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Cory Bohon


Getting Your Server Online

You now have a fully functioning server that acts as an FTP server, Jabber chat, VPN, and CalDAV. That’s quite a feat, especially considering that you’ve got all of this for free on your Mac. Your server is fully functional on your LAN (local area network) using your IP Address to access the services, but if you want to have external access via the Internet, you’ll need to set up and configure a DNS solution.

We recommend using DynDNS, a free and easy to use service that will provide a simple DNS solution and domain name. This service gives you a domain name (i.e. “”) that you can navigate to with your web browser to access your Mac server without having to remember your ISP assigned IP Address (i.e. XX.XX.XXX.138).

To get DynDNS setup you’ll also need a router that supports Port Forwarding. You can do this on most modern wireless and wired routers. We’ll be using an Airport Extreme Base Station. For instructions on how to do this on other routers, give a try.

First things first, setup an account on DynDNS. Once you’ve created your free account and are logged into DynDNS, click Services at the top of the page, and then click Dynamic DNS.

Once there, click Dynamic DNS Free. Click the Get Started button, then fill in the hostname you’d like. We’re choosing "myhomeserver," then use the drop-down box to select the post-fix of the address.

In this instance, we chose "" This will be the address we will enter into our browser to access the home server. Under Service Type make sure Host with IP address is selected, click Use your currently detected IP address under the IP Address section, then click Add to Cart.

Don’t let this fool you, it’s completely free. Once you enter the shopping cart, click next, then Activate Services. Your domain name is now activated, but there’s still more to configure.

Unless you have a static IP address with your ISP, you’ll need to download the DynDNS Updater for Mac to ensure DynDNS is always updated with your new iP address. Open the DMG and drag the DynDNS app to the Applications Folder on your Mac. Once installed, launch the application.

When the app launches, enter in your login information. Your available domain names appear, select the one you just created, then click "Enable updating for this host." If everything goes well, you’ll see a green dot appear next to the host name under your account on the left side of the window. You’ve now configured DynDNS to translate your domain name into the IP Address for your home Internet access.

Before you begin configuring the router, we need to make sure the Mac you’re using has a static IP Address that won’t change like a dynamic address does. Navigate to System Preferences > Network.

If you’re using a wireless click AirPort, click Advanced. Click TCP/IP, then the Configure IPv4 drop-down box and select Manually. This will allow you to specify a manual IP Address that’s static.

In the IPv4 address field, type in an address like and click OK and then click Apply. This will be the Mac’s static IP Address on the LAN.

If you’re using an Ethernet connection for your router, click Ethernet and change the drop-down Configure IPv4 option to Manually. In the IPv4 Address type in an address like and click Apply.

Now it's time to prepare your router

If you’re using an Airport Extreme, launch the Airport Utility on your Mac and utilize the following directions. If you’re using a router from a different manufacturer, try for tutorials on your particular router make/model.

Once you have the Airport Utility opened, click Manual Setup, then click Advanced > Port Mapping. This is where you will be able to setup where incoming traffic for a particular port is routed to.

Now, it's time to set up the Web, FTP, and Jabber servers to work with the domain name service from DynDNS. Click the plus button (+) at the bottom of the window.

Under Service, choose Personal Web Sharing. Change the Private TCP Port to 8888 and make sure the Public TCP Port is 80. Port 8888 is the default port for MAMP, if you’ve changed it, you’ll need to put in the appropriate port number. Add the IP address you created for your Mac server to the Private IP Address Field. Click Continue and Done.


To set up FTP, click the plus button (+) again, choose FTP Access from the drop-down menu and add the IP address you created for your Mac server to the Private IP Address Field. Click Continue and Done. Your FTP is now configured.


To set up Jabber, click the plus button (+) again, select Jabber from the drop-down menu, and add the IP address you created for your Mac server to the Private IP Address Field. Click Continue and Done.

You should now see all of your configured services in the Airport Utility. To Save the settings, click the Update button in Airport Utility. The router will then restart and the settings will take effect.

You can now access your web server from anywhere in the world by firing up your web browser and typing in your DynDNS Address (i.e. Assuming you’ve configured everything correctly, your webpage will load from your newly built Mac home server. You can also use this address to access files from your favorite FTP client, and Jabber from iChat (just change your host name in Openfire). Remember that your Mac must remain on for you to have access to the services that it now provides.

So, there you have it, how to breathe life into your old Mac and make something useful.



Has the author even used OS X server?

I have to seriously wonder what level of research the author did for this article. It seems like he had a deadline and filled it with the biggest turd he could find.

Outlined are 4 functions that you can do with Snow Leopard (or Leopard for that matter) that you can also do with the Server version. Big deal...
Web server
File Sharing
Chat Server

What was not mentioned is the ability to run a DHCP server, DNS server, Mail server, and (*gasp*) central user management. Wow, can't do that with good 'ol Snow Leopard can ya? Have I mentioned central management of file shares and ACL permissions? There are many more things that OS X server can do in excess of the standard OS; far too many to list here.

Either this article was tossed together last minute or the author seriously mis-lead the readers with the title. Either way it is a waste of site space and an insult to the readers.

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MrE, why the hate?

I'm a new Mac user (less than a year), but I've been working w/computers (PC, Sun, and other proprietary systems) for 20 years. I still found this article interesting and informative. Everyone is not uber experienced w/Mac and insulted by this. As with any content, there are levels of information and writing.If you see an article that is overly simple or far below your expertise, then simply move on and read something else. The information is free, and I fail to see the need to contribute this visceral hate.Happy Holidays!

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A more complete $75 solution

For those interested in creating a full-blown server from the Snow Leopard client, check out Cutedge Systems.They provide a free LDAP server LDAP Enabler, MailServe - a Dovecot, Procmail, Postfix, and UW/IMAP mail server for $25, DNS ENabler - a $25 DNS server and WebMon - a $25 web server which includes WebDAV and iCal server functions and shares SSL certs with MailServe.
Take the Cutedge programs and combine them with the free Openfire chat server, the free iVPN VPN server, Apple's free Quicktime Broadcaster streaming media server and for $75 you have a very similar approximation of Apple's $499 OS X Server. A bit of Googling and an install of the free MacPorts unix program installer will likely reveal solutions for the remaining server functions such as ACL's and client management. They are certainly already there if you want to use the command-line.

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Very Interesting

Hi astromac,

Thanks for letting me know about Cutedge Systems. I haven't heard about them before, but what they provide sounds very interesting. Could definitely provide even more functionality to what we've already listed for basic server functions.

Thanks for your input!

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Free solution for mailserver

If you like the idea of having your Mac OS X Snow Leopard (or Leopard) client work as a mailserver for free and you want to learn how it all works try reading ll the instructions on It's a repository of free instructions and guidelines on how to install a web and mailserver with the same opensource software Apple uses for the server version on your desktop.

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How does this compare

This is great advise - for those with a spare intel mac lying round....

How would something like this compare as a website server compared to say server hosting from a traditional provider? Could it even be used as that or just as a home network?

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