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US Army IT continues to diversify via the Mac


The relative security merits of Mac OS and Windows are not a surprise to military technologists -- back in 1999, the website was moved to Mac OS 9 and Webstar to deter hacker attacks on the previous Windows NT-based servers, and the site remains hosted on Mac OS X and XServes today, still running Webstar (now published by Kerio) rather than the open-source Apache server. Deployments to desktops, however, have not necessarily tracked the back-office adoption of Macs in the military, despite official recognition that there's risk in a one-platform-fits-all approach.

Today's Forbes article on Army adoption of the Mac, while partly old news (the original initiative to create a more heterogeneous and secure computing environment dates to 2005), does note that the Army plans to roll out Thursby Software's CAC bundle early next year, to enable full Mac compatibility with Common Access Card security controls. This isn't the first try at a CAC implementation on Mac OS X (Apple's included some of the needed pieces, and the Navy published a thorough PDF guide to getting them working in Tiger) but it promises to be the most comprehensive and well-supported.

One new Leopard feature that may well prove essential to Army use of Mac OS X, which went unremarked in the Forbes story: POSIX compliance. Now that Mac OS X really, truly is UNIX, it could begin to replace HP and Solaris deployments in some military roles.

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