Mac Mini Server as a staging server running Ubuntu? Yes!

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ooh456, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. ooh456 macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2010
    Stockholm Sveeeden
    Hi. I am a web developer using Mac to develop and Ubuntu Server to deploy. It's a pretty standard setup nowadays.

    The time came to replace my staging server ( which I keep at my home on a dedicated IP ) and I could not resist the allure of the new Mac Mini Server. So I bought one and tried to do a Ubuntu install and thought I could sell my OSX server license as I have no need of it.

    I imagine a lot of people not used to Apple's policies might think like this. So how did it go? Bad and then good.

    As far as I have been able to ascertain, it's impossible to install Ubuntu on a Mac Mini Server ( at least without the additional DVD-ROM drive which I refuse to buy ).

    What's more, the OSX Server license I bought is not transferable to non-Mac Mini Server computers so I can't really sell it anyway.

    Even more disturbing... booting from a USB drive seems to be impossible on the thing without hacking the EMI Firmware ( which I refuse to do).

    My last attempt was to use the shared DVD-ROM drive on my Macbook Pro to install Ubuntu on the thing. No go. You can only boot from the Mac OSX Server disk which comes with the server.

    Well I got sick of waiting and ended up running Max OSX server as God ( or at least Steve Jobs ) intended. Wow. It's a pretty good OS and I like it... but the whole point of a staging server is to duplicate the live environment so it will never work as good as I need it to work.

    I was stuck... what to do... then it hit me!

    VirtualBox to the rescue.

    I downloaded the free version and installed Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 64 bit with networking in Bridge Mode. Now the VM can be accessed just like any other node on the network ( with its own IP ). In practice its just like having a stand alone Ubuntu server. This may seem obvious to some people but for me it was a revelation. Now both OSX Server and Ubuntu can be accessed independently and due to the 4gbs of ddr memory and fast CPU its faster than I expected and works like a charm.

    So... that was my very simple solution and now I have the best of both worlds.

    Also as a note to those who want to know... the Mac Mini Server will boot and reboot just fine without a keyboard and mouse and monitor attached ( as one might expect )

    I hope this post helps someone. If I had to do it all over again... I would do it just the same. Nice job Apple.
  2. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    sounds like to me you were the one who did not know what they were doing.

    mac's os come locked to the machine (at least the discs do to that type of machine) so of course you cannot sell it separately.

    i boot from memory sticks on both my mac mini's all the time. i also boot from external cdrom's.

    one of my mini's is the 2.66 dual hdd server you speak of.
  3. alucard001 macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2010

    Just read your post and find very inspiring.

    Actually I am also a web developer and I need to install latest Ubuntu on my latest bought Mac Mini.

    I would like to ask, if I want it to be a 24/7 test web server (running nginx) and SVN, both running on virtual Ubuntu, how is the speed? Is it acceptable?

    Thanks for answering, I am looking forward to your reply.
  4. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    That actually is one of the main reasons to virtualise a machine. You can use things like snapshots as well which is great when you're testing stuff. If you screw something up you simply restore the previous snapshot and all is well. If necessary you can even run multiple staging servers at the same time although this will slowdown the machine (plenty of memory and fast I/O such as ssd's will allow you to run more vm's at the same time).
  5. signbrowser macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2010

    It might be helpful if you could provide a Howto, as there is currently little available on the internet.

    my particular interest is 1Tb latest version mac mini server running ubuntu server 10.04 LTS
  6. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Well, you can omit yourself the last paragraph, because you at least managed to install Ubuntu.
    $500 would have given you a machine with an old MacMini case replica which accomodates a 3.5" hard drive, a socket 775 Mini-ITX machine with the specs of the new Mini and a 2TB hard drive inside.
    I don't get why anyone buys a Mini Server for $1000, which is a screen-less MacBookPro with an omitted SuperDrive and one added 2.5" drive, where at least $250 of the price you paid for it belongs to you Mac OS X Server serial, and installs Ubuntu rather then build a Mini-ITX machine at the same form factor for half?
    Only thing "Server" in there are the hard drives. The rest is laptop grade stuff.

    Have one of these and put in what ever you like. 3.5" hard drives, RAM, even Hardware RAID, SAS+drives, PCIe and PCI-X.
  7. signbrowser macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2010

    One excellent reason for buying macminiserver is the silence.
    advice I have received is that rack servers are noisy! and not suited to office environment, hence the expensive racks, cooling, redundant supplies etc.

    >> Have one of these and put in what ever you like. 3.5" hard drives, RAM, even Hardware RAID, SAS+drives, PCIe and PCI-X.[/QUOTE]

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