New mini on the way, what can I usefully do with my old mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Oujmik, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Oujmik macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    I've heard of many people using their old mini as a server for media. However, my new mini will be directly connected to my stereo and TV and will be massively faster than the old one could ever be, so I can't see any benefit in hosting my media on an older, slower machine with a tiddler of a hard drive (its a 2009 2Ghz C2D with 120GB HDD and 4GB RAM). So, any good ideas of what I can do with it? I don't really have space to run it with a screen etc, so it will have to be a server or remotely accessed machine of some kind, but I'm not quite sure how it would be useful - any broght ideas?

    I'm computer literate, but not a big-time geek so I'm not looking to invest a lot of fettling time into this, but I'm open to fun ideas.

    I wonder if it could stream TV over WiFi so we could watch on other devices... I have Elgato EyeTV, does that support any kind of streaming??

    Or perhaps it could act as a kind of wi-fi back-up server for other devices, taking backups and writing them to an external drive?
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
  3. lamerica80 macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2008
    Im in the same situation, and im going to use it for my garage band music studio. I will pick up a used monitor for that (i used to have it connected to the TV)
  4. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    EyeTV does indeed support streaming. All you need is the EyeTV app on an iOS device and the correct setting in EyeTV to enable iOS access. I'm actually using this combination to watch live TV on my iPad being fed from the mini in the attic.

    I can even airplay the live stream to my big screen TV (e.g. to watch encrypted channels I only have one decryption card for - EyeTV 310/320 with its CI slot housing an Alphacrypt light does the trick and keeps load low on the mini due to the FireWire interface). Picture quality while airplaying still leaves a bit to desire, but its a good start. A little annoying is that I have to connect the iPad to a power outlet, otherwise the stream will be interrupted as soon as the iPad switches off the screen - did not figure out yet how to avoid that and run completely on battery.

    Just to be clear: watching on the iPad directly (without power connection) is working until it runs out of battery.

    Depending on your wireless router EyeTV may not properly connect to the mini - I have two routers in the house and I could not "convince" the non-Apple one to allow proper streaming (it's a cheap one needed as "modem", so not much settings/poor web interface). Therefore you should make sure that your router allows proper port forwarding and support for the required protocols.
  5. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    I'm just going to sell my old mini. It's slow and I don't need another server machine as my new one will become one once new MBPs are released.
  6. dazey macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2005
    I leave one at work (g4 mini) and it does all my off site backups. Great thing about minis, small and low power, you can dump them anywhere to perform tasks like this.
  7. bankshot macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    Depending on how much media you have, you could stick an external drive on it and put it in another room to serve up media files to the new one in your TV room. That way you wouldn't have to have an external drive sitting by the TV. Or a general backup/file server may be useful depending on your needs (you can host Time Machine backups for multiple machines on an AFP share).

    Barring that, here's what I did with mine (a 2007-era 1.83 C2D mini). Maybe it'll spark some ideas. Prior to last week, my old mini was both the home server and my desktop machine. I decided I didn't want to spend hours fiddling and making everything work on the new mini, so I kept basically all server stuff on the old one. It now runs headless with 4 external drives attached:

    • Media server: all of my DVDs are ripped to an external drive, and the machine runs pyTiVoX to serve that media to my TiVo.

    • PuppyCam: I have a few network cameras around the house, primarily to watch the dogs when we're away, but also for general security. Over the years I've built up a set of custom scripts that capture images from the cameras and present them via either web interface (using OS X's built-in Apache) or a back-end to an iOS app I wrote. It will also combine the images into time-lapse movies using QuickTime Pro (great for quickly seeing who was bad during the day ;)).

    • Mail: I use fetchmail to download my mail from a server, then procmail to sort it into folders, and finally dovecot to serve it to OS X's or iOS Mail.

    • Print/scan server: I kept the printer/scanner on that machine so it now shares those services to the new mini.

    • Lights: I have a lot of X10 light switches installed in my house, and some scripts to control when certain lights get turned on and off automatically. A transceiver module is hooked to the computer via USB-to-serial cable. Also tied into the PuppyCam interfaces to allow remote turn on/off of any lights in the house.

    • File server: the old mini shares its disks with the new one in case I need to copy any old files over. Basically, I tried to start clean with the new machine and only copy over files I really use (iPhoto & iTunes libraries, email, financial data, certain app data, etc). I have so much other random crap strewn about various drives, going back for years, that I didn't want it to bog down the new machine. It's there if I decide I need it.
  8. Treq macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2009
    Santa Monica, CA
    It's totally worthless... send it to me and I'll recycle it for you...:D
  9. Oujmik thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Hmmm... some interesting suggestions. I could rig it up to an old camera and use it to shoot photos out of my window all day and post them to Flickr... I'm not sure what that would achieve. Could be good for spying on the local cats or other wildlife.

    I was thinking of using it to host a website for my photos but I'm not sure it offers much benefit over Flickr or similar.

    I could set it up with Remote desktop and DNS so I could dial into it whenever I felt the need to use a mac... I'm not sure of the potential security implications of having a machine inside my network that would be so easily accessed from outside... I could possibly put it in the DMZ on my router, but that's getting into territory I know very little about.

    The backup server is currently the favourite, although I'm planning to use Time Machine with my existing 1TB FW800 drive so I will already have an onsite backup and the old mini can't really be very far from the new one, but I guess it's an extra level of backup.

    Or I could sell it or give it away, but the optical drive is broken and it's getting buggy.
  10. mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    Do you have a parent or sibling who could use it? You won't get much out of selling it, and the new one can easily handle all the above tasks suggested above. See if you can convert a family member to Mac.

    Just be sure to teach them to avoid mackeeper.

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