Setting up an OS X Mavericks Server

This is a follow up piece to the previous guide I created. The last guide focussed on putting the power of local syncing back in your own hands. With 10.9.3 Mavericks now including the local USB syncing of Contacts and Calendars again, most people will likely move back to that rather than setting up their own server. For those like me that have set up their own server and wish to continue using it, this guide was created.

I set up my own server to sync Contacts, Calendars, Notes and Reminders over my local network to whatever device needed it. This worked very well and sometimes I even forget this is all being synced through my own server rather than iCloud. Since then I have added many services to get a lot more of what OS X Server has to offer. File Sharing, VPN so I can sync my contacts and other data while away from home, Profiles to manage multiple Macs faster and easier, Caching, Software Update and more.

Asking more of the server I had to make a few modifications to the Mac mini I was using. I added a second internal hard drive for storage, 8GB of RAM, a good size external drive for backups and setup the network to use aggregated links. Even with basic sync functionality restored in Mavericks, I will continue to use my server.

One of the big issues with Apple taking the local syncing away from us was privacy. So my last guide had the server set up as a private, local network only server. You can continue to use it like that but I have found uses for the server that require me to open it up to the internet. For this I will be using a domain I already had with a registrar and I set up the DNS to point that domain to my server. Because I have it set up this way this guide may include stuff you won’t need if you are keeping your server local. You can skip over these parts as everything else will still apply to local servers too.

Also, I decided to start from scratch. Several months of tinkering and experimenting will surely have left a lot of garbage on my system and possibly settings and preference files I do not need and/or may cause issues down the road. I backed up individual services and data like Contacts, Calendars, Notes and Reminders on the client computer but rather than backing up services on the Server I chose to clone the entire thing to an external drive. I did this because even though I have a fairly good idea how to back up user accounts, server settings and other information, I am not 100% sure. So to be safe and in case my re-install went awry, I cloned the server drive and data partitions to an external. This will allow me to import or even boot from the external drive if needed.

Let’s get started!

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