Is Mac Mini a Solution?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mcc, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. mcc macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2007
    I have an aging AMD-based Opteron system. It has developed a severe cooling problem and needs to be replaced. I use it to run a few Windows applications that can't be run on my Power Mac G5.

    I am thinking of buying a Mac Mini to run the Windows applications but have a few questions.

    (1) Can the Mac Mini operate as a "headless" system or do I need to obtain a KVM to use my existing Cinema Display, keyboard, and trackball?

    (2) Are there any known problems using Boot Camp to install Windows XP on a Mac Mini?

    (3) Would it be better to use Parallels for the Windows environment?
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Okay, I can answer all of those.

    1. O... kay. Maybe I have it wrong, but it looks like your question contradicts itself. Clarification?

    2. Like what? Besides the fact that I get the feeling that Windows knows where it is and doesn't like being on a Mac, there are no real problems. What's been listed as compatible is compatible, and what's not is not (that list is shrinking).

    3. I go Boot Camp to take full advantage of my hardware. Parallels can use a Boot Camp partition (but not the other way around, so configure Boot Camp first), so you could use both; Parallels when you need a Windows app quickly, and Boot Camp for gaming or heavy app use.

    There you go. Wish I knew what KVM means... :p
  3. Aea macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2007
    Denver, Colorado
    Keyboard, Video, Mouse. (Usually a switcher)

    I'm sure you can run the Mac Mini as a headless system if you can live with remote access, otherwise you're best buying a KVM switch if you need to constantly switch to it. I honestly don't understand what you're trying to do though :p
  4. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    I have a better solution.

    Sell your AMD rig
    Sell your PMG5 rig

    Buy a Mac Pro
    Buy VMWare

    Problem solved!`
  5. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Oh come now, we have to be tolerant of other's computational decisions. Although, there is only ONE reason* not to switch anymore: If you want to build your own system. Otherwise, there are no logical software or hardware arguments that can hold up to anything Macs have to offer.

    *This one reason statement takes into account the ability to upgrade processors, hard drives, and RAM in all Macs; however hard that may be. :D Also, the flashing of graphics cards is taken into account.

    Back to the topic: Yes. Get a Mac Pro.
  6. mcc thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2007
    If the Mac Mini can operate in "headless" mode, i.e. it does not require a keyboard, monitor, or mouse to be present to boot; I can connect it to my wireless bridge, boot it, and leave it alone. When I want to run a Windows application, I would use rdesktop on my Power Mac G5 to access the system and run the application.

    If the firmware doesn't support "headless" operation, I will need to buy a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch to present the correct signal levels to the system. At this point, I could use the KVM switch to use my Power Mac G5 monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Alternatively, as the signals were present when the system was booted I could still use rdesktop to access the system from either my Power Mac G5 or a PowerBook 17 that I have.
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I'm pretty sure that if you can configure Windows to run without anything plugged into the Mini (probably with a keyboard, mouse, and display temporarily connected just for the configuring), then you can operate it headless and RDC to it (I think you'll need XP Pro?). It's not particularly the least expensive thing you could get for the purpose of having a headless Windows box... but it's feasible.

    Macworld discusses using it (in OS X) in headless mode here:

    That's a PPC mini, but others have discussed the same for the Intel ones.
  8. mcc thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2007
    I don't have the courage to do that to anyone. While Microsoft's Vista analysis tool claims that it can run Vista Premium, the system is 6 years old. It will shutdown whenever the ambient air temperature exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    I plan to sell the Power Mac G5. I do have a buyer. My plan is to purchase a Mac Pro when the hardware is upgraded with the release of Mac OS X 10.5. Wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge!

    The AMD system isn't going to last that long. I am not, particularly, keen on buying an inexpensive PC with Vista installed plus buying software upgrades for the Windows applications. Buying a Mac Mini seemed like a possible alternative unless I need to buy a KVM.

    Basically, I'm looking at alternatives to tide me over until November.

    Why VMWare and not Parallels? I use VMWare at work to run Windows and am, definitely, not impressed. My son-in-law who works in Apple's Windows IT Support Group swears by Parallels.
  9. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Buy a cheapo Dell N Series with FreeDOS on it and remove the monitor option. I've hit $359 on the 531N doing that.

    Well that is if you have a Windows license to use.
  10. mcc thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2007
    I still have my original Windows XP SP2 disk and it's registration key. Also, I have the disks and registration keys for each application that I need to use. Actually, I think i have the disks for all software that I've purchased since acquiring a Tandy 2000 in 1989. Probably, I should toss some of that as I haven't seen a system with 5 1/4" floppy drive in years.

    I think I still have the source code for all software and firmware that I have developed since 1972. All of the hardware is past it's "best by" expiration date but the cool solutions are, still, invaluable today. Sometimes what you did when you were "younger and dumber" provides the essential insight to solving today's problems.

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