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View Full Version : PowerMac G4/G5 as a file server?




njaremka
Aug 24, 2011, 03:37 PM
i have a 2010 MacBook Pro running 10.7 lion. will an older powermac g4/g5 running 10.5 work as a file server for my home network?



chrismacguy
Aug 24, 2011, 03:39 PM
It will easily work. I have a PowerMac G4/450 acting as one of my file servers on my home network (Files are provided to all my OS X Macs from my 2010 Mac Pro running Lion down to my PowerMac G3 running 10.3, and they all work fine). I would just get the cheapest G4 you can and fill it with drives. They make nice servers.

If your going to run Leopard I would get a MDD G4, as they hold 4 drives as standard, and support any IDE drives you can find (Older Macs only support drives up to 128GB - I believe all Graphite Models and some Quicksilvers have this limitation).

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 06:46 AM
cool, thanks. i just want something i can store pictures, music, and movies without cluttering my MBP. if i can load enough hard drive space into it, i might even consider it for time machine backups.

hwojtek
Aug 25, 2011, 08:39 AM
I run a total of 5 TB in my MDD including a 4TB RAID0, so you will be catered nicely.

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 08:48 AM
My G4 (see signature) is like a super file server and also handles my torrents and many other functions or things I really need to run 24/7 because I sleep my MacBook when it's not in use. It's even my gaming machine because I still play a lot of PowerPC games from the 1998-2005 era.

Intel or PowerPC CPU is totally irrelevant when it comes to file sharing. A G4 tower and SATA PCI card together are a much better option than a G5. Even a G3 has all the CPU power you need to serve files. A G5 tower will use up to 3x the power a G4 does.

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 10:19 AM
for that matter, i could go with a first gen mac mini, too, right? then i could get an external firewire raid set-up for it. thoughts on that?

as for specs, as long as whatever i get has an ethernet connection, and sata hard drive connections, i should be fine, right? processor speed and ram won't matter too much, will they?

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 10:25 AM
for that matter, i could go with a first gen mac mini, too, right? then i could get an external firewire raid set-up for it. thoughts on that?

as for specs, as long as whatever i get has an ethernet connection, and sata hard drive connections, i should be fine, right? processor speed and ram won't matter too much, will they?

Files need longevity and therefore a file server should be on reliable hardware. The G4 mini's although newer than all the G4 towers won't have near the longevity of a G4 tower. I have seen several G4 mini's die over the last 2-3 years.

With a tower you also don't have to spend extra on HD enclosures. You can get bare 2TB drives now for 60-70.

A file server is just a dumb box so CPU speed is almost irrelevant. The slowest/cheapest G4 AGP tower you can find would be plenty CPU power. Just combine that with GB ethernet which all but 1 of the AGP towers have already and a SATA card.

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 10:45 AM
good point. i guess the added size of the tower outweighs the added complexity of a mac mini setup.

what about the rest of the specs? should i just look for a tower that has sata hard drive connections and an ethernet port?

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 10:53 AM
good point. i guess the added size of the tower outweighs the added complexity of a mac mini setup.

what about the rest of the specs? should i just look for a tower that has sata hard drive connections and an ethernet port?

No G4 tower has SATA unless you happen to buy one that someone has already added a PCI SATA card to. So you need a G4 tower + SATA PCI card. Those cards can be as low as 70 and as high as 200+. You would be fine with the $70 card.

The FirmTek 1S2 is the cheaper one and the same one I use in my G4. You can also get a 4 drive model for another 40 or so I think.

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 11:24 AM
thanks again for the help. you've given me a good guide for what to look for ;)

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 11:48 AM
thanks again for the help. you've given me a good guide for what to look for ;)

No problem.

These are your 2 SATA card options:

2 drive card - http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-1s2/

4 drive card - http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/seritek-1v4/

Both will work in any G4 tower. There are actually easy ways to fit up to 7 HD's in the pre-MDD towers. An MDD can only reach 6 max. and has the least reliable PSU of them all. You don't even need the extra performance you're paying for.

The Sawtooth is the most reliable model by far but lacks GB ethernet. The advantage though is you can get a Sawtooth for 30-60 vs. 120+ for even the slowest MDD and then buy a $12-15 PCI GB ethernet card. These have 3 PCI slots so you would still have a free one to put a USB 2 or 3 card in it for extra expandability once you need more than 7 drives internally. You would need 2x of the 4 drive cards for 7 internal drives though. You could then use the 8th drive connector for external eSATA.

End result is a G4 server capable of holding 14TB internally.

Edit:

To add to everything I have said so far you don't even need a screen for it. You can easily run a file server headless with built-in software right in OS 10.5+ to control the tower remotely. You don't even need a remote connection to just share files though. Only if you wanted to launch an app on the G4 or change a preference etc.

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 12:28 PM
excuse my ignorance, but what is "MDD" stand for? and which models are "Sawtooth"?

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 12:42 PM
excuse my ignorance, but what is "MDD" stand for? and which models are "Sawtooth"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Mac_G4

njaremka
Aug 25, 2011, 02:17 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Mac_G4

lol, thanks, that helped a ton.

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 03:05 PM
lol, thanks, that helped a ton.

Wiki is my best friend :)

Here (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1102097&highlight=) is a thread I started a while back on exactly what GB ethernet PCI card will work in Macs with built in drivers already in 10.5.2+. GB ethernet file sharing makes remote drives perform like local ones. It's great.

Even if you end up getting one with built in GB it's great to have 2 ethernet ports on a file server because then you can also you it as a firewall among endless other possibilities.

vohdoun
Aug 25, 2011, 03:32 PM
Sawtooth - 1.8 GHz G4 7448 - 2 GB RAM - 5 TB Storage - 10.5.8 - Painted (http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4063/4682572966_f422534a6c_b.jpg)

Mmmm sleek! Anymore shots?

zen.state
Aug 25, 2011, 03:43 PM
Mmmm sleek! Anymore shots?

Sorry no but I do have larger individual pics of the 3 in the collage I made for my sig.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen_state/2871063703/in/photostream/lightbox/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen_state/2809405163/in/photostream/lightbox/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen_state/2789911964/in/photostream/lightbox/

If you have anymore questions though please message me or whatever so we don't take over this thread.

alexreich
Sep 14, 2011, 01:34 PM
My personal home server is a 1998 400MHz PowerMac G4. I found it on craigslist for $30. I upgraded the SDRAM to 1GB (I had the sticks laying around), then put in a new GFX Card, and added a 2-port SATAII Controller.

I have a 80GB IDE 7200rpm boot drive, 40GB IDE 5400rpm backup (to backup boot drive), and a 1.5TB Caviar Green HD for media/data.

It's a pretty great FTP server.

zen.state
Sep 14, 2011, 01:56 PM
1998 G4? The first G4 wasn't till late 1999.

alexreich
Sep 14, 2011, 02:16 PM
My bad. My year might be/probably is wrong. I wasn't into the Macintosh platform at that time period.

zen.state
Sep 14, 2011, 02:38 PM
My bad. My year might be/probably is wrong. I wasn't into the Macintosh platform at that time period.

If it's a Sawtooth like your signature says then it would have been built around Dec. 1999 - Mar. 2000.

disconap
Sep 14, 2011, 07:46 PM
(Older Macs only support drives up to 128GB - I believe all Graphite Models and some Quicksilvers have this limitation).

This is true but is a mobo limitation. If you're using SATA drives you're fine, as any PCI card you get will be able to handle standard sized drives (can't confirm above 1TB as I've never bothered, my G4 is now decomissioned/saved for the rare OS9 needs, but I know the PCI card in my G5 handles large drives both through SATA and eSATA).

G4s are great for servers! But if you're buying, you might want to put together a cheap Atom solution and install Ubuntu on it; the electricity difference will be worth it in the long run...

InuNacho
Sep 16, 2011, 11:30 PM
The noise coming off of G4s is also something to keep in mind. I had temporarily turned my Sawtooth into a server but couldn't stand hearing the drives constantly accessing and the fans 24/7 so back to OS 9 game machine it went.

zen.state
Sep 16, 2011, 11:40 PM
The noise coming off of G4s is also something to keep in mind. I had temporarily turned my Sawtooth into a server but couldn't stand hearing the drives constantly accessing and the fans 24/7 so back to OS 9 game machine it went.

Sorry but any true geek loves the sounds computers make. It's all part of the experience. Any pre-MDD G4 tower is whisper quiet compared to an MDD.

Also, how in the world is Apple or their G4 tower at fault for how loud the HD is? They don't make the drive..

Why not put it in another room if the noise bothers you that much. All a file server needs is an ethernet cable and space for it to sit. It certainly doesn't need a monitor or to be in the same room as your main computer.

burnout8488
Sep 17, 2011, 01:25 AM
Upvoted because you stood up for a G4 - it takes a REAL geek to do that:)

I'd love to get my hands on a G4 tower to do exactly what you guys are doing. Never owned one before, it's about time.

VanneDC
Sep 17, 2011, 02:43 AM
I just sold one, i wont be buying a MDD again... too slow and too noisy.. and cost an arm and a leg if you wanna max it out in specs...

David-fr
Nov 27, 2011, 01:40 AM
Hello all,

I am about to buy a dual core powermac g5 for a file/media server. My needs will be to access large video files to edit in FCP and keep big files off my MBP. But I also want to stream movies and photos to my PS3. Lastly, I'd like to have running a torrent client 24/7 and to be able to manage it from my MBP as the G5 would be hidden in the closet with no screen.

I tried the GoFlex Home NAS but it is a joke. Any tips or recommendations for me? Software to stream or anything you'd like to add its welcome.

Cheers,
David V.

apunkrockmonk
Nov 27, 2011, 02:00 AM
Hello all,

I am about to buy a dual core powermac g5 for a file/media server. My needs will be to access large video files to edit in FCP and keep big files off my MBP. But I also want to stream movies and photos to my PS3. Lastly, I'd like to have running a torrent client 24/7 and to be able to manage it from my MBP as the G5 would be hidden in the closet with no screen.

I tried the GoFlex Home NAS but it is a joke. Any tips or recommendations for me? Software to stream or anything you'd like to add its welcome.

Cheers,
David V.


I use a Hackintosh for mainly the same purposes (substitute an Apple TV for the PS3).

For torrents just use transmission, it has a built in web interface that is great to access from any computer or even from your phone on wifi or 3G.

You can even upload torrent files via copy and pasting the URL into the web interface on your phone... very slick.

Nameci
Nov 27, 2011, 02:01 AM
For A file server a G4 would be enough. Some powermac G4's have 4 drive bays native while the powermac G5 has only two.

David-fr
Nov 27, 2011, 02:05 AM
For A file server a G4 would be enough. Some powermac G4's have 4 drive bays native while the powermac G5 has only two.

Hard to pass on this deal, great shape G5 for 150 dlls :D

I assume OS X can stream files in the correct codec to the PS3 right?

AdrianK
Nov 27, 2011, 02:56 AM
I assume OS X can stream files in the correct codec to the PS3 right?

Yes, if it's encoded in a compatible codec inside a compatible container to begin with. Otherwise you'd need to re-encode the file, which would take a lot of processing power.

apunkrockmonk
Nov 27, 2011, 03:00 AM
Hard to pass on this deal, great shape G5 for 150 dlls :D

I assume OS X can stream files in the correct codec to the PS3 right?

I'm pretty sure you'll be needing an app to stream to your PS3.

thorns
Nov 27, 2011, 05:03 AM
I wouldn't use a G5 as a file server. Its expandability is limited and it sucks way too much power.

jbsmithmac
Nov 28, 2011, 08:18 PM
I've posted here a few times about what to do with my old G4 and many of you have replied with very helpful comments. So first - thank you.

That said I have given more thought to what I want to do with my G4 and have more detailed specs/questions for you to weigh in on.

I using a G4 MDD dual 867Mhz with the max 2GB of ram.

I plan on doing a fresh install of OSX 10.4 tiger to make it a file server mainly for serving and storing large photos - photoshop files to my MBP along with the jpg's. I have a couple questions in regards to the best way to set this up to maximize it for speed and performance in regards to the drives etc - not wanting to upgrade CPU, etc. This will be in my home.

Questions:
1) This is going to be a quasi-production environment, so I'll be using the mirrored raid setup within OSX. Would I be better served to use two 2-port sata cards or just one 4-port?

2) Based on reading I should stick to the Firmtek cards? Any other options that don't cost an arm and a leg for marginal improvements?

3) It will be wired to my Gigabit router (the MBP will be connecting via 802.11N on the 5Ghz channel) - However I plan on it being quite a distance away - roughly 100ft. Will this distance cause a problem with transfer speeds (~50mb files)?

4) I plan on leaving it in the garage where temps run from 15F to 110F - will this kill it? Should be little to no condensation. I've asked this here before and got mixed answers...so still unsure on this.

5) Server grade HDD's or regular desktop? I've also read that buying server grade drives is best for a server of this type. Is this necessary? I'll probably schedule the server to shutdown at 11pm and startup at 7am daily. Drive recommendations are welcome and needed - 1TB or greater (haven't fully decided on total TB's yet).


I think that is it - thanks all!!

AmanO
Dec 6, 2011, 02:21 PM
Apple is at fault for not sound deadening their case enough and possibly using OEM drives that are loud. Especially for how much they would have "charged" for said drives.

My question is what is the best X version for a server? I could not get windows shared drives to mount in Tiger. I cannot get Leopard on my 777 QS without trickery, my pata card does nto work with newer Xs and my SATA cards do not work with older ones.............not sure what to do.

apunkrockmonk
Dec 9, 2011, 04:18 PM
I've posted here a few times about what to do with my old G4 and many of you have replied with very helpful comments. So first - thank you.

That said I have given more thought to what I want to do with my G4 and have more detailed specs/questions for you to weigh in on.

I using a G4 MDD dual 867Mhz with the max 2GB of ram.

I plan on doing a fresh install of OSX 10.4 tiger to make it a file server mainly for serving and storing large photos - photoshop files to my MBP along with the jpg's. I have a couple questions in regards to the best way to set this up to maximize it for speed and performance in regards to the drives etc - not wanting to upgrade CPU, etc. This will be in my home.

Questions:
1) This is going to be a quasi-production environment, so I'll be using the mirrored raid setup within OSX. Would I be better served to use two 2-port sata cards or just one 4-port?

2) Based on reading I should stick to the Firmtek cards? Any other options that don't cost an arm and a leg for marginal improvements?

3) It will be wired to my Gigabit router (the MBP will be connecting via 802.11N on the 5Ghz channel) - However I plan on it being quite a distance away - roughly 100ft. Will this distance cause a problem with transfer speeds (~50mb files)?

4) I plan on leaving it in the garage where temps run from 15F to 110F - will this kill it? Should be little to no condensation. I've asked this here before and got mixed answers...so still unsure on this.

5) Server grade HDD's or regular desktop? I've also read that buying server grade drives is best for a server of this type. Is this necessary? I'll probably schedule the server to shutdown at 11pm and startup at 7am daily. Drive recommendations are welcome and needed - 1TB or greater (haven't fully decided on total TB's yet).


I think that is it - thanks all!!

I can only answer one of your questions.

I don't think any computer will survive for too long in an environment where it's 15 degrees and the computer is being turned on and off.

If you were to leave it on 24/7 and maybe put it inside a small cabinet during the winter it's exhaust could keep the cabinet closer to normal operating temperatures.

You'd probably need to have the machine indoors for it to be room temp before bringing it out to the cabinet to boot it.

But as far as I know starting a machine that's that cold wouldn't be a good idea.

Also I wouldn't be surprised if the hard drives had trouble operating normally at temperatures that low.

jbsmithmac
Dec 9, 2011, 04:54 PM
I now plan on keeping it running 24/7.

I need to see what the actual temps will be in the garage. It's going down to 20 this weekend.

Negritude
Dec 11, 2011, 02:32 AM
...Older Macs only support drives up to 128GB - I believe all Graphite Models and some Quicksilvers have this limitation).

The Quicksilver 2002 and newer have LBA support, so they can handle large drives without the need to buy a controller.

AmanO
Dec 11, 2011, 11:07 PM
FYI there is a SW solution to the large drive limitation. I will have to look up what it is called but I was running it in a >2002 Quicksilver.

Lancer
Dec 14, 2011, 12:24 AM
I've had Mac's for years, the family started with a Mac Plus and my mum just picked up a MBP 15 inch with Lion.

But a few years back I needed a PC for programing at school, so over time I turned it into a server. New with my current PC I have 160Gb for the C drive, with 1Tb & 2Tb drives for my media files, with space for a 3rd when prices come back down.

I've explored using older Mac's but found they are limited in connection options without adding cards and the MacPro is just too expensive, even is they can hold 4 SATA HDDs. For the money it's cheaper to get a NAS, which would use far less power.

The PC offers more for less IMO plus it gives me the flexibility to run PC software natively if there is no Mac option.

ETA - actually I do have a couple of questions about turning my G5 into a file server.

1) Do I need the server version of OSX to turn my G5 into a server?
2) How do I set up remote access to control the G5 so I don't need a monitor.
3) Will the G5 work with newer 3Tb drives to maximize the storage?

hwojtek
Dec 17, 2011, 10:05 AM
1) Do I need the server version of OSX to turn my G5 into a server?

No, just enable file sharing in System Preferences.

2) How do I set up remote access to control the G5 so I don't need a monitor.

Enable screen sharing in System Preferences.

3) Will the G5 work with newer 3Tb drives to maximize the storage?

Yes.