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Discover the Power of Open Directory (Part 3)

by Noah Gift

If you have been following this three-part series on Open Directory, you will have seen in the last article that it is relatively easy to use NFS to host common home directories for Linux and OS X clients. It is also quite simple to use existing NFS file servers of any type for home directories for Open Directory.

Open Directory is possibly the most agile and flexible directory server on the planet. In this final article, we are going to cover two items. First, we will take a look at MCX, or Manage Client for OS X, and see how we can use the OS X specific schema attributes for Mobility, a way of synchronizing laptops to a network profile, and changing Dock settings. Finally, we will travel into the Wacky World of Windows and make Windows use Open Directory for authentication and Home Directories.

Using MCX for Mobility and Account Configuration

Recall that in the last article our OS X client has a NFS Home Directory. While it is incredibly cool that OS X and Linux share the same directory, it would be even cooler if your OS X laptop could cache the network home directory locally and synchronize changes when you get back to your home network.

With Mobility it is a snap. Wouldn't it also be great if you could control the look of all of new accounts before they are even created? MCX does this as well.

Setting Up Mobility

Let's highlight our "oduser" from Parts 1 and 2 and go to the Preferences section and select Mobility. Under Rules, Manage, select Always and make sure that ~/ is set for Login & Logout Sync and Background Sync. These options are fairly intuitive and I will leave it to your best judgment to decide on how to configure options like background synchronization. Refer to Figures 1 and 2 to get an idea of what this should look like.

Figure 1. MCX preferences

Figure 2. Enable synchronization

Finally, refer to Figure 3 to make sure that your account has the option Synchronize account for offline use.

Figure 3. Create offline synchronization

Now let's go to our client and test things out. Log out of your oduser account if you're logged in and then log back in. You will immediately be prompted with a dialog asking if you would like to create a Mobility account. Approve this request, and you will now have Mobility. If you see something like Figure 4, then Mobility has been set up.

Figure 4. Mobility enabled

Next, let's create a document on your desktop by doing a screen capture of your desktop. Select Sync Home Now as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Sync home now

This action will synchronize everything in your home directory with your network profile. If you now shell into your Linux box as oduser you will notice there is a picture in your desktop! This is just scratching the surface, but will hopefully give you some ideas of how to use Mobility.

Figure 6. A Sync picture

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