mac mini server vs G5 dual 2.0 xserve

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by kernalzero, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. kernalzero macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2009
    So i'm pretty torn with this decision because i've been contemplating the mini server for some time. My main hesitation is the single gigabit port, I really need a second port which the mini doesn't offer (USB ethernet is going to be too slow). I have a decent deal to acquire an older 2004 version G5 xserve with DP 2.0, 6GB ram, etc at a far lesser price than even a refurb 2010 mini server. My needs are fairly low end because this server will be in my home simply running a web server, email server, DHCP, firewall, VPN, client management and file sharing. I can leave this xserve setup plugged in to do it's thing and connect through VNC to make changes. With a mac mini server setup it would also double part time as a client machine while i check forums, listen to music, occasionally play a game and do all of the above also (obvious concern for potential downtime of the web/email server for whatever reason if this is being used as a client machine as well as a server)... obviously the xserve line is being discontinued and G5 models will never have 10.6 SLS to upgrade to which I'm fine with... your thoughts?
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    HAVING OWNED a 2009 mini server (still have it) and having sold a 2010 mini server. I would say buy a 2009 refurb from apple online. they come up a lot they are about 749 or so. lots of reasons why.
    number one it will have 1 yr warranty with option to add 2 more via apple care.

    number two it will have new server software.
    number 3 is is 100 lower then a 2010 server.
  3. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Well, if you really need the second ethernet port, the decision is pretty easy, isn't it?
  4. kernalzero thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2009
    hence my predicament...

    unless someone better with network setup than myself can suggest how I would setup my network for the mini to run DHCP/firewall/VPN from behind my linksys router running DD-WRT (i'd prefer not to spend the next week setting up port forwarding etc on the router)

    Cable modem --> xServe --> linksys DD-WRT changed to a WAP/switch
    every other device on the network would then connect to the WAP or I can insert a PCI-X ethernet card into the xserve to add clients to the network (ones not connecting through wifi)

    cable modem --> linksys router running DD-WRT -->Mac mini server
    --> iMac/MBP/etc
    (with this setup i'll have to spend a good deal of time setting up the router to port forward, etc before even starting to setup everything on the server...)

    any other options?
  5. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    From what I can tell, from what you want, all you need to forward really is 22 (SSH, tunnel VNC over it) and 80 (web). Moreover I've always preferred having a dedicated firewall that's different from my services machines in front of everything, running your firewall and NAT on that/those server(s) is not always the best option. Also, multihoming the xserve with a new port for each new client as you seem to suggest is utter overkill and will make routing a pain - unless you really needed gig to the server from every client, simultaneously, (which chances are anything you're going to be running by this point on a dual g5 with a couple discs wouldnt benefit from anyway) you'd be far better off sticking a gig switch in.

    Most importantly of all, since this is for home use, the G5 xserve will be *very* loud and very power hungry, the mini is neither. The mini will also be faster.

    Go with the mini and use the network config:

    Modem-->router(with wireless to your wireless clients)-->(possible necessary switch-->)all your wired clients (including the mini, with a static IP or persistent IP from router and ports 22 and 80 forwarded).

    (also, if you *really* want to pipe everything through the server put a 10/100 USB dongle on the mini, and use that end towards your web connection, I doubt you have over a 100meg pipe into your house, though if I'm wrong I envy you)
  6. kernalzero thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2009
    Yeah I thought about going with the USB dongle as a possible option. The last time I tried a similar setup my problem involved my router not being able to forward any of the VPN ports at all. I've considered adding a hardware firewall behind my modem to run NAT between my modem and the server (Mac mini or Xserve). If I could afford a connect beyond 100m I would have just bought a new xserve ;-)

    How loud are the xserves?
  7. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    For home use a good router running dd-wrt should be easily able to handle your routing, port forwarding, nat, firewall, etc, you don't need anything more. You don't need to route through your server at all for this kind of use!

    (I hear yah on the connection :p)

    Like windtunnels. They're 1u boxes, they run LOUD!
  8. kernalzero thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2009
    So I misspoke, I have DD-WRT running on a WRT54GL running as a WAP on my network already, my primary router is a WRT54GL running tomato... tomato can't handle PPTP/L2TP at all. I may switched back to DD-WRT on that primary router (I'm not really a big fan of tomato but just never got around to reverting back to DD-WRT) and go for the mac mini server.

    any opinions changed if the xserve was going to run around $200 to buy(i'll have to provide my own server serial #)?
  9. ahankinson macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2010
  10. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    There are builds of Tomato with VPN support (see the wikipedia article for a list).

    For $200 I still wouldn't put an xserve in my house unless I could drop it in a soundproof room or cabinet (though I might buy it as a cool piece of tech to play with once in a while :p). If you're running it full time it belongs in a rack, in a machine room.
  11. kernalzero thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2009
    I have the VPN version of tomato and it sucks when you use a mac... nothing like PTPP/L2TP, so much more complicated that it needed to be...

    I'm in agreement with the 'fun piece of tech' comment. i think it would just be cool to play with or just have sitting in my office but if it's as loud as you all suggest i think the mini is the way i'll end up going. it's really hard to beat the mac mini server form factor too!
  12. seek3r macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    Depends on which version, some of them use different VPN servers, but yeah, go for the mini. It'll be faster, quieter, and less power hungry, and in no way impede your ability to do what you're planning (and it's so small and cute!).

    If you have the extra 200 pick up the xserve to play with, you'll see what I mean about loud. 1u servers are *not* meant for the home.

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