Apple users must sometimes feel like the middle child, left out of the great debate between Windows and Linux. It’s Windows this, Linux that, while Apple users can remember the glorious era of the Macintosh, the Apple II, and the iMac. There was a time when Apple was the hottest computer company around. In fact, they jumped to the mobile platform first, and have always been the market leader and innovator.
When it comes to the server market, it’s not so much that Apple got squeezed out of the market as that it never ventured there much to begin with. Apple has traditionally focused on the end-user. It designs first to be elegant and easy-to-use, where the server market is a world of grubby iron, happy with the valley between “cheap” and “gets the job done.” When it comes to capturing the position between the three systems and their history, nobody does it better than Neal Stephenson, so we’ll say no more.
Surprising Strengths of Apple
Not many people seem to know this, and indeed even Apple’s own marketing shies away from mentioning it, but Apple software has the same roots as Linux. Both originate from the Unix base operating system. Apple’s code is also partly BSD, another open-source Unix version like Linux, and partly descended from NeXTSTEP, the spin-off computer company started by Apple founder Steve Jobs. While other systems stay in their lane, so to speak, Apple likes to port in ideas and innovation from anywhere they can find it.
This puts Apple security on an equal footing with Linux. Along with that, both Apple and Linux use a similar operating system architecture, and both of them can run the Apache webserver. The Apple command line, once you use it, will feel right at home to a Linux user.
On the surface, there’s no obstacle to running any system you like on a server. They will all be compatible with your computer when you manage them, since the World Wide Web became the great system leveler. But going between operating systems is a pain sometimes, because of all the gratuitous incompatibilities. Anybody who has opened a Unix plain text file in Windows Notepad, or unzipped a file from an Apple user on a Linux command line, can tell you that.
Apple fans will like an Apple server more because they can use it seamlessly with their iPhone, Mini, iCloud, iTunes, Apple Mail, and other amenities. If they have an old site created in iWeb, it ports easier. If they use MacOS server at home, that’s just one more convenient hook into the system. It’s also refreshing to web-design for the Safari web browser and not worry about Internet Explorer quirks for a change.
Another plus is that if you run Macs and get a Mac-friendly hosting provider, their technical support people will know better than to tell you to open Internet Explorer.
For a server hosting plan, you will, of course, want one with the right-size bandwidth and disk space to suit your purposes. If you’re expecting heavy traffic or serving up large media files, you’ll want to accommodate that. The grades of typical hosting plans run from shared servers to virtual private servers to dedicated servers, from the smallest to largest resource demand.
You will want to know what level of customer support they have since there’s a road difference between power user veterans and people who need a bit of hand-holding.
Once in a while, people begin asking about their website’s environmental impact. With growing concerns over global climate change – some would say even “alarm” – there are options for web hosting providers with energy efficiency, carbon reduction, and eco-friendliness in mind. One such host is GreenGeeks, which also has Apple hosting plans.
Understanding the Apple Webmaster
Apple has traditionally appealed to a market share of users who like a well-designed product and don’t mind paying an extra dollar for it. Even the most radical open-source zealot will admit that at least with Apple, you obviously get something for your money.
Apple on the server is rare only because Apple sysadmins are rare. Chalk it up to personality quirks of server farm engineers, or, as we mentioned earlier, the fact that Apple doesn’t focus on this market. But for those who demand a web host that caters to their technology preference, there’s plenty of Apple users on the other end of the ethernet cable too.