Supplanting .Mac with OS X Server (Calendaring)

by Tom Bridge

With many people looking at their bottom lines this year looking to trim the fat from their budgets, it should come as no surprise that many eyes are on .Mac, a nominally good service without significant applications for many Mac users. The problem is that it's more expensive than many of its counterparts in the webhosting space, and that's something that's been discussed here in the past.

What about using the WebDAV capabilities in Tiger Server, to broadcast your calendar?

Now, this makes a few assumptions: You have a Tiger Server handy or know a kind sysadmin who wouldn't mind prodding around under the hood. You understand some of the basics of WebDAV and calendaring. I realize this solution isn't for everyone, but every small business that's trying to do calendaring well ought to use this free alternative to expensive syncing services to make their own calendars. Here's how...

9 Comments

Holger
2006-02-09 14:16:35
We're doing this since we upgraded to OS X Server and our customers love this feature of our site. Mac OS X Server also supports out-of-the-box LDAP-Authentication (our server is conected to another LDAP-System) for your realms. Nice and very easy to configure.
Ray
2006-02-09 17:24:17
I would skip the phpCalendar step, which is only required for viewing the calendar on the web. Most Mac users that I know would prefer to subscribe to a calendar and view it in iCal.


Just configure WebDAV on a directory, set your permissions and access and any authorized user can write the ics file.

David
2006-02-09 18:41:36
Save yourself the trouble of setting up your own WebDAV server and still save $100. You can publish your calendar at http://www.icalx.com/ for free.
Kevin
2006-02-09 19:22:28
Man, ten friends and our own Mac Mini Tiger server with full control. That's really a great idea.


Also, thanks for the icalx tip, David. That's just one more free service that .Mac is charging for that may well keep me from renewing my .Mac subscription this August. The value of .Mac is decreasing rapidly for me.


I really wish Apple would give .Mac a lot more MMPH! I want PHP, MySQL, more space, bandwidth, flexibility, complete syncing of address book, faster iDisk, online editable calendars and for them to do something else revolutionary that will make me drool. Unfortunately, the chance that even one of these wishes will come true is pretty low, given their current track record.

leeg
2006-02-10 01:30:59
I already do this on OS X Server but then I work on a Mac network for a living. It's possible to go through all of this on the client too; then you don't need to fork out for OS X Server or for a new Mac :-). You need some command-line skills; but not many because you can basically just turn the web server on in SysPrefs->Sharing then follow this recipe http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20020912065811863 :-)
Andy
2006-02-11 23:55:35
People need to keep in mind one important thing: audience. Who is Apple's target audience for .Mac? I certainly don't think it's developers or other tech-savvy individuals that are able to conjure up other solutions (such as PHP iCalendar or icalx.com).


Aperture went through the same thing: so many technical people analyzing and reviewing it, telling us what they think it is or what it should be, how it compares to other products in the market that are really nothing like it at all, then—authoritatively—passing judgement and telling us how far short it really falls. But get it into the hands of a real-life professional photographer, then listen to how much they love it, how great it is, and how it really does help them do their job.


.Mac is more than just a service—it is a product.


That said, what I wish Apple would do is open up their syncing infrastructure a little more, or make it easier to create and manage your own .Mac-like service in OS X Server. Having a Mac Mini and OS X Server (Tiger, of course) myself, I would like to be able to configure and start up some services that I could then point all of my .Mac-enabled features in my OS X clients to:


I would like iDisk to connect to my own server. I would like to sync my calendars to my own server and have them displayed in a nice HTML format (for all of my friends who have yet to discover the bliss that comes from owning a Mac). I would like to sync my web pages, iPhoto libraries, Safari bookmarks, and Address Book to my own server, much like one can to .Mac.


So, enough of this rubbish about charging less for .Mac just because it falls short of our expecations. It is a great product for the technically challenged. Instead, let those of us who are more adept sound the call for a new product. A product that will meet our heightened, more attuned needs:


The new .Mac Server. Coming this year (hopefully) with OS X Server (Leopard).

sjk
2006-02-13 12:03:01
So, enough of this rubbish about charging less for .Mac just because it falls short of our expecations. It is a great product for the technically challenged.


That's my perspective on .Mac and I don't expect it'll ever provide the kinds of services that certain technically sophisticated users would like. Seems Apple wants to intentionally keep it "dumbed down" and there are good reasons for it to remain that way.


Instead, let those of us who are more adept sound the call for a new product. A product that will meet our heightened, more attuned needs:


The new .Mac Server. Coming this year (hopefully) with OS X Server (Leopard).


Excellent idea. Even nicer if it could somehow be purchased separately, possibly requiring a Family Pack license. I'd think there'd be a market for a more affordable middle-of-the-road solution like that. I don't see personally spending $500 for a 10-client Server license at home but ~$250 for a 5-client "Server Lite" license that included .Mac Server would tempt me.

zappy
2006-02-14 04:09:40
".Mac Server" sounds like a great product. I would love to set one up for family and friends. But this means that all my family and friends do not need .Mac from Apple. Does Apple want this? Will they earn more with ".Mac Server" than with ".Mac"?
Neil
2006-02-27 13:59:58
You can use ifreebusy.com and get the same features, as well as the ability to translate to freebusy format for interopability with MS Outlook users, and share just your freebusy info via a web interface.