“Do servers need graphical user interfaces (GUIs)?” questions ZDNet Contributing Editor David Morgenstern in a new
column. Some folks have blasted the Xserve’s use of the Aqua interface as an unnecessary distraction.
“Sys admins are not impressed by screen candy,” IS manager Lynwood Hines told ZDNet. “And let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a ‘server for the masses.’ The masses don’t need or use servers; systems administrators are the folks who baby-sit servers. Less is more in server land, and cute GUIs are not a plus. At best, they consume machine resources that could be going towards useful work. At worst, they get in the way. Face it, there are very few Mac-centric networks out there. The market for this thing is tiny. I wish them all the luck in the world, but there’s nothing earth-shattering or society-changing about this server.”
IS manager Jay Trautlein said that some system admins recoil at the Mac operating system and need to forget the past and start thinking BSD Unix.
“You can run this server headless from the command line if you so desire,” he said. “The GUI is there for folks who cannot or will not learn Unix. Many smaller installations don’t have a dedicated IT staff. The ability to provide services to all workstation platforms from a single, easy-to-administer interface is very attractive to smaller institutions.”
Kayser Wong, a system administrator, likes Apple’s mid-level server entry. He said that with Apple’s direction (Mac OS X server and management), they’re gearing towards a customer-driven mode.”
As for Morgenstern himself, he feels that command line works great for “the well-trained individual with plenty of experience, and services such as batch files were more powerful than the GUI tools of the time.” And there is performance overhead for all the graphics and their associated interrupts, he writes.
“Nevertheless, a GUI made personal computing accessible to a vastly wider audience,” Morgenstern said. “… After all, and with all respects to the Bard, won’t a cron command — whether entered in a command-line interface or with a GUI tool — schedule just as sweet?”