Would I benefit from running OS X Server?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Droid13, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. Droid13 macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Dear All,

    I am currently in the market for a basic desktop computer and would quite like to run OS X - my limited desk space essentially leaves me with the only viable option being a Mac Mini. There are two main models to choose from and my current budget can be extended to purchase the server version.

    What I would like to do is have a basic home network that connects my MacBook, future Mac Mini, PS3, iPhone and external hard drive together for access locally, and to enable sharing of a single Internet connection - I will need to purchase a wireless access point to allow access to my ethernet connection via a private wifi network. I would also like to be able to access my external hard drive and Mac Mini securely from a remote location using the MacBook.

    Is this something that can be done easily using OS X, or would I benefit from OS X Server? I have never run a server before, but if there is a good reason to do so then I can invest the time to learn.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  2. jerry333 macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2005
    OS X Server is best used when you have a static IP and wish to publish content, run mail, calendar server, etc. from the several server applications included.

    The only thing it looks like you might use that's slightly easier in the server version is the more configurable firewall, but there are many firewalls for OS X available. Because the Mini has only one ethernet port, NATting is best done with a NATting router. While it's possible to do NATting with only one serial port, it's not nearly as secure.
  3. lbundle macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2004
    If you have to ask you don't need it

    All the features you asked for can be done easily with the non-server version. For sharing of a single access point just an Airport extreme will work fine.

    You might actually end up caught in a subtle issue. With Server 10.5. I learned the hard way that installing Adobe Photoshop can fail on the server.
  4. Droid13 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2009
    United Kingdom
    That subject line is fair enough...

    Thanks for your responses: If I have to ask there is a more than fair chance that I don't need it! And based on this bit here there are probably more problems (or is it features?) that come with a server version that I just wouldn't want to have to deal with:

    I am quite inexperienced when it comes to setting up my own network but I think I get the general way of putting things together. However, would it be possible to expand on this post:

    It's the term "serial port" that is throwing me - is that a reference to the ethernet port on the back of the mini? Pardon my ignorance, networking beyond setting up a local wifi network for internet access is not something I have done before.

    As an aside, is it possible to get the Mini and the PS3 to play along and share any media? I'm guessing DRM'd iTunes files won't work, but would it be possible to share other files?
  5. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    NullRiver's MediaLink (http://www.nullriver.com/products/medialink) should be perfect for that job - at least their software for sharing files with the Xbox 360 works fine for me.

    The poster who wrote about serial ports was no networking expert either. But of course he meant the Ethernet port of the computer; I don't know if there ever was a Mac that actually had a serial port. They are very common in the PC world (and of real use in the server room, among other things) but not in Mac land.

    If you really consider to purchase the Mac Mini, you could even use its built-in Airport card as a wireless access point, although Apple does a rather sloppy job here: They don't offer WPA or WPA2 encryption for Internet Sharing over the Airport card, that's rather sub-standard.

    I would recommend purchasing a TPLink network router for around 60 bucks (TPL WL RT TL-WR941ND Adv Routr) and install Linux on it (see http://www.dd-wrt.com for more info). That's the best bang for the buck on the market. If you want more, you have to buy a Mikrotik RouterBoard, but they start at around 250 bucks and they are already aimed at professional/commercial use.
  6. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    You don't need server.

    For price of Mac Mini Server you can get a refurb iMac, same warranty as new, looks like new.
  7. jerry333 macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2005
    That was a typo on my part. Finger typed serial, brain though ethernet. Of course if you only use the wireless for internal use, then it can be secure but I generally use wireless as a last resort so I made the assumption that you'll have at least one internal computer hardwired (besides the Mini).
  8. Droid13 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2009
    United Kingdom

    Thank you all for your help - I can see that for my needs a server is overkill and comes with added problems for the inexperienced, not to mention the added cost.

    Thanks for the explanation!

    If I had the desk space for an iMac I'd get one, but I don't - the normal Mini it'll have to be, with perhaps a DIY RAM upgrade.

    Will look into that - and thanks for the router/software recommendation.

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