Mac Mini server model as a personal computer?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by almightytubs, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. almightytubs macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2010
    Hi all, new user here

    I noticed your forum when searching for information regarding the Mac mini server edition. Specifically, there was a lot of very detailed information about why you neither want nor need OSX Snow Leopard Server for a personal home use desktop.

    My question is sort of the flipside to this. I just bought an extremely cheap Mac mini server model (2.66GHz, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD) from eBay. It was brand new and cheaper than the lowest spec personal use edition. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about servers and their OS (read: server noob). The (albeit limited) research I did seemed to indicate that there was no reason i could not run this machine (with its pre-installed Snow Leopard Server) solely as a personal use machine. I realise this is not ideal but the bottom line is, I saved a huge amount on hardware so I am now trying to optimise. I encountered a fairly major problem following initial setup which led to a whole day devoted to restoring the machine to it original status and finally setting up again fresh. It is now working but I am fearful of crashing the OS again (I really did as little as possible before the crash).

    So, now that you see my situation, I am wondering if you knowledgable folks could tell me what I should use (or not use), configure (or wipe) and install (or delete) from my machine in order to continue to use it as I would a normal mac mini with OSX Snow Leopard. Again, to emphasize, I have NO desire to run this as a server - that is way above my paygrade, I just want to use it as my personal computer. I get that this is an odd side of the fence to be stuck on but Apple are really jerking me around with support and info and I noticed this forum as seeming to understand the actual OS.

    If this OS is in fact incapable of being used as I would like, any suggestions for alternative approaches? I tried erasing the HDDs and installing a new copy of the non-server Snow Leopard (the full pack, not just the upgrade) but the machine seemed to reject it (very strange startup errors occurred, which even apple staff didn't recognise). I have an airbook superdrive so the lack of disc drive is no issue.

    Any and all help would be greatly appreciated, I've kinda backed myself into a corner here. Thanks in advance,
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    If you run into a major issue with the server OS, I'd take it to a genius bar and see if they can install the regular OS for you. Otherwise, I'd just use what's on it
  3. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    The server OS is the client OS + a bunch of server stuff. So there is no reason you cannot use it as a day-to-day operating system. Just ignore the server bits. If they really bother you, delete them.
  4. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    the mini server is just a normal mini like any other , only difference is it has two harddrives inside but no optical drive , so if you need one get a external
    if you dont like the server osx things ,like mentioned above delete the server bits from it , you got a normal mini with double harddrive space, and to be honest how often do you use the optical drive anyway ,
    but if you would need one ,just get the superdrive for the MacBook Air , job done
  5. SmilesLots macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2010
    SW Virginia
    That's what I did with my 2010 mini server. Using it at least so far as a client computer. Just have not had time to set it up as a server.
  6. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    A retail Snow Leopard disc will not work because it contains 10.6.0, which was released well before the 2010 Mini existed. As a result, the retail disc dosen't have suitable drivers for the Mini, which causes it to crash. If you wanted to install plain Snow Leopard, you would have to use a system restore disc that came with a 2010 Mini. But as others have said, it should be fine to use the server edition.
  7. PurdueGuy macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2010
    Newer discs of Snow Leopard have newer versions of the OS. It will trail the current release tho. I was just at the Apple Store this weekend, and there were stickers on the boxes that said something like "Contains version 10.6.3" or 10.6.2.

    Another thing to consider: The server versions do not come with iLife. You would need to purchase that separately. ($44.29 on Amazon, or $54.94 for the Family Pack)
  8. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    Good observations on both counts (I haven't been to a store in a while). In general though, it's always best to use device-specific media for restoring OS X (at least that's what Apple recommends). Sometimes Apple puts a custom version of a point release on new Macs, which includes drivers that the 'standard' point release lacks, so it's still no guarantee that 'retail 10.6.3' is the same as 'Mini-specific 10.6.3'

    Another suggestion to the OP: do you by chance have another intel Mac that's up-to-date OS-wise? If so, you could try cloning the old Mac's drive to the Mini using SuperDuper or a similar cloning utility. Even if you didn't want to clone the whole system, you could use Migration Assistant and get your apps (perhaps iLife as well) moved onto the new system.
  9. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    If you try to clone the OS (which may work, or may not), the one thing you'll have difficulty with using this method is hardware devices. The SD card slot, for example, is sure not to work.
  10. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    Hmm... that could be the case. But since there's been a full point release since the Minis came out, wouldn't all the Mini-specific drivers be rolled up into the general release of 10.6.4? I agree though that cloning is not guaranteed to work; I've had success moving entire systems between iMacs and MacBooks of different vintages, but that could be just a fluke.
  11. DannySmurf macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2005
    It's possible the drivers are in the general release. However, I'd think it's almost a certainty that they would NOT actually be installed on a machine of a different model (since they wouldn't be needed). If they're not installed on the source machine, they wouldn't come across with a migration.

    Disclaimer: I've never actually tried this kind of migration, so I'm hardly an expert. YMMV.
  12. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Another consideration... servers tend to have a lot more network services on by default that you would normally want off on a personal machine for the added security. I have no experience with Snow Leopard Server though.
  13. corvus32 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    This is correct. I swapped the SSD drive from my 2010 Macbook Pro into my new Mini and its card reader stopped working. It wouldn't even show up in System Profiler.

    Once I wiped the drive and re-installed using the DVD that came with the Mini, the card reader showed back up in System Profiler, and works properly now.

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