With all the security and convenience advantages of MAC over Windows and even Linux, a small but growing number of web hosting providers are using Mac OS X as the basis for a hosting service platform. Mac OS X includes an Apache server, so that it is basically ready to be customized as an operating system that is ideal for open source applications such as PHP, Perl, Python or even Java. The Apache compatibility has been available ever since version 10.0, which also included the necessary Apache, PHP and MySQL support for hosting applications, so that it is considered reliable. Hosting Observer comparison site provides an opportunity to find the best web host among mass-market hosting providers, has been offering Mac OS X hosting and garnering much industry and consumer acclaim, so that it is reasonable to believe that the legendary reliability, security and ease of use of Mac OS X pertains to its use as an operating system for a hosting server just as it pertains to use for single computers and on networks.
The Evolution of Mac OS X as an Operating System
–The Early Versions
Even version 10.0, known as Cheetah and released in 2001, was ready for use as a web hosting server. As the operating system progressed through its legendary feline iterations, more features that added to its ease of use as a web hosting server were added. In fact, the first major advance as far as hosting was concerned came as early as 2003, when the 10.2 or Jaguar version, which followed the 10.1 Puma server version, added Samba. Samba is a software package that allows file, print and domain integration with Windows clients and servers, so that theoretically a Mac OS X server could run on the same network as a Windows hosting server and allow for open source and ASP.NET on the same account.
The subsequent (2005) 10.4 Tiger version of Mac OS X Server added Spam Assassin to its growing list of features. This meant that it could be used to root out spam at the E-mail hosting level, as it complemented the mail servers that had been added as early as the Jaguar version. And it was with the 10.5 Leopard version in 2007 that Mac OS X truly became a full featured option for a hosting server that could be used by even a company that strove to become the best host in its class.
–Leopard and Snow Leopard
Specific improvements that catapulted the Leopard version of Mac OS X into the ranks of full featured server systems included Wiki server, iCal server, and Spotlight Server, all features that made Mac OS X useful in particular for corporate intranet hosting, or for domains where information was to be shared among individuals responsible for the site or application who remained in separate, remote locations. As could be expected, each successive version of Mac OS X was compatible with the most up-to-date versions of PHP and MySQL, so that Leopard was compatible with PHP 5.2 and MySQL 5.0.
At present, the current version of Mac OS X is called Snow Leopard, and it is the most commonly used version of the operating system as far as hosting is concerned. It has been available since 2009, and in 2010, it was adopted by a major hosting company that began to aggressively promote their Mac hosting capabilities. 1.3 times faster than its predecessor, Mac OS X Snow Leopard includes features that are specifically geared to the modern web hosting server operator. Compatible with the very latest versions of Apache, MySQL and PHP, the newest version of OS X Server allows for virtual hosting of multiple websites, with each one having its own control panel and IP address. SSL integration allows for the security that many websites and applications now demand, and WebDAV is included for collaborative Web content publishing. CGI support and full dynamic content hosting including Perl, Ruby on Rails, Tomcat, and Python is integrated into Snow Leopard as well.
Finally, Snow Leopard, which is rightfully promoted by Apple as an ideal server for Web 2.0 hosting, also boasts a 64-bit Java virtual machine. This makes Mac OS X Server compatible with enterprise-class applications that run on the latest Intel-based servers. Its legendary user-friendly interface has been improved as well, allowing for fast and easy setup of the system and rapid deployment.
In short, Mac OS X has evolved from a bare-bones operating system for open source web applications to one of the most powerful, stable, easy to use and full-featured options for PHP and similar hosting.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantages of using Mac OS X Server in hosting applications is security. Apple has hired top hackers to attempt to penetrate its operating systems, and so far all have failed. Because a hacker could not possibly access the tree structure that actually enables access to crucial files, Macintosh has been selected by the U.S. Army to replace Windows. In addition, it is easier and faster to operate, so that less time is needed to set up new accounts and virtual hosting. Finally, its Intranet features make cloud or virtual Mac OS X based accounts ideal for corporations who will use the included features for internal communication and collaborative content or application development.
The major disadvantage of Mac OS X Server is cost. Like all Apple products, both the operating system itself and the hardware needed to run it are more expensive, especially when compared to Linux.
A hosting guide that wants to be known as the best comparison web host available should have clients offering Mac OS X Server hosting based on Snow Leopard to its clients. Such hosting can be offered as either cloud or shared hosting, and its availability should be mentioned on Hosting Observer in order that customers can make the right decision. Nevertheless, it occupies a small niche compared to Linux or Windows hosting server systems.