Which Machine?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by brussell27, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. brussell27, Sep 10, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012

    brussell27 macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2012
    After messing with Lion server for about a year and never getting it working correctly, I'm contemplating trying ML server and see if I can get it right this time.

    Currently, I have a 2011 2.3 Mini i5 with 8gb of ram and a 500 gb Momentus XT drive and a 2009 C2D MBP 2.3 with 8gb of a ram and a 500gb hd. The mini is currently in the kitchen as the main family computer. The MBP has a busted screen and is working as a desktop in the family room. Attached to the MBP are a couple of external drives for photos, files and iTunes as well as a 4 bay Drobo for TimeMachine. Right now the MBP gets minimal use as a desktop and minimal use connected to the home theater using a HDMI switch. I may add an Apple TV the HT and ditch the HDMI switch. I know the MBP won't support AirPlay but I think I have seen 3rd party software that give it that functionality with the Apple TV and the HT. Everything is hardwired with Cat6 Gigabit Ethernet.

    With that long explanation of my setup, which machine would you make the server? The MBP and all of the external drives are currently in a data closet. If the Mini is the best machine for server, would it be best to attach all the external drives to it? I'd prefer to keep them tucked away in the data closet just to avoid the fan noise but would sacrifice that for the best performance.

    Mini - faster machine, gets lots of "desktop" use.
    MBP - slower machine, mostly idle.

    Which would you choose?


  2. switon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2012
    RE: Okay...

    Hi Brad,

    Let me ask, why do you wish to run OS X Server? From the sounds of your description, everything you require is handled in ML without the server. But of course, there are many reasons you might want to run the server software, such as running your own websites and wikis.

    As you say, the mini is the best choice for the server, as it can easily run 24/7 without sleeping. The MBP running 24/7 would be a little bit more work, as you should probably "recalibrate" its battery say once a month, meaning that since it is plugged in 24/7, once a month you should unplug it and let it run down its battery. I would also worry about the MBP running 24/7 in a data closet getting hot, as the MBP would use more power than the mini (the mini at idle only uses 13W).

    I take it that a "busted screen" means that the MBP's screen is unusable; and that you have an external monitor for the mini? Or are you using the TV as the screen for the mini by attaching the TV to the HDMI of the mini? Since your MBP is currently in the closet, this suggests that you have a keyboard and trackpad attached to the mini, are they bluetooth? In any case, there might be an alternative hookup for you equipment.

    Say you install OS X Server on the mini, hook the external drives and Drobo (the mini has Firewire 800 for the Drobo) to the mini, and place the mini with the drives in your data closet. Then you bring your MBP out of the closet and hook your monitor/TV to it to use as your family "desktop" machine. I assume you have both a bluetooth keyboard and trackpad that you were using for the mini initially, you now use them on the MBP. Your mini is now headless and without keyboard and trackpad. You interact with the mini via Screen Sharing/Remote Management from the MBP which now uses the external monitor/TV that you are now using on the mini as the display for the MBP, and the wireless keyboard and trackpad are now the input devices for the MBP also.

    I believe the MBP is plenty fast enough for what you listed as its uses, and the mini is the better choice to run as a 24/7 server. All of your disks still remain in the closet so you won't have their fan noise bothering you. If several users in the family require more computation power, then this is where some of those servers can come into play. For instance, you might then run DNS and OD on the mini server to allow your users network logins, they could login to the mini to use its faster CPU whenever they need the speed. (Unfortunately, Apple has eliminated Xgrid from ML OS X Server, so you won't be able to use Xgrid -- I'm still trying to figure out what to do about this myself.) The mini could also run any of the other servers, say Calendar and Contacts and Wiki, and you could then access the family calendar over the Internet from anywhere. Anyway, you get the picture.

    This setup also has the advantage that the MBP is out of the closet, and thus could potentially be used as a portable laptop. Granted, a busted screen makes this less useful. But let's say that you decide to get the screen replaced, then you would have a useful portable laptop that is not stuck away in the closet. Or, I assume the next machine you upgrade will be the MBP, in which case you would then have a working MBP as a portable laptop as well as the family desktop. Even with the laptop's display being functional, I find that I still prefer using a monitor as an external display for my MBP as my antediluvian eyes appreciate the larger real estate of the bigger screen. So, after fixing your MBP's screen or after upgrading to a new MBP, you will still use your monitor/TV as an external display to the MBP when in "family" mode plus you also may use the MBP as a portable laptop. [Do you have Applecare on your MBP, if so you might still be under the 3 year warrantee and thus get some relief in fixing the screen?]

    ...just a little free advice, and, as always, the quality of the advice is directly proportional to the size of the cost...

    Good luck,

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