Next up: FDCC for Macs

Army team begins work on core configuration for Apple computers<@VM>Another view: A reader responds

FOR ALL THE popularity the current crop of Apple computers have in the consumer and media markets, you still won't find many Macs on the job in government offices. But that could begin to change.

A team in the Army's chief information officer office that contributed to the development of the Federal Desktop Core Configuration for Microsoft's operating systems is in the early stages of developing a comparable configuration model for Apple Macs.

Although the number of Mac users in the Army ' estimated at 15,000 to 20,000 ' pales in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of PC users, those who do use Macs rely on them heavily to complete the Army's multimedia and publishing work.

And more employees likely would use Macs if they could.

The problem: Mac users must still turn to a second computer to conduct secure Army business, including e-mail messages. That's partly because Macs don't work with the Army's Microsoftbased Active Directory network and can't support mandatory Common Access Card authentication, among other requirements, said Amy Harding, director of the Integration and Plans Directorate in the Army's CIO office.

Given the time and effort it took to complete the FDCC for Microsoft's XP and Vista operating systems, it's not likely that a comparable configuration for Apple's Mac OS X Leopard operating system would be completed before the end of 2009. But the Army's interest in testing a standard Mac desktop configuration could make Macs more commonly available in the government.

'Within the next three years, we could have as many as 100,000 Macs on LandWarNet,' the Army's information network backbone, Harding said. 'The key is getting third-party developers to work for both Windows and Macs.'
Letter to the Editor

Your headline made me think the article titled "Next up: FDCC for Macs" was about NIST's creation of an FDCC image for OSX, however the majority of your article brings up the same old fear, uncertainty and doubt about Macs not being able to work within a Windows infrastructure'and that it's only the Mac's fault for not working. The only part of your article that was encouraging was your last paragraph about the possibility of many more Macs within the Army. As far as Macs not working with Microsoft's Active Directory environment, we made it work (with help from Apple).

As for outdated CAC cards, that's more a problem with the AD/Windows infrastructure not easily allowing non-Windows systems to participate. Your article puts the blame on Apple instead of the proprietary Windows environment and the unwillingness of Windows IT management to get it to work.

As for FDCC and SCAP, Apple has met the first step in creating valid SCAP schema by publishing security configuration guides for OSX 10.5 and someone besides the Army, I believe, is working on converting those configuration guides into SCAP content. Once this is done, then it can be used to create an FDCC-compliant image. The thing about OSX that separates it from XP/Vista is the fact that creating an FDCC image will be a whole lot easier simply because it doesn't contain a whole lot of different ways to do the same thing, all of which require specialized settings.

'A federal government employee and Mac user since 1987, who asked that his name and agency not be used because he is not authorized to speak for the agency.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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