Thursday, June 15, 2006


Our department recently began imposing some IT standards and policies. Until now, we IT support folks have been supporting whatever computers and software our users wanted. If asked, we gladly made recommendations, but many of our users bought computers on their own, configured them themselves, and only called us in when they had a problem.

We have a mix of Windows users, Linux users and Mac users. Counting computers, it breaks down as roughly half and half Windows and Linux, with a small admixture of Macs. We've been able to provide pretty good Windows and Linux support, but the Mac users tended to do their own thing, and rarely called on us. When they did, we told them we'd make a best effort, but really didn't have much Mac expertise to offer.

The first phase of our "standards and policies" rollout includes putting new, standard (hardware and software) computers on all faculty desktops. As part of getting acceptance for the new computers, we're offering free support for them -- including the Macs. So now we're trying to ramp up our Mac support to match what we've been able to offer for Windows and Linux. This includes:

  • Standard software configurations
  • Nightly softwre updates (of vendor- and locally-supplied software)
  • Nightly backups
  • Status reports sent to a central server
Since we're Linux and Windows people diving into the guts of an unknown territory, I thought it might be useful to document our experience here, as we go along. The title of the blog comes from the observation that Mac OS X is to Unix as our universe is to that alternate universe where Spock has a beard. Similar, but way weird.

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