Advice/help modernizing Mac environment!

New Contributor


I am looking for some advice/help on our student environment... we have approximately 200 Macs on a primarily Windows network. We have had the "golden triangle" for a while but we need updating... We also do not have any tools like JAMF...

We are trying to get to a situation whereby certain preferences are sync'd so users can move between Mac's, their network home directory is mounted so they can save work there and see their quota limit... yet essentially use a AD authenticated account with local home folder for the following reasons:

All caches get stored locally (Stay out of home directory quota and faster running on local machine than across disk)
Some applications are either unsupported or do seem not to run with networked home directories
Using the Mac to automatically mount a user's home directory mounts at the root of the share and not the user's actual directory, which means that the users are unaware of their quota limitations

In previous years we have alternated between:

Using pure SMB home folders mounted by default Mac AD plugin

This is where we started and ironically are now again in full circle due to complications of other solutions and the fact we are now on later versions of Mac OS and have not installed Profile Manager

This is simple to set up from an admin point of view, but we have struggled with home directory quotas being taken up with application caches etc. performance across network etc.

Customised redirection via symlinks through loginscripts

This worked well when we had WGM and 10.6 -> 10.8, however even then certain applications had issues following symlinks (Adobe)

We currently have not updated to Profile Manager which I know is our next task in order to get functionality back with El Capitan etc.

Apple Home/Preference Sync

We have not tried this one too aggressively because we did not like the idea of Mobile accounts but it does seem like a valid option - just using the preference section however... however I can see from online research that this seems quite unreliable.

Reading this site I can see others have attempted various things, like Unison, Rsync etc... and I am just wondering how people have got on with them for this particular task?


New Contributor II

LabWarden supports linking home directories, syncing specific files/folders, restricting application use etc...

It lets you apply Mac policies to users and workstations via Active Directory group membership. Configs are stored directly within AD without extending the schema.

There's probably a few other freebies around... although free means use at your own risk.