An interview with Charles Edge – Part 1

Author of Using Mac OS X Lion Server: Managing Mac Services at Home and Office and the recently released Instant Apple iOS Configuration Utility How-to, as well a speaker on the conference circuit including, DefCon, BlackHat, LinuxWorld, Macworld and the WorldWide Developers Conference,  Charles Edge has  built a well deserved, solid, reputation within the Mac community over the last decade.
As fans of his work on, and, and with the anticipated release of the next OS X just around the corner, our Mac consultants and trainers have asked Charles several questions about the future of OS X, his favourite Apple product.. and much more.

For part 2, click here.

Amsys: How did you start out in Macs?
Charles Edge: We had 2 labs of Mac Classic systems in high school. Then there were LCs in the labs I worked at while at the University of Georgia. My parents also switched to the Mac while I was in college, so I kinda’ stayed working on the platform for a long time.

But after working with Solaris and Windows Servers in the earlier part of my career, I landed at 318 during the end of the AppleShare IP era and suddenly with the advent of OS X Server I found I knew how to do all this weird Unixy kinda’ stuff everyone else in the community at the time didn’t.

Amsys: What do you think Apple’s server offering will look like in 3 years time?
Charles Edge: I have no clue. The engineers that make the products are really good, so provided the OS X Server app sells well then I’m gonna’ guess it will just keep getting better. Like any other app, if people don’t buy it then I don’t know what the future will hold.
Capitalism is a wonky thing that way and I’d argue that Server will be judged in terms of how well the app performs. Having said that, it’s profitable, so if it underperforms by Apple’s standard (where it has to compete with things like OS X, Keynote and Pages) then third party developers will step in and fill the gaps that are left by the product provided it’s still possible to do so.

Amsys: Where do you see OS X going over the next 5 years?
Charles Edge: The reason I ended the previous question about whether it’s still possible is this… What would we do if apps were automatically sandboxed in OS X in the same way they’re sandboxed in iOS? Currently developers (or you) define the sandbox that an app receives. But if you can’t gain administrative access to a host then you basically can’t be a daemon and therefore you can’t be a server.
I hope that, as with Android, OS X always gives us root without a jailbreak. The day it does, I’ll have to switch my own desktop platform to Linux, rather than running it as a VM on my desktop platform – ’cause after all, I’m still a hacker at heart…
Amsys: For large Mac installations what is your preferred deployment and management tool?
Charles Edge: Whatever’s right for the job. At 318 we either deploy or resell about 10 products and contribute code to the open source worlds, so I’m required to be very politically correct with this answer. But I do honestly find that it’s situational. In some cases I would absolutely use one product over another.

mac set up at amsys soho

Amsys: With the advent of profiles for OS X, how long do you see Managed Preferences hanging around for?
Charles Edge: Profiles use local managed preferences, so while I see various managed preferences getting broken over time (or now), I see some form of it sticking around forever unless we’re locked out of the back end of the system eventually. With our customers, I have migrated and continue to migrate as many of our customers to pure profile environments already and am trying not to setup any new managed preferences environments moving forward, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Amsys: What do you think the next version of OS X is going to be called?
Edge: iOS 7? No really, I have no clue. I thought Snow Lion, then we got Mountain Lion, so I feel like I was close last time. But, I bet there’s a team of marketing people, most of which are wearing skinny jeans and have directors glasses on, maybe even an ironic hat of some sort, but definitely an “I’m so cool it hurts” smug smirk. They pretend to be vegetarians and then sneak bacon, while pretending like there was something original about Scott Pilgrim… Anyway, those people, given how much cooler they are than I, are probably figuring out the answer to that question right now. I would lobby for Snow Lion again, but at this point, I think it’s time to drop the cats and change. Unless OS X 10.9 will be the end and then you just have to get one last shot. I’d prefer Griffin.
Amsys: Will a tablet ever be powerful enough to replace a desktop machine?
Charles Edge: With the way things are going it has to get powerful enough. Now that the Kernel is the same and certain design elements are flowing back and forth from iOS to OS X it’s just a matter of time before a full OS unification.

Click here for part 2