatly enhanced Server Preferences and renamed the app simply Server. Rather than being a simplistic set of preference panels, the app has transformed into what appears to be a toned down Server Admin, with an interface reminiscent of iTunes or the Finder.







Apple also appears to have removed much of the duplicated overlap in functionality between Server Preferences and Server Admin, relegating all file system and many other user-facing services (including web, instant messaging, and contact, calendar and wiki services) to the new Server app while leaving only network and backend services (such as DNS, DHCP, Xgrid, and more complex Mail settings) to the more technically inclined Server Admin.



Formerly, configuring file sharing on Mac OS X Server involved turning on individual services (AFP, FTP, SMB or Sun's NFS), then configuring shared folders under the Sharepoint tab of each service. In Lion Server, Server Admin is no longer even used to set up file sharing. Instead, it's simply a matter of defining a folder and checking boxes for AFP or SMB support, just like a desktop Mac.



On page 3 of 3: WebDAV file sharing for mobile devices.



WebDAV file sharing for mobile devices



While Apple is dropping graphical support for both FTP and NFS (which is often used as a file sharing protocol in larger Unix environments), it's adding checkbox simplicity to WebDAV file sharing.



Previous builds of Mac OS X Server could define WebDAV shares as part of the configuration of web services, as WebDAV is an extension to a web server that enables it to allow clients to not just obtain web files, but also add, change or create new files on the server after supplying the appropriate credentials.



In Lion Server, WebDAV has moved out of the back corner of the web services configuration and is now positioned as a prominent file sharing protocol. WebDAV will allow Mac users to define shared folders that iOS devices will be able to access. Apple even defines WebDAV file sharing in the interface as being expressly for iOS clients.







The ability to find and access WebDAV file shares is likely to become a primary feature of iOS 5.0 this summer. Right now, iOS devices are limited to using iTunes File Sharing to copy files between iPhone or iPad apps and a desktop computer, or users can simply email files as attachments. It's currently not possible to upload files via Safari, nor is it possible to download most files over the web to save locally (outside of photos).



Apple also uses the open WebDAV protocol as the basis for its Address Book Server for contact sharing and corporate address books, and its iCal Server for shared calendaring on Mac OS X Server; each use an extension to WebDAV, named CardDAV and CalDAV, respectively. iOS already offers support for these protocols, but hasn't yet adopted full support for push updates.



The company's "out with the old, in with the new" stance on supported file sharing protocols, combined with the much simpler and comprehendible interface of Server and its apparently free bundling with Mac OS X Lion (formerly requiring a $500 license), should dramatically increase the audience interested in Apple's server tools, which include easy to use but powerful and sophisticated calendaring, web, wiki collaboration, and new profile management tools for managing both Macs and iOS devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Very interesting, especially the WebDAV stuff. I'm curious what kind of iOS sharing I should think of seeing this, and what it means for Linux and Windows clients.



    Removing FTP from the UI only seems logical, it's like telnet in terms of security and features, completely outdated.
  • Reply 2 of 55
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,232member
    Server looks nice.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    Looks like, by simplifying (and eliminating redundancy in some of) the configuration panels, Apple is preparing for the Server edition to be adopted by a much wider audience.



    As for the near-elimination of FTP and NFS server protocols, FTP is rarely used anymore (at least not without SSH/SFTP), and any pure Unix shops utilizing NFS are almost certainly using Solaris (or another flavor of Unix) for file serving. As long as OSX still supports these protocols as a client, this should mostly be a non-issue.
  • Reply 4 of 55
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,554member
    From the status of the LInux web-dav system, I thought that protocol was considered dead. It's a great way to handle remote access, and I wish we could easily have a maintained system on our LInux server.
  • Reply 5 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post


    Looks like, by simplifying (and eliminating redundancy in some of) the configuration panels, Apple is preparing for the Server edition to be adopted by a much wider audience.



    Actually there is not going to be a Server edition. Server is actually going to be IN Lion. Meaning the $200ish(NZ) copy of Mac OS X will actually be a full server.



    There's no mention anywhere of a separate server edition on the Mac OS X Lion site.
  • Reply 6 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post


    Actually there is not going to be a Server edition. Server is actually going to be IN Lion. Meaning the $200ish(NZ) copy of Mac OS X will actually be a full server.



    That was actually my point - server and client are now the same package (although you don't have to install the server components). By including them both, Apple is putting server in the hands of a lot more people, hence the need for Apple to make it more approachable.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    This is great news. The easy access control panels in Mac OS X Server 10.5 were great; I ditched OS X server for MAMP on 10.6.



    My mac mini is my media center and web server; so I only needed the web services bit of OS X server.



    This means I can upgrade to Lion and go back to using OS X as the web server.



    I also use CrushFTP as the FTP server - much more control than OS X ftp access.
  • Reply 8 of 55
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member
    Pulling FTP sucks. I'm assuming this also means SFTP support available easily through the Preference Pane is also removed.



    This is a shame because it's a protocol that has free clients on every platform, is incredibly easy to use, and was incredibly easy to configure in OS X.



    Hopefully the command line won't be difficult to deal with or some 3rd party GUI app will be available.
  • Reply 9 of 55
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,569member
    Am I the only the one thinking that dropping FTP support is a bad idea?
  • Reply 10 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Am I the only the one thinking that dropping FTP support is a bad idea?



    It's looking like it.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    Pulling FTP sucks. I'm assuming this also means SFTP support available easily through the Preference Pane is also removed.





    I don't think SFTP is a real protocol anyway. SSH file sharing is probably still supported. I haven't tried Lion yet. I'm so busy right now, I probably won't get to test the beta this time.



    The whole notion of server admin GUI is an oxymoron for UNIX anyway. Having a separate version of Desktop and Server OS was dumb too unless you needed Apple specific stuff like Applescript or iCal. Once you have a certified POSIX version of UNIX running you just configure it to do whatever you need. Long live the shell.
  • Reply 12 of 55
    The new apple's in-home SMB implementation it's called SMBX an it's currently at version 88.



    It relies heavily on Mac OS X APIs and implements SMB2.

    All samba versions used in Mac OS X up to 10.6.7 implement only SMB1.



    SMB2 is a way faster version that was introduced in Vista.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Am I the only the one thinking that dropping FTP support is a bad idea?



    Well, initially I was a little bummed, but I can install ftpd or the like, or just use sftp, so I'm covered for my needs.



    As for NFS, as long as the client is still there (I use NFS for storage for my HTPC Mac Mini's), I can live with it.
  • Reply 14 of 55
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by claunia View Post


    The new apple's in-home SMB implementation it's called SMBX an it's currently at version 88.



    It relies heavily on Mac OS X APIs and implements SMB2.

    All samba versions used in Mac OS X up to 10.6.7 implement only SMB1.



    SMB2 is a way faster version that was introduced in Vista.



    Does it still litter the Win machine with .DStore and "." files all over the place?
  • Reply 15 of 55
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Does it still litter the Win machine with .DStore and "." files all over the place?



    I hate that too mstone, you'd think they'd have fixed that a long time ago. That's literally why some businesses don't allows Macs on networks. It's like they are allergic to money if it comes from the business world over at Apple or something. Also if they want Finder to remember Folder views perhaps just save one file somewhere with folder names/paths in it, basically merge all DS_Stores into one master file. I duno, I'm not a programmer.



    Someone said FTP isn't used anymore. Umm. Not on the Internets I use. It's a big deal. Very common. Ever download data from the government? This is just plain stupid on Apple. Here I was assuming they'd add FTP uploading to Finder. Along with NTFS write. Pff I won't wait up for that one I guess. And as for security, they should've just added sftp. Hmm...where did that copy of Fetch go..gotta clear the dust off it.



    10.7 sounds like it's going to be a turkey of a release at this point. Almost like a Windows Vista. They're like here, we're going to fix these useful features for you. By removing them.



    Kind of like how MS Office removed VBA. And better yet, support for .DBF files in Office after 2007 on PC or 2008 on Mac. (GIS needs .DBF, I'm sure some other industries do, too).
  • Reply 16 of 55
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Am I the only the one thinking that dropping FTP support is a bad idea?



    They aren't dropping "FTP support," just the lame download only FTP option in the Finder. Fetch and other GUI clients will still work fine. Besides, as other people have pointed out, using FTP as-is is negligently insecure as the username and passwords are transmitted unencrypted.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aquatic View Post


    I hate that too mstone, you'd think they'd have fixed that a long time ago. That's literally why some businesses don't allows Macs on networks. It's like they are allergic to money if it comes from the business world over at Apple or something. Also if they want Finder to remember Folder views perhaps just save one file somewhere with folder names/paths in it, basically merge all DS_Stores into one master file. I duno, I'm not a programmer.



    Someone said FTP isn't used anymore. Umm. Not on the Internets I use. It's a big deal. Very common. Ever download data from the government? This is just plain stupid on Apple. Here I was assuming they'd add FTP uploading to Finder. Along with NTFS write. Pff I won't wait up for that one I guess. And as for security, they should've just added sftp. Hmm...where did that copy of Fetch go..gotta clear the dust off it.



    10.7 sounds like it's going to be a turkey of a release at this point. Almost like a Windows Vista. They're like here, we're going to fix these useful features for you. By removing them.



    Kind of like how MS Office removed VBA. And better yet, support for .DBF files in Office after 2007 on PC or 2008 on Mac. (GIS needs .DBF, I'm sure some other industries do, too).



    You can disable the .dstore files on network shares with utils like Onyx (freeware). Handy tweak tool to do all sorts of various bits.



    The server install is still a separate install, but it is included in the image. if you install server you get the OS server, not the OS client with server tacked on.



    I'm bummed about FTP as well. What options are there for quickly setting up a shared folder for internet users to drop off or pick up files? I actually relied on that rather heavily and without it I'm not sure what I'll do going forward.
  • Reply 18 of 55
    ajftajft Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by claunia View Post


    The new apple's in-home SMB implementation it's called SMBX an it's currently at version 88.



    It relies heavily on Mac OS X APIs and implements SMB2.

    All samba versions used in Mac OS X up to 10.6.7 implement only SMB1.



    SMB2 is a way faster version that was introduced in Vista.



    Does anyone know if the new SMB implementation:



    1) implements offline files and folders -- this would seem to be a major killer for any implementation of Mac laptops on a business SMB network.



    2) can follow DFS links -- a nicety, buy sadly lacking in samba
  • Reply 19 of 55
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ajft View Post


    Does anyone know if the new SMB implementation:



    1) implements offline files and folders -- this would seem to be a major killer for any implementation of Mac laptops on a business SMB network.



    2) can follow DFS links -- a nicety, buy sadly lacking in samba



    The way the news reads, this is actually good news if you use a more modern implementation (post Windows Server 2000) as it integrates better into Active Directory, but you lose compatibility with older Windows Server 2000 NT domains. I consider that part a win since Server 2000 is over a decade old. If they have a fully fleshed out implementation, it should work with DFS links. I haven't seen anything about offline files though.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Our AIO Xerox printer uses either SMB or FTP for scanning to the network, in theory anyway. Since SMB could not be made to work (even with tech support), we fell back to FTP. I wonder if we are likely to be up a creek with this printer if Apple drops support for both SMB and FTP from Lion.
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