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View Full Version : PowerMac G5 as a server? Good idea?




alexreich
Jul 16, 2011, 06:50 PM
I have my Mac Mini (mid-2010) exactly the way I want it. Everything is perfect. But ever since I upgraded to an SSD (60GB), I don't have room for all my media on my machine.

Currently my iTunes library is on a 1TB OWC Drive (plugged in via USB), and I really hate having to mess with the external storage to play music, or stream videos to my AppleTV. If I want to use anything on the drive I have to reach through my desk to power it on, mount it, use it (for whatever), eject it, then power it off once I'm done with it to save overall life of the drive. I know laziness is a bad feature, but I possess it. I also have the issue of not all the Macs in my house having the same library.

I would like to have my iTunes library on a dedicated (iTunes Home Sharing) server machine in my home. I would also like to have a dedicated drive on the server for Time Machine backups as well. That way, everyone on my network can access the same library AND backup their machine from any computer or laptop in my home. I also wouldn't have to worry about this external crap all the time, and I would use the the OWC 1TB drive to back up my iTunes library weekly to ensure I wouldn't lose my library if something failed.

I see G5 PowerMacs on craigslist for $200-250, and I would love to use one for this, but I have a few questions.

So my questions about the G5 are:

How many drive slots does it have (and what size are they)?

What is the maximum size of hard drive the computer can read (running Leopard if that affects anything)?

It has SATA revision II right?


My other consideration is to buy a cheap machine with 3 hard drive slots to do the following:

Drive setup:
#1 Operating System (don't necessarily need a large amount of GB)
#2 iTunes Library (1-2TB)
#3 Time Machine backup volume (1-2TB)

Is there a cheap PC I could use to do the tasks mentioned above? If so, please link me to it.



adcx64
Jul 16, 2011, 07:16 PM
1. The G5 has 2 hard disk bays

2. I dont think there is a limit on drive size, correct me if i'm wrong.

3. All G5 models use SATA 1. SATA II drives will work natively and SATA III drives will work with jumper configurations set to SATA II.

Hope it helps!

OrangeSVTguy
Jul 16, 2011, 08:12 PM
You're better off getting a PowerMac G4 and installing a SATAII PCI card if you want to use it as a server. You'll be able to load the sucker up with 4+ HDDs.

Nameci
Jul 16, 2011, 08:14 PM
PowerMac G4 1.42GHz Dual Processor is the fastest stock tower PPC G4.

zen.state
Jul 16, 2011, 08:16 PM
If it's just to serve files then I recommend saving money and getting a G4 tower and PCI SATA card. I know easy ways to fit at least 7 drives in the G4 towers also.

It's safe to say the G5 is the least stable tower ever from Apple. Any G4 although older will live longer, fit a lot more drives and use less power.

zen.state
Jul 16, 2011, 08:17 PM
PowerMac G4 1.42GHz Dual Processor is the fastest stock tower PPC G4.

Fastest is totally irrelevant for file serving. A 400MHz Sawtooth with a SATA card would do just as well in the same role.

Nameci
Jul 16, 2011, 08:24 PM
Guess so, I am just stating it... zen... cool down man.

chrismacguy
Jul 16, 2011, 08:30 PM
Guess so, I am just stating it... zen... cool down man.

See, if he was really angry he would suggest a Apple Network Server 700 with a G3 and a SATA Upgrade....

To the OP: Do not attempt the above. I second the advice to get a G4. I have several XServe G4s serving Files within my studio, and I wouldnt use anything more powerful. Even my G4/450 Tower can push HD Video out as a file (It cant play it, but as it has SATA and a Gigabit Ethernet card, it can access it and stuff it down the network Pipe to my editing stations - And as far as storage goes One Day I will get 12TB in a G4. Cant be that long now *waits for 3TB Drives to get cheap*, but Ive definitely seen a PowerMac G4 with 4TB Internally (4*1TB Drives in a MDD with 2 SATA II Cards - Not mine, but a clients, it worked surprisingly well, although I have no idea how they managed the wiring.).

zen.state
Jul 16, 2011, 08:49 PM
Guess so, I am just stating it... zen... cool down man.

Cool down? Oh my.. What did I possibly say that makes me seem non-cool/chill?

I simply just clearly stated that CPU is not important at all on a pure file server. It's just a dumb box at that point. Even a G4 400 is more than it needs.

Nameci
Jul 16, 2011, 08:51 PM
It seems to me that you're a bit agitated with what I have stated. No offense man just trying to lighten you up a bit... :D

zen.state
Jul 16, 2011, 09:21 PM
It seems to me that you're a bit agitated with what I have stated. No offense man just trying to lighten you up a bit... :D

Not at all. I just wanted the OP to know most of all that CPU speed doesn't matter in this role.

To the OP:

Also add a cheap gigabit ethernet (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1102097&highlight=) solution if you happen to go the G4 route and get a Sawtooth by chance. The rest all have built in gigabit.

You don't even need a gigabit ethernet router to enjoy gigabit speeds. I have a 10/100 router but both my Macs are directly connected by gigabit. My G4 is connected to the router for net access with the built in 100mbit then I have the above PCI card installed and my MacBook is directly connected via Cat5e and I get up to about 48MB/sec. Normally never lower than 32MB. Cat 6 would be even faster.

If you did like I have it explained above you are then behind 2 firewalls. The router and then the G4 which shares its internet with my MacBook.

Also, if it's just a file server remove the video card so you have more power for drives and run it headless. You can then very easily remote into it with ScreenSharing on your main Mac.

alexreich
Jul 16, 2011, 09:25 PM
I have a 500MHz iMac G3 just sitting around the house that runs Tiger, could I get anywhere with that machine as a server?

BTW: Play nice guys. Haha. We're all trying to help eachother!

Thanks for all the quick feedback.

Would anyone be interested in telling the costs of all these PowerMac G4 mods/add-ons?

EDIT: Just looked at the PCI SATA cards... Is this one good? It looks fantastic in writing?

Amazon URL: http://www.amazon.com/Vantec-6-Port-SATA-Host-Card/dp/tech-data/B002PX9BX2/ref=de_a_smtd

cocacolakid
Jul 16, 2011, 11:15 PM
Pretty sure it has to be a Mac compatible SATA PCI card, which of course will be more expensive. Macsales.com (aka OWC) carries one for $72.

Zen.State or one of the other guys can better answer your question. Don't buy one until you get a definitive answer.

alexreich
Jul 16, 2011, 11:32 PM
I'm looking at the site now... :D

Edit 1: Looks like it only performs at 1.5Gb/s....? How's that gonna perform when streaming media?

chrismacguy
Jul 17, 2011, 04:05 AM
I'm looking at the site now... :D

Edit 1: Looks like it only performs at 1.5Gb/s....? How's that gonna perform when streaming media?

That will be absolutely fine. Not only can current drives barely saturate that connection (Excluding SSDs), but your network will run at nowhere near that speed.

sirozzy
Jul 17, 2011, 06:26 AM
Hi there,

I'm just configuring for one of my friends a PowerMac G5 running MacOSX Server with 2 x 2TB hard drives. Setting up everything as raid 1 for security reasons. I think if you can afford 2 2TB hard drives you don't need more physical hard drives.
There is no limit with space in G5. (i mean reasonable limits. There is one like 19EB which is exabite. We have to wait for that big hard drives a couple of years yet i suppose ;)).

zen.state
Jul 17, 2011, 07:41 AM
I'm looking at the site now... :D

Edit 1: Looks like it only performs at 1.5Gb/s....? How's that gonna perform when streaming media?

It would only go anywhere near top speed when you transfer files from Mac to Mac. When you're playing video or audio it will use maybe 1/200 of the drive speed. Even full 1080p video is only about 1MB/sec (8000kbps) and modern SATA drives even on a SATA 1 bus get 100MB/sec+ easily.

Even the 2.5" WD Black I have running on my MacBook's SATA 1 can easily sustain about 126MB/sec.

As for SATA cards.. I highly recommend any of the FirmTek cards. The Sonnet SATA cards are made by them also. Because it will be on 33mhz PCI you can only expect 70-80MB/sec but thats still 80x more than you need to serve even HD video.

bizzle
Jul 17, 2011, 09:31 AM
I'd just buy a multi drive enclosure or NAS set up because the amount of power that a G5 uses will end up costing you a lot more in the long run and they're loud and make a ton of heat.

Nameci
Jul 17, 2011, 09:57 AM
Loud for a G5? You must be dreaming.

cocacolakid
Jul 17, 2011, 11:59 AM
I'd just buy a multi drive enclosure or NAS set up because the amount of power that a G5 uses will end up costing you a lot more in the long run and they're loud and make a ton of heat.

I agree the electricity a G5 would use running all the time would be overkill, but as zen.state posted, a G4 would work just fine and can be had dirt cheap, hence the OP's looking for info on a SATA PCI card.

I picked up a 400mhz Gigabyte Ethernet G4 for free a few weeks ago, but any G4 Mac that is under 1ghz is absolutely dirt cheap, at least on my local Craigslist. I watch CL regularly and $40-$50 for a 400mhz or up to an 867mhz G4 are regularly in that range (other than the occasional person asking for $300 :) ). Most people don't realize there is still value in those machines. Depending on where the OP lives, eBay often has similar G4's for $40-60 or so shipped.

cocacolakid
Jul 17, 2011, 12:14 PM
I've got a question, this thread has me thinking about using my GE G4 as a server. Does the OS version make any difference when we are talking about a Mac server? The GE G4 is running Tiger. My other Macs are on Leopard and Snow Leopard, with the mini going to be eventually upgraded to Lion.

What if the OP decided to use his G3 iMac, which might be running something before Tiger, would that work for him?

I'll hang up and listen to your answer :)

bizzle
Jul 17, 2011, 01:17 PM
I agree the electricity a G5 would use running all the time would be overkill, but as zen.state posted, a G4 would work just fine and can be had dirt cheap, hence the OP's looking for info on a SATA PCI card.

I picked up a 400mhz Gigabyte Ethernet G4 for free a few weeks ago, but any G4 Mac that is under 1ghz is absolutely dirt cheap, at least on my local Craigslist. I watch CL regularly and $40-$50 for a 400mhz or up to an 867mhz G4 are regularly in that range (other than the occasional person asking for $300 :) ). Most people don't realize there is still value in those machines. Depending on where the OP lives, eBay often has similar G4's for $40-60 or so shipped.
A G4 is not as bad as a G5 in terms of power but still a lot of power, they aren't exactly energy efficient.

cocacolakid
Jul 17, 2011, 01:31 PM
A G4 is not as bad as a G5 in terms of power but still a lot of power, they aren't exactly energy efficient.

Not like a mini, no.

raysfan81
Jul 19, 2011, 11:29 AM
A G4 is not as bad as a G5 in terms of power but still a lot of power, they aren't exactly energy efficient.

Yeah but the mini doesn't have any room for internal storage upgrades like the G4 and G5 does. But if I were to make an always on file server I would definitely choose the G4 because the G5 is incredibly power hungry.

Paulywauly
Jul 19, 2011, 11:58 AM
I'd go for the G4 by far.

- much cheaper to purchase
- judging by reading these forums they seem to be less likely to break down
- cheaper upgrades and parts
- less electricity usage

alexreich
Aug 7, 2011, 10:44 PM
After a long slow hold out (waiting for a cheap one to pop up), I've purchased a Sawtooth PowerMac G4 I found on craigslist for $30!

It came with:
400MHz G4 Processor
256MB RAM (soon to be upgraded)
80GB 7200rpm IDE HD

I'm still looking to use this thing as a File Server, so here are the changes/adjustments I am going to attempt to make in checklist form:

Install all updates in Software Update (to run 10.4.11) [Check]

Install the maximum amount of RAM (2GB) [ordering RAM soon]

Add 3-4 3.5" HDD's (and maybe 1 SSD for fast boot because I'm impatient) [after paycheck ]

Install a PCI SATA card to add more hard drives [CHECK]

Run a Ethernet cable from my office into a Gigabit Ethernet switch in the closet in my room [this weekend]

Make the server Desktop Remotely Accessible [CHECK]


Enable file sharing (for iTunes and Time Machine) [CHECK/Need another drive for TM]

Known/Current Issues:

My 250GB IDE HD is only seen as 127.81GB?
I know I've read about this issue before, what do I need to do to fix it? Is it even possible to fix?

Des Zac
Aug 7, 2011, 10:48 PM
So it's a G4 not a G5?

alexreich
Aug 7, 2011, 10:51 PM
Yep it's a "Sawtooth" AGP Graphics PowerMac G4.

MacSince1990
Aug 8, 2011, 10:34 AM
If I want to use anything on the drive I have to reach through my desk to power it on, mount it, use it (for whatever), eject it, then power it off once I'm done with it to save overall life of the drive.

Keeping drives running is actually not what harms the drives.... what kills a drive is the number of starts and stops.... basically spin-ups put a lot of stress on the drive, and the fewer you have,the better... if you want to save the drive's life, keep it ON, and don't let it spin down.

As has been mentioned G5s sadly use SATA-I. And any SATA-II or III drive MUST be jumpered (on WD drives, for example, the 5-6 pin must be shorted), or it won't even see the drive.

A G4 might be a better bet, as people have pointed out... they can take at least 4 HDDs, without expensive add-ons (well, okay... technically you'd need to buy $99+ SATA cards to use SATA drives... but for more than 2 drives on a G5 you'd need to buy an SATA card AND an expansion toolset which lets you use more drives...)

Also, no, that PCI card you listed won't work, it's PC-Only. You want to find one from OWC or Sonnet (www.sonnettech.com). They are unfortunately expensive.

Edit: To fix your 128 GB limit, you'd need to purchase an PCI ATA card. That'll allow you to address more than 128 GB, and would also give you more headroom for drives.... ATA/100 or 133 will let you run a lot faster than the ATA/66 on board, esp. if you're splitting between four drives.

hwojtek
Aug 9, 2011, 09:45 AM
+1 for the G4. I run a 4TB RAID in mine, working as a fileserver.
Also, no, that PCI card you listed won't work, it's PC-Only. You want to find one from OWC or Sonnet (www.sonnettech.com). They are unfortunately expensive.
There is an easy way of turning generic PCI 2-port SATA controller into a Mac-compatible one.
http://www.hiit.pl/Allegro/Opisy/FE6704F5-248B-42EA-B3CF-4040712E84FC.JPEG
If the controller runs Silicon Image's SiL 3512 chipset (http://www.siliconimage.com/products/product.aspx?id=29) in most cases it can be force-flashed with WiebeTech's Mac firmware (http://www.wiebetech.com/webtech.php?sfid=133&pcode=TC-PCI). I've had some trouble with flashing the card on the Mac, so I ended up in putting the card into a PC and flashing the Mac firmware from DOS.
I did it with two of them and they both work without any issues, one card having an uninterrupted uptime of more than 3 months now.
They do not boot, however, and also they do not show up in SATA section of System Profiler, but appear as two more IDE channels instead - otherwise no problems, just set up a RAID with the Disk Utility and you're clear to go.

csiguy
Aug 9, 2011, 11:55 AM
As has been mentioned G5s sadly use SATA-I. And any SATA-II or III drive MUST be jumpered (on WD drives, for example, the 5-6 pin must be shorted), or it won't even see the drive.

Just to note that this is not true for G5s/some G5s.
SATA 2.0 is backward compatible with SATA 1.0, and SATA 3.0 is also the same SATA interface. Jumpering is required only if there are negotiation interoperability issues, which will typically only affect SATA 3.0 drives on SATA 1.0 interfaces. Whether you have to jumper depends on your Mac and the SATA drive in question.
I have used numerous SATA 2.0 drives in Power Mac G5's without having to set any jumper.

JamesCCook
Sep 10, 2012, 10:20 PM
Guess so, I am just stating it... zen... cool down man.
I agree with this man with the beautiful icon, Nameci. Zen and everybody else stop bashing G5's when a person asks how to maximize its potential, please stop telling them to buy other computers. Obviously, there are people who like to make the most of what they have available.

Intell
Sep 10, 2012, 10:33 PM
Why did you feel the need to revive a year old thread with a comment that isn't on the thread's topic?

orestes1984
Sep 11, 2012, 08:58 AM
I have used numerous SATA 2.0 drives in Power Mac G5's without having to set any jumper.

I have a G5 Xserve 2005 model with a SATA 3 drive in it, I didn't need to set any jumpers.

Damn it! posting in a year old thread...

papoopeepoo
Sep 11, 2012, 04:37 PM
I'll partake in this thread's resurrection.

I run a late 05 G5 as my home's file/itunes server. It has about 12TB in total attached and built in. It uses roughly 150W @ 120V at any given time. It's a monster. It does everything I need it to do without blinking, but if you're in a small area, I would go with the G4 because the G5 fans can get LOUD!

GermanyChris
Sep 11, 2012, 04:46 PM
I have a G5 Xserve 2005 model with a SATA 3 drive in it, I didn't need to set any jumpers.

Damn it! posting in a year old thread...

Me too, both platter and SSD.