Buying a mac mini to start iphone app programming.

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by stanny, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. stanny macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    I am thinking of getting a mac mini and start Iphone app programming, good idea? I heard the SDK only works on 10.5.5 Leopard, would I be able to update the Mini to that?
  2. buckyballs macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2006
    As long as its an intel mac mini and is running leopard, you just need to run software update to update to 10.5.5 for free
  3. ghayenga macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    All Mac minis are intel.
  4. xsmasher macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2008
    All *new* Mac Minis are Intel. Models in 2005 and early 2006 were not. The OP should be aware of that if they're buying used.
  5. MacHappytjg macrumors 65816

    Mar 24, 2008
    Theres such a thing called a Mac Mini G4 :rolleyes:
  6. stanny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hrm thing is, don't know if it would be worth it to buy a Mini at this point considering it came out in 2007 and might be updated real soon.
  7. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    Some things to consider:

    Hi there;

    Here are some things to consider:

    1. XCODE will run fine on the Mini, that in and of itself isn't a problem.
    2. The Mini is expected to be upgraded, possibly late this month. Some see it as long in the tooth, which in some ways might be true, but for iPhone programming it is good enough if purchased new.
    3. Someone has already pointed out that new Minis are Intel based but that some of the older models are PPC based. You do not want to get into programming iPhone on a used PPC machine. It is not supported at all.
    4. The harddrive on some older Mini Models may be a problem in that they don't have enough space. I installed XCODE on a new MBP with a 200GB disk drive along with NeoOffice and some other programming tools and used up about half my disk space. This can become a critical issue if you use the machine for things other than programming. Don't underestimate the need for disk space.
    5. By the way that disk space would be even nicer if it was fast to get to. On the current Mini that means an upgrade to the internal drive or a FireWire drive. Frankly FireWire isn't all that fast, compiling can be very disk intensive at times. However iPhone programms are generally smaller so maybe this isn't something that will kill you.
    6. The current Mini may not be a very good long term investment for a programmer. The problem is old hardware that won't support some of Apples new software technologies coming in Snow Leopard. If you want to develop companion programs for the Mac to use with the iPhone this might be a problem. Here I'm talking about OpenCL mostly which might make it to the iPhone also.
    7. Realize that no matter what machine you get XCode and the iPhone SDK are buggy. I hate to say it but the iPhone SDK is far from Apples norm for released software quality. So don't blame your hardware.
    8. Frankly if you are not in a rush I'd consider waiting on new Apple hardware or look for a bargain on Apples Store. It is just that I would feel bad about somebody investing list price right now in the current Mini. Yes it will do the job, it si just that it does have a few weak points.
    9. Max out RAM on the machine. This makes Mac OS/X the snappy and generally helps with XCode.

    Hopefully some of the above will be important to you. If you are real successful with your app you should be able to by whatever you want for a new platform, so a Mini could be seen as a low exposure way to iPhone programming.

  8. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    If you need a machine now, get the mini (max the RAM) - it works fine and despite what dave suggests, XCode doesn't take up that much space. I've been running my Core duo for almost 2 years now - its plenty fast for iPhone development and iLife...
  9. stanny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hey thanks alot man, really appreciate the detailed reply. I'm gonna see how it goes in the next couple of weeks if Apple releases a new mini or not I'm just gonna go ahead and get one. I'm not that in a rush but I don't wanna be waiting forever.
  10. the_fellowship macrumors regular

    Aug 10, 2008
    London, UK
    I've been running the latest iPhone SDK and XCode on my Intel based Mac Mini (2.0GHz 1GB RAM) fine for the past 6 months :)
  11. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    An update to one point.

    Well the space is more than zero but I do remember now that I has Eclipse installed at the time. Eclipse does eat a lot of disk space for even a simple installation. Since my machine gets used for other things there is a bunch of data and other files installed. Some of those files being the suite of examples Apple has. In any event I still stand by my suggestion to make sure you get a machine with an acceptable amount of storage space, it might not be as bad as first suggested but should be considered in a purchase.

    Otherwise the Mini certainly can be an acceptable machine. The only issue I have is the idea that it is just about ready for what may be a major revision.

  12. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    I'd sooner buy a used MacBook than buy a used Mini. Just a thought. And if you decide to get a desktop machine later on, then you'd have that and a laptop too. The best of both worlds. And I bet you'd get a better ROI from a MacBook than a Mini.
  13. stanny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2008
    Hi guys, I just saw front page that new mac minis is going to run Atom processors. However, it's dual core. Will that run the Iphone SDK? Better? Worse?
  14. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    On my Mac XCode takes up 3.9GB and eclipse takes up 314MB.

    The Atom rumor is just a rumor.
  15. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    Separate the rumors from the unknowns.

    You are making an assumption that a RUMOR is based on solid evidence, which right now does not appear to be the case. Look at it this way Apple has options for its line up and an ATOM is a possibility in one or more PLATFORMS but is not a giving, right now only a few people at Apple really know.

    Atom could potentially go into a extremely low end Apple Mac Micro, but I don't see that as a replacement for the Mini. If that was the case the Mini would become a midrange machine. But really learn to separate wild ass guesses from things based on fact.

    As to the performance of XCODE on an ATOM based processor the only way you will know is to contact somebody that has Hackentoshed and existing ATOM based PC and has XCode experience. Then don't trust positive feedback, the problem being it is an opinion and doesn't reflect anything with out comparative numbers. The other problem is that we don't know for sure what Apples implementation will be. For a desktop they might get their hands on 3GHz units for all we know. Intel doesn't sell ATOMS at clock rates anywhere ATOMs.

    Oh don't rely on people telling you that OpenCL will be a big help here. The problem is that the act of compiling and running an IDE isn't likely to benefit from math optimized GPU processing. It might help the management of hyperthreading and the other core but that is about it. The potential is for XCode to suck on ATOM but that has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  16. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    I wasn't trying to dismiss XCode size but to highlight just how big Eclipse can be. The problem with eclipse is that it grows quickly with updates, I think the directory was just over 1GB when I go feed up and deleted it. By the way it wasn't the size of Eclipse that disappointed me and caused the delete, rather it was the way that Eclipse updating system always ends up broken. The need for disk space popped up and the frustration level was just to high to keep Eclipse around.

    One of the reasons I liked having Eclipse installed was that it was a good editor for the way I write code, especially Python code. I find the Python editor in XCode to be troubled. So I've been messing around with MacVim and Idle.

    It should also be noted that I've installed some open source utilities and code also. This will add a bit to disk usage, especially if you keep the source on the disk.

    I still stand by my assertion that you don't want to small of a disk drive. Of course with the Mini you have easy external options and my build system is a laptop.

    Yeah I have a hard time with people not realizing that a rumor means nothing. What they should look at is the actual released hardware if it ever comes.


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