With the release of Mac OS X, Apple brought its easy to use interface together with one of the most powerful operating systems in the world, Unix. Knowing you have that "power under the hood" is reassuring, but what can you actually do with it? I spent some time recently installing and configuring Mac OS X Panther Server and comparing its functionality to the standard Mac OS X Panther install.
Apple included a few very simple ways for users to enable Web sharing and other tasks that utilize the Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X, but there are some other functions that the Mac and Unix communities have released applications for. Take Cocktail as an example - a really cool utility that puts a GUI on many common Unix functions.
You can also do things like enable your own mail or domain name server in the terminal (be warned, this is not for the faint of heart - if you don't know what you're doing, don't mess with these files). Several Mac OS X applications have been released to control the setup and maintenance of these types of servers, making the tasks much more manageable.
Sendmail Enabler (for Jaguar users) and Postfix Enabler (for Panther users) configures all of the files a user will need to turn on a local SMTP server. Instructions for activating POP3 and IMAP mailboxes are also included with the application.
It's amazing how many Unix applications are available to Mac users - from the looks of things, that trend will continue.