I'm trying to allow access for multiple Mac clients with OS X Lion and user directories on a Lion server so users can login from any Mac in the network and access their profile.

I also want to install/autoupdate software or put configs on all clients.

I already took a look at patch management tools like munki but they don't seem to do what I'm looking for or their purpose/usage isn't clear.

I would be glad if somebody could point me in the right direction.


Well... You will need to run Open Directory, and set up network home folders within there.

Then, when yous OD clients log into yous Macs, they will be given access to their home folder from the server.

For mobile users, you will want to set up a Mobile Home Folder, perhaps with HomeSync.

Check out these documents from Apple: https://help.apple.com/advancedserveradmin/mac/10.7/

For your installing of software and configs, you will probably want to use Apple Remote Desktop


There are different levels of ease with which you can approach this, perhaps taking training or hiring a consultant would be your best bet to help you make the best decision on how to proceed. That being said, here's two ways to begin to accomplish what you're asking:

  1. Netbooting the computers from a centrally served image allows you to maintain the entire kit-n-caboodle, but is heaviest on the network and can be murky with software licensing.
  2. Portable Home Directories are what TheWellington is speaking of, which requires more setup and services to be in place, and doesn't take care of Apps that can't work from a users home folder. The process is: Once DNS, Open Directory and AFP are settled, you can bind workstations and clients can use the centrally managed credentials to access their home folder from any workstation. You can manage configs like group policy on Windows with Managed Preferences in Workgroup Manager. ARD can be helpful in reaching out to provide assistance for users as well, but it can't do everything well.

If neither of those take care of the entire picture, management suites like Casper and Absolute Manage(formerly LanRev) can do a good amount of what free, open source tools like Puppet(config state management) and Munki(patch management) could, depending on how far the above falls short of your goals.

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