Trying to bring a 2008 Xserve back to life for home server

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by chiawen.yang, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. chiawen.yang, Dec 1, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014

    chiawen.yang macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    So I've been wanting to have a home/media server for a while now and I decided to jump on eBay and scored a nice 2008 Xserve for $150+shipping. 8-Core, 4GB ram no hard drives.

    I've been reading up on 2008 Xserve running 10.8 and 10.9 so I think it might be worth a shot since it's just the video card and editing a plist to make it work.

    New server cost:
    • Mac Mini's are not a replacement for servers and over priced, $499.00 basic to over $999.00 higher end model. :eek:
    • New Mac Pros are over $2,999.00 so no deal. :eek:

    Old server cost:
    • Mac Pro, expensive still :confused:
    • XServe, 2008 models are cheap, 2009 models are still expensive ;)
    • Mac Mini, not easily upgradable and over priced still :rolleyes:
    • iMac, no need for built in screen, not easily upgradeable and over priced :rolleyes:

    Now my new*old* Xserve. :D

    Took apart the old external hard drives laying around. 2x320GB and 1x1TB.
    Plugging them in the bay and booting up did nothing. The hard drives were not detected, so I did some research and found out about jumper 5 and 6 to reduce the speed down from 3 to 1.5.:confused:
    Plugged it back in and booted right up, set to RAID1 using the 320GB drives and leaving the 1TB for my data.

    After the long install and updates, I was able to point iTunes to the proper folder on the 1TB hard drive by holding down the option key while launching iTunes.

    For sound I decided to use a USB sound adaptor from Amazon and it works without drivers or setup!:D

    Decided to test this bad boy out with some Handbrake encoding since this will also be my media server. The results were better than my 2011 iMac i2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 with 4GB ram. :eek:

    It was movie night so I decided to put the server to work. Copying over 250GB data from my iMac over to the Xserve while the server is streaming to our Apple TV. No hiccups or anything! :eek:!253&authkey=!ACumdYOvbd50ME8&ithint=video%2cmp4

    Total cost so far: $150 for server, and $16 for the USB sound adaptor = $166.

    Now I'm justing waiting for the Nvidia GT 120 video card and the 3x2TB Hitachi HDS722020ALA330 hard drives from eBay. Pending $70 for the video card and $190 for the hard drives.

    Still trying to figure out if I should create a RAID5 for 4TB, RAID0 for 6TB.

    Stuck at this point until the Nvidia GT 120 video card arrives probably next week... Any suggestions on how I can create a OS X Maverick install dvd with the plist already modified?

    Update: Took out the old video card and installed the GT120, booted up fine. Realize the raid battery is dead and saw they were going for over $60 on eBay.
    $150 for server + $16 sound adaptor + $60 for video card + $60 for battery + $60 shipping for all the items = $346

    I said ****** it and returned it all and ordered a 2008 8-core Mac Pro with Nvidia 8800 for around the same price, couldn't find 2009 xserve. No need to edit plist file...

    Sad to see the Xserve go...
  2. chiawen.yang thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    Decided to mess with the Xserve some more.

    I wanted to create two partitions from RAID1. I found out you cannot create partitions after a RAID has been create. The only was is to create the partitions before creating a RAID in disk utility.

    Time to reinstall OS X Lion.

    I partitioned the hard drives to into 100GB and 220GB.

    After both partitions were created, click on the 100GB partition and create a RAID with the second 100GB partition and did the same for the other partition. Messed up on this part and had to redo the partitions so the numbers didn't match in the pictures.

    After it was all done, I tried to install OS X Lion, and received the OSX can't be installed because a recovery system can't be created error and clicked the restart button. I let it run for a while and somehow the install went through the 2nd time!

    iTunes and iPhoto for OS X 10.7 Lion is not the same as OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Not sure about 10.8 or 10.9. I cannot set my iTunes or iPhoto from my iMac to point to the Xserve iPhoto and iTunes library because of the version conflict... Damn.:mad:
  3. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
    It's a very cool project indeed. I also love to tinker with old machines just to see if I can make them work again - but one thing your cost comparison didn't include is cost of electricity.

    A 2008 Xserve idles at around 210 watts - 250-300 watts when in use.

    The Mac Mini (2012) idles at 11 watts, and uses 85 watts max'd out.

    Considering the home server will probably be idling 3/4 of the day (when you aren't using it), it's like burning a couple 100 watt light bulbs 18 hours x 7 days a week vs a couple nightlight bulbs....not to mention more AC required to cool it in summer.
  4. jamall, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014

    jamall macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2003
    Canberra, Australia
    fhall1, I agree that power consumption is significantly higher on an Xserve, but dispute your figures. I'm typing this on my dual-quad 2.8 GHz Xserve with nine open apps and I'm hovering between 80 and 120 W. Actually by closing two tabs with Flash content it's topping out at just under 100 W. I can draw well over 300 W if I overclock and start transcoding or during heavy gaming, but if you add the power draw of a dedicated NAS to the Mini's consumption, and allow the Xserve to sleep its drives, it starts to not look so bad.

    If it's not too late to cancel that GT 120 chiawen.yang, you can do so much better.

    Edit: OK sorry, that didn't include my GPUs which run off a separate power supply. They can draw an additional 400+ W when doing things that would make a Mini meltdown and cry, but at the moment they're hovering between 45 and 70 W, and drop to below 15 W when the displays sleep. Still not so bad.
  5. chiawen.yang thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    I need to get a Kill-a-Watt to figure out how much power I use but according to apples support site, it shouldn't be that much

    fhall1, Since the Xserve is being used for a media server, web server, email, encoding, and more, I can't have downtime when a drive fails. Mac mini isn't easy to replace a dead hard drive without downtime and taking the Mac mini apart. I love the low power usage but it's just not a real server hardware.

    jamall, I saw that post on the graphics card. It sparked my interest in this whole project but I decided to go with a Nvidia GT 120. Since it came stock on the 2009 Xserve and was part of the Mac Pro, I figured the card is plug and play with less tweaks because it's oem Apple hardware. $59 shipped on eBay, waiting for it in the mail!
  6. chiawen.yang thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    Just ordered a OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server DVD from Apple for $15+tax and it will be here in a week. Way cheaper than eBay or Amazon...

    I'm reading that certain system updates will overwrite the plist files with your hardware ID and you will have to boot to a bootable partition with OS X and edit the plist for the unsupported OS X to work again... Any here one encountered that problem?
  7. jamall macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2003
    Canberra, Australia
    Yeah it's a PITA, especially since Mavericks performs system updates in a semi-rebooted state and doesn't let you overwrite the PlatformSupport.plist file before clicking the restart button like you used to be able to do. I experimented with creating a LaunchAgent that would put the correct file there before every shutdown but didn't have much success. It basically means you have to keep a 10 GB partition with a minimal 10.7 or earlier installation, and select that as your startup disk before performing any updates.
  8. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    Very nice project.

    Firstly, OS X can't do RAID5 from memory? I believe you have to do RAID0+1.

    I do not recommend a RAID0 (for 6TB). You 3-fold increase your chances of drive failure.

    On the power usage front, yes, these use a lot of power. If you want consider enabling the LOM (Lights Out Management) where you can turn off (or even hibernate) the server and then remotely power it up (there is an iOS app for it from memory, also) from any location.

    Finally - please do not store it on the floor. Dust is not the main concern, static electricity and any other shocks may cause it to die immediately and be unfixable.

  9. neier macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2003
    Do you have a direct link to the Server DVD on Apple's page? I can only find the standard 10.6 DVD.
  10. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    You'll need to contact the Apple Store via telephone to get server.
  11. chiawen.yang, Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    chiawen.yang thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    Ha, I know, it's elevated on some wooden blocks until I can built myself a rack in the closet, not touching carpet...

    Can't do RAID5 from memory so I'm doing planning on RAID5 from 3x2TB HD. Been looking into it, RAID0 is too dangerous, and RAID1+spare is a waste of not taking advantage of this machine.

    I'm still trying to figure out the Lights Out Management, never used it before so still reading the documentations.


    I called 1-800-MY-APPLE and the customer service agent transferred me to the department to order software. I gave the rep my Xserve serial number and told him I need a 10.6 Server DVD. You cannot purchase it in the App Online store anymore.
  12. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    How are you backing up everything?

    I forget, is there a 2TB drive limit internally for the 2008 Xserve?

    Are you thinking RAID5 to eliminate down time or just to play with it? Its a PITA to rebuild RAID5 arrays made up of 1TB+ drives. Just about the time rebuild finishes, another drive fails and you've lost everything.
  13. hurleyint1386 macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Using a green drive is probably not the best idea in a server with variable speeds. Especially if you're trying to RAID them. I've also noticed that with third party drives, RAID set ups don't work well. The configuration drops out and will be offline. You can't do RAID 5 with three drives either. I'd just keep two separate drives, use the green drive as your Time Machine backup. I help run a hosting company that colocates xserves and mac minis. The minis use far less power and they have thunder bolt now which is awesome. I love my Xserve and the power, but I prefer my mini since it does almost everything I need on a cheap system.
  14. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland

    OS X 10.7 and 10.8 run the older iLife programs. The most they will run is iMovie 9.0.9 for example. OS X 10.9 will run the newer programs, but not the latest versions of them which are only supported on OS X 10.10 now.
  15. Waragainstsleep macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2003
    I've got one of these Xserves as well but I seem to have killed a temp sensor on my logic board. This thing is unimaginably loud with the fans all running full blast.

    I'll be damned if I'm buying a new board for the sake of 20c worth of surface mount resistor. Just wish I knew where it was so I could maybe try to replace it.

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