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Old Nov 8, 2012, 03:24 AM   #1
octacon
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Home server

hi all. im contemplating on getting a mac mini server for home and educational use. my problem is that im not sure if ill need the the actual server version or just the plain jane version to run server. i plan on using all the features i could use for home use, but will only have 2 clients connected to it for the most part, my macbook pro and my wifes macbook. id rather buy a new one when tax season comes around, but ill consider a older one if the price is right. what do you all think?

Last edited by octacon; Nov 8, 2012 at 03:27 AM. Reason: typos
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 04:19 AM   #2
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I have used the server for home use and I didn't like it. It was too much hassel trying to get it set up correctly... I will admit it could have been user error. But if your just looking to be able to connect to a drive while on the network you can use Drive Mounter and that will automaticaly reconnect your client after restarts, sleep, ect. Or you can just manually reconnect.

I'm not sure how well this would work if you are looking to have user accounts... Hope this helps out a little bit.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 06:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by slomo86 View Post
I have used the server for home use and I didn't like it. It was too much hassel trying to get it set up correctly... I will admit it could have been user error. But if your just looking to be able to connect to a drive while on the network you can use Drive Mounter and that will automaticaly reconnect your client after restarts, sleep, ect. Or you can just manually reconnect.

I'm not sure how well this would work if you are looking to have user accounts... Hope this helps out a little bit.
I second this. I had no end of troubles setting up a Snow Leopard server to act as a file repository and to hold media for a HTPC. I had endless permissions problems (server permissions, not disk permissions) and complex networking issues straight out of the box. I'm no server admin either, but it should not have been as complicated as it was.

I regret the choice and would now just set up a standard computer with shared folders instead of a full-blown server.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 08:25 AM   #4
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I second this. I had no end of troubles setting up a Snow Leopard server to act as a file repository and to hold media for a HTPC. I had endless permissions problems (server permissions, not disk permissions) and complex networking issues straight out of the box. I'm no server admin either, but it should not have been as complicated as it was.

I regret the choice and would now just set up a standard computer with shared folders instead of a full-blown server.
Those were the same issues I ran into.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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The server app is overkill for 95% of people out there. Don't be fooled into thinking you need it to run a home server for basic media/document sharing etc. It can all be done through regular old OSX with minimal fuss
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Old Nov 10, 2012, 06:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octacon View Post
hi all. im contemplating on getting a mac mini server for home and educational use. my problem is that im not sure if ill need the the actual server version or just the plain jane version to run server. i plan on using all the features i could use for home use, but will only have 2 clients connected to it for the most part, my macbook pro and my wifes macbook. id rather buy a new one when tax season comes around, but ill consider a older one if the price is right. what do you all think?
If you're just doing file hosting, you won't need anything powerful. You might even be able to get by with a G4 Mini... just upgrade the HDD if necessary.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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I thank you all for your thoughts and opinions so far. I plan on going into the it field and would like to specialize in Mac hardware and networks. I want to use the Mac server for home use and use it to learn how to incorporate it into business settings. but mostly for playing with. I just don't want to buy too much Mac is all.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 09:24 PM   #8
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I had one and will mirror the comments of others. It was a hassle getting setup for basic home sharing and in the end I had it doing what I needed but I think regular OS X would have been fine.

If you really want to learn OS X Server then go for it. But it is very overkill for home use.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 03:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octacon View Post
hi all. im contemplating on getting a mac mini server for home and educational use. my problem is that im not sure if ill need the the actual server version or just the plain jane version to run server. i plan on using all the features i could use for home use, but will only have 2 clients connected to it for the most part, my macbook pro and my wifes macbook. id rather buy a new one when tax season comes around, but ill consider a older one if the price is right. what do you all think?
Mountain Lion Server, or rather, "Mountain Lion with OS X Server" as Apple calls it, is a joke. There are very few things that such a server would do that would be relevant or even useful in a "home server" setting. You can set one as a Time Machine Server, though, if that's all you're doing, a Time Capsule is cheaper and offers more storage. You can use such a server for storing files, though you could just as easily use a Time Capsule for that as well, let alone a standard AirPort Extreme with a drive attached via USB, or an older Mac capable of running "Mountain Lion with OS X Server" or "Lion Server" or "Snow Leopard Server" for that matter, also for cheaper than a Mac mini Server would cost you. You could use it as a software update server, though that's mildly annoying to set up if you're only managing two computers. You could set it up as a Netboot server, though that would be needless unless you have a computer repair side-business or want a significantly faster means of restoring your computer to a given OS. I don't know, for most things that you could use it for in the home, a proper Mac mini Server would be overkill and a waste of money.
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 04:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octacon View Post
hi all. im contemplating on getting a mac mini server for home and educational use. my problem is that im not sure if ill need the the actual server version or just the plain jane version to run server. i plan on using all the features i could use for home use, but will only have 2 clients connected to it for the most part, my macbook pro and my wifes macbook. id rather buy a new one when tax season comes around, but ill consider a older one if the price is right. what do you all think?
my opinion shld consider the old one when the price is right
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Old Nov 12, 2012, 07:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octacon View Post
hi all. im contemplating on getting a mac mini server for home and educational use. my problem is that im not sure if ill need the the actual server version or just the plain jane version to run server. i plan on using all the features i could use for home use, but will only have 2 clients connected to it for the most part, my macbook pro and my wifes macbook. id rather buy a new one when tax season comes around, but ill consider a older one if the price is right. what do you all think?
can you elaborate on this point? because this can mean any number of things. i think what you mean is for File Sharing (via say, AFP). if that's the case - you can do that with regular OSX without any issues.

might i also bring to your attention Virtual Machines. they are your best friend in this type of environment, and the mac mini is very good at handling them. they give you the ability to test/run any environment you want on the host system. so honestly, i suggest just the plain mac mini, then if you really want, spend some money on a virtual machine host + OS to play with.

for me personally, i have a dual core 2011 mac mini (base model) with 16GB RAM. i have 1x windows 2008 VM on it, 1x web server (linux) VM, a client 10.8 VM (for testing builds, etc) and at times 2-3 other VMs running. i would consider myself a very heavy consumer (prosumer, to be exact) but the stock mini with 5400rpm handles the job "ok". when i say ok, i mean that it's too slow for me, but i can put up with it. so if the base model is good enough for me - it's good enough for anybody!

goodluck with your decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulywauly View Post
The server app is overkill for 95% of people out there. Don't be fooled into thinking you need it to run a home server for basic media/document sharing etc. It can all be done through regular old OSX with minimal fuss
without a doubt. traditionally, Mac OS X server was always for use within an enterprise environment. Since Lion, that's changed a lot (to my hatred, mind you).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yebubbleman View Post
Mountain Lion Server, or rather, "Mountain Lion with OS X Server" as Apple calls it, is a joke. There are very few things that such a server would do that would be relevant or even useful in a "home server" setting. You can set one as a Time Machine Server, though, if that's all you're doing, a Time Capsule is cheaper and offers more storage. You can use such a server for storing files, though you could just as easily use a Time Capsule for that as well, let alone a standard AirPort Extreme with a drive attached via USB, or an older Mac capable of running "Mountain Lion with OS X Server" or "Lion Server" or "Snow Leopard Server" for that matter, also for cheaper than a Mac mini Server would cost you. You could use it as a software update server, though that's mildly annoying to set up if you're only managing two computers. You could set it up as a Netboot server, though that would be needless unless you have a computer repair side-business or want a significantly faster means of restoring your computer to a given OS. I don't know, for most things that you could use it for in the home, a proper Mac mini Server would be overkill and a waste of money.
so, you use the server.app and consider yourself an expert? seriously though, OSX Server has a LOT to offer. in a lot of regards, it is more powerful and customisable than the Windows counterparts. i really enjoy using it, i just HATE server.app. -grumble grumble-
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 03:50 AM   #12
Penn Jennings
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EDIT: This is partial a response to another discussion about used/new.

I just got a Mac Mini for a home server. I was considering getting a used mini but 2 major factors made it a bad idea for me.

One, the cost savings wasn't that great, people stilled wanted 450+ for a 2011 or 2010 model.

Second, and far more importantly, I'm connecting my to my mini via ethernet and using external drives. The 2012 mini has 4 USB 3.0 ports. The external USB 3.0 drives transfer data across the network at a sustained rate that exceeds the data of directly connected FW800 drives. Plus, USB 3.0 drives are sometimes the same price as bare drives. USB 3.0 with a wired network alone makes the choice a no brainier. If you are connecting either system wirelessly then even USB 2.0 will exceed your wireless transfer rate.

In my case, my concern with speed is because the mini is the Time Machine server for 3, soon to be 4 macs, and the media server for 3 Apple TVs. Three of the four macs usually backup wirelessly, if I had to restore though I would do it using a wired connection. Restoring 600+ GB wirelessly could take over 20 hours

I would say just get a 2012 Mini, trying to save 200 bucks up front could cost you on the back end.

As far as Mac OS X server goes, I did install server. The 2 features that use are DHCP and Time Machine Server. I'm no guru but the Time Machine Server function seems to make setting up remote backups much easier than "monkeying" it.

Last edited by Penn Jennings; Nov 13, 2012 at 03:56 AM.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 10:34 PM   #13
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i again thank you for thoughts and opinions. i may just get the cheaper one and make it my own at add server. i want to server to share files, be a printer server, vpn, time machine server, and more of a play toy and learning experience. i like the prospect of osx server, but i understand why others may not like it or just use regular osx.

----------

by cheaper one i meant the basic new one
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 04:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octacon View Post
i again thank you for thoughts and opinions. i may just get the cheaper one and make it my own at add server. i want to server to share files, be a printer server, vpn, time machine server, and more of a play toy and learning experience. i like the prospect of osx server, but i understand why others may not like it or just use regular osx.

----------

by cheaper one i meant the basic new one
You won't be disappointed enjoy!
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 07:23 AM   #15
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For playing and learning also look into the security aspects of those connections.

I once had a Mini as VPN server behind an AirPort Extreme. Took quite some time to get the VPN up and running; but I had to admit it was my first try with OS X Server. Was Lion 10.7, was cheap.
Looking into the log files was very interesting how many people/programs try to break into my system. Once I saw many entries on SSH trying standard users and passwords. So make sure to lock accounts and change default passwords.

Now with Mountain Lion I gave up on OS server again, specially the firewall part was removed/depreciated. We should use "pf" instead. This and the fact that I wanted a dedicated WAN interface which the Mini don't really have (and USB I tried) brought me to a dedicated system based on pfSense (a firewall distribution based on FreeBSD). With that also IPSec VPN was easy to set up.

For what I will keep my Mac OS Sever is Mobile Device Management; same as for you: just for fun and learning. Once I find some time.
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Old Nov 22, 2012, 05:59 AM   #16
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Now with Mountain Lion I gave up on OS server again, specially the firewall part was removed/depreciated. We should use "pf" instead. This and the fact that I wanted a dedicated WAN interface which the Mini don't really have (and USB I tried) brought me to a dedicated system based on pfSense (a firewall distribution based on FreeBSD). With that also IPSec VPN was easy to set up.
That's the thing though, with OSX you get the option to exploit the Unix underneath and use some very advanced and safe services, such as the firewalls for example. The front end GUI tools ARE for the basic user, but it's great to know that you can do more advanced things if you so choose. With Windows you are presented with a lot more in the GUI tools, and if you choose to dive deeper it's a bit more confusing, with Linux/etc it just all looks horrid :P

Quote:
For what I will keep my Mac OS Sever is Mobile Device Management; same as for you: just for fun and learning. Once I find some time.
MDM is very enjoyable - also to pay close attention to is the Profiling very handy!
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