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Christiaan

Anyone running a Mac Mini server?

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So our G5 server is giving us hell and I've either got to reinstall or we need to upgrade to new hardware and Snow Leopard Server.

Tight belts and all means we're actually considering a Mac Mini. Has anyone had any experience with the latest ones?

We're down to 5 workstations (4 local, 1 remote) plus a couple of admin machines. We'd be running all standard services (file server, calendar, ichat, mail, wiki, address book and vpn). We currently use 400 GB of space.

Is a Mac Mini going to be man enough?

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I would like to say you could but I have some doubts. When I set up 4 seats the comp consultant we hires set me up with a Mac Pro. You could run a stripped down version.

I will stay tuned to see what people think, this is a very good question for small firms.

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I'm not so sure about it either, but it does take 8GB RAM. I'd be concerned about overheating and how long it would last as a result.

Apple sales advised against it.

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I also would have reservations.

could you get a used/reconditioned Pro or iMac.

It dosn't need to be much.

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We don't run a lot of in house file serving, but I have been running MacMini Intel with Leopard Server for about 2 years and it has been fine. We run about 10 mail accounts and web sites and it has never been a problem.

For about the last 5 years I have been running a G4 Mac Mini as a server running Panther with Apache and Postfix turned on. It easily handles 500+ emails a day for about 20 accounts and hosts the PodCAD.tv and Vectortasks.com web sites.

If you are concerned, google mac mini colocation and look at all of the large hosting companies that are running Mac Minis.

I think you will be fine with a Mini. If it is not enough as you expand then you can move to a larger machine.

With 400GB of data I would recommend that you boot and run off of an external drive. That is what I did when I outgrew the internal drive. I also keep a second external drive (different brand) mirrored so I can quickly do a swap if there is a problem.

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We have one running in an office of 10 users.

It's a pretty basic setup:

It runs retrospect to backup files (over the network) to an external USB disk.

It shares a folder containing our admin files and archived projects.

My observation is this:

OSX Server is not as easy to setup as a regular copy of OSX.

The mac mini itself is very limited in hard disk space, which wouldn't be a problem if it had e-sata, but it doesn't, so it is.

Basically, I tried sharing a firewire connected disk - but it was geologically slow: 5GB transfer to the server would take over an hour. I switched to USB, but same problem. Now I only use the internal disks.

If you can get by with less than 1TB total disk space - split over two disks, then it's fine.

Turning on services other than file sharing slows things down quite noticeably.

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Turning on services other than file sharing slows things down quite noticeably.

Thanks Cal, this is a useful info. Which Mac Mini are you using?

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Guest jkelly

I think it'd be fine for everything but the file serving, although it might surprise you there and be fine, I'd say it'd largely depend on how much everyone is requesting files and how big they are.

Are you at all concerned about redundancy of drives? Setting up RAID for higher availability?

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I've got the current model mac mini server - the one with the built in power supply that looks like the Apple TV unit. We bought it because it was much better value than the sever software alone. We only needed the server software because apple cripple the standard OS to prevent more than 10 users being able to connect to the one computer.

We would have just got a NAS box, but my previous experience with the READYNAS was that it was too slow for users with large files.

If you have less than 10 connections to the computer, then plain vanilla OSX is just as good.

It's an unfortunate problem with the mac line up that the macs without built in monitors are pretty expensive for what you get and the other hardware isn't designed for any disk redundancy or ability to be upgraded.

I also found that most of the services offered on OSX server can actually be achieved better just by getting a decent Router with VPN.

However, it's all we need at the moment, looks very nice and is totally quiet.

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If you have less than 10 connections to the computer, then plain vanilla OSX is just as good.

Depends what you want. Apart from the other services one of the best things in our experience has been the Wiki Server. Nobody else has made a wiki this easy to use.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. In the end we had the following choices, if anyone is curious:

  • Mac Mini Server = ?1300 (with Applecare, RAM upgrades, etc.), not guaranteed to do what we need it to do.
  • Share Xserve with company we already share office with = ?1100 (to upgrade hard drives, RAM and OS)
  • Reinstall Leopard Server (and hope the errors aren't hardware related) = ?0

Last night I went with the 3rd option. I think I managed to sort out a longstanding problem with DNS too (which may have triggered the problem in the first place) by handing DNS off to our Airport Extreme router.

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A little advice for anyone running the disgrace that is Leopard Server: Time Machine does not backup your email (/var/spool).

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