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Apple Blurs the Server Line With Mac Mini Server

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-easy-a-child-can-set-it-up dept.

OS X 557

Toe, The writes "Today Apple announced several new hardware offerings, including a new Mac mini, their (almost-literally) pint-sized desktop computer. In a bizarre twist, they are now also offering a Mac mini with Mac OS X Server bundled in, along with a two hard drives somehow stuffed into the tiny package. Undoubtedly, many in the IT community will scoff at the thought of calling such a device a 'server.' However, with the robust capabilities of Snow Leopard Server (a true, if highly GUI-fied, UNIX server), it seems likely to find a niche in small businesses and even enthusiasts' homes. The almost completely guided setup process means that people can set up relatively sophisticated services without the assistance of someone who actually knows what they are doing. What the results will be in terms of security, etc. will be... interesting to watch as they develop." El Reg has a good roundup article of the many announcements; the multi-touch Magic Mouse is right up there on the techno-lust-inspiration scale.

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I can see plenty of uses for it. (4, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814023)

Especially if you have other Macs in your office, you can leave OS X on it and have a nice little small office server. You could also throw Debian or Ubuntu on it and use it as you see fit.

The small form factor would make it easy for a developer to keep one on the (literal) desktop alongside a workstation. Personally, I'd use virtualization instead, but others may prefer having a physical box to play with.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814129)

Not only the small form factor but the Mini has an extremely low power consumption. Homes and small businesses should like that.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (5, Interesting)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814131)

If you're going to put Debian or Ubuntu on it, you might as well get the regular mini. Part of the value is that the Mac mini Server is only $100 more than the standard mini equipped with a single 500 GB drive, when OS X Server costs $500 on its own. I think it's an interesting package. Not everyone needs a Mac Pro or XServe for a server. The mini is plenty for a small scale server, and OS X Server is easy to set up.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (2, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814199)

From a cost perspective, that's true. I'd probably leave OS X Server on it and run Linux in a VM on it if I needed to.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (5, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814695)

"Part of the value is that the Mac mini Server is only $100 more than the standard mini equipped with a single 500 GB drive"

A caveat: the server does not have an optical drive (that's where they stuffed the other HD). Still a good deal, just not quite as good as on first glance.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814157)

Professional Photographers need massive server space as a photo have become 50 - 80 meg each

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (4, Informative)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814653)

Professional Photographers need massive server space as a photo have become 50 - 80 meg each

You will then notice that there is a Configure-to-order option of a Promise FireWire 800 RAID unit with 4x 1TB hard drives.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (1, Funny)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814603)

Sure, I love how the small form factor is small enough to keep on a desk but heavy enough that all my papers I put underneath it won't just go flying away. I've always wanted a pearl white paper weight with connectors on it.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814801)

I have been wanting a 2ed OSX server to use as a OD replicate. Most of I don't have pointed at LDAP is pointed at a RADIUS server which is pointed at the OD/LDAP. Linux, BSD, Applications, and authentication for most of two different wide area educational networks across the state. I had planed on buying the better mini, a server license, and then sticking at another one of our POPs once 10.6 had been out and I upgraded my primary OSX server. I don't need it to do everything my main OSX Server dose, just a few important things like an OD replicate and VPN. (All my other really important stuff like DNS is already distributed between different POPs across the state.) If the NOC blows up staff can VPN into the Mini from home to get critical tasks done.

I know I could use OpenLDAP, replication, etc, etc, but with a staff of less then 20 people, half of which are MACs, OSX server has been a great SMB product fit.

Re:I can see plenty of uses for it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814809)

Please - The only thing this "server" is going to do is stimulate the rectum of iFags.

Think you're safe from viruses? Let's see how you like AIDS.

Bold claim... (4, Insightful)

sean_nestor (781844) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814027)

"The almost completely guided setup process means that people can set up relatively sophisticated services without the assistance of someone who actually knows what they are doing."

...call me skeptical on that one.

Re:Bold claim... (5, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814067)

Apple's actually pretty good at this, although it can lead to the same sorts of problems many businesses face with regard to Windows-based server solutions. The easier something is for "anybody" to set up, the less likely an organization will be to keep a good admin around. So when stuff blows up, they can find themselves scrambling for someone to fix problems.

Re:Bold claim... (5, Insightful)

sean_nestor (781844) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814405)

That's precisely how many consulting companies make their daily bread. Hell, nothing wrong with that. But you have to admit, it seems a bit misleading to claim that something like a server can be setup "without the assistance of someone who actually knows what they are doing."

That is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. I've been in the unfortunate spot of representing a consulting company called in to configure a Mac OSX Server purchased by less-than-knowledgeable employees. It was a small business, about 5-10 people, that did contract-based graphic design/marketing. They loved Apple stuff, and were suckered into a completely unnecessary Xserve system, complete with overpriced external rack-mount tape backup drive. Being young and mildly tech-conscious, they overestimated their ability to manage this thing, doubtlessly egged on by some "whiz" at a Genius Bar waxing their balls about how well they'd be able to run it on their own.

Wrong. Granted, it's not hard to someone like me who does this sort of thing for a living, but managing backups was way out of their league. The backups weren't even running, though they remained blissfully unaware of this fact, and setting up network shares/user permissions was beyond their capability. This ended up costing them way more than ever needed to spend to get what amounted to a file server up and running, and I blame this on bad marketing.

Oh, we tried to convince them to sell their ridiculously overpowered server equipment before it depreciated in value, but they were insistent on using it, because it's Apple.

Misleading marketing like this is exactly what drives the borderline masochistic relationship Apple nuts have with Apple. All I can do is shake my head.

Re:Bold claim... (5, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814317)

As an admin on a mix mac/linux network(well, we do have to support 4 pcs, but only grudingly), I would say that Apple's tools are pretty nice, and have progressed immensely during the lifespan of Leopard(Tigers Open Directory was buggy as hell, Leopard has been pretty rock solid), the GUIs actually work really well UNTIL something goes wrong. Then trying to wade through the mish-mash of manual configs vs. gui configs(not to mention you don't really know what the GUI is doing) trying to track down the problem is a real mess.

Overall, if you want centralized logins at your mac-centric organization I would definitely recommend a Mac Server, largely because LDAP config on Linux still isn't quite as simple as it is on a mac, but for everything else(web, database, file shares etc.) I would go Linux.

The nice thing about the mac clients is that they support most of these technologies out of the box. For instance sharing NFS between macs and Linux is pretty braindead simple. Of course, that *other* OS still doesn't support NFs out of the box. I mean, I guess you have to give them a little slack, the protocol is only 20 years old....

Re:Bold claim... (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814575)

The security-skepticism in the summary doesn't seem like it'll necessarily be borne out, either. It depends on how well Apple's thought through all the options, but a decent hand-holding interface to powerful software can often help ensure that the common case (the clueless user) ends up with a sane/secure setup.

Re:Bold claim... (0)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814645)

Hey, I believe that. When you don't have the assistance of someone that actually knows what they're doing (ie: you have no idea what you're doing), then everything will seem perfectly fine until you realize your emails aren't going out or your ftp users can't connect.

For those who need a server... (5, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814029)

that focuses primarily on the visual aesthetics of the physical box that it's housed in.

Re:For those who need a server... (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814139)

I rather like the really small form factor. Given that it comes with OS X Server (which costs $499 by itself), I think it's a pretty decent deal for those who want an OS X Server machine for a small office.

Re:For those who need a server... (3, Insightful)

Again (1351325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814267)

I rather like the really small form factor. Given that it comes with OS X Server (which costs $499 by itself), I think it's a pretty decent deal for those who want an OS X Server machine for a small office.

Me too. I don't see this becoming hugely popular as any business with a large IT department can just throw together a small server if that is what they need but I can see that this mini server hits the sweet spot for a fair number of small businesses.

Re:For those who need a server... (3, Interesting)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814503)

Yeah, or universities and such in need of a budget supercomputer. You can easily create a cluster of these things by using Xgrid [apple.com] and because of the small form factor, you won't have to reserve an entire room for this setup.

Or if you do have a room to spare, you can cram insane amounts of gigahertzes and terabytes in there for relatively little money.

Re:For those who need a server... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814153)

There are other factors worth considering.... low power usage, form factor (you cram a lot of these in a rack), its backed by a large company. Even if you plan to run BSD or Linux as your OS, its the best choice because Dell and HP don't have comparable offerings

Re:For those who need a server... (-1, Troll)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814691)

LOL, "backed by a large company" "even if you plan to run BSD or Linux as your OS". Wow, just wow. Hands up who thinks Apple is going to offer ANY support to someone running a BSD/Linux on a Mac Mini Server?!?

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814181)

Small offices might need that. I have seen offices that are designed to look real slick. However there is a bulky PC as a server in the corner. If you have a nice Mac Mini on a desk or behind a flat screen doing the work for the small office. Hey it would be worth it as for a small business your appearance is very important.

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814497)

Yeah there are plenty of wall-mount brackets already available for the mini, people could just mount these next to where their modem is installed or in a small cupboard. Ideal for small offices, quiet and unobtrusive.

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814755)

You've seen offices that don't have 20 whole square feet of closet to put phone equipment, modems, wiring, punch down panels? Really?

Re:For those who need a server... (1, Redundant)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814193)

It's not so much about the looks (a Mac Mini doesn't even look that good, I mean, it's just a white box), but the size! You can cramp LOADS of those things in a small space and have massive storage and crunching power without needing an entire room.

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814519)

They are not a white box, they're the same type of brushed aluminum as the Macbook Pros, with plastic white top. The metal makes it look rather nice (and way out of place on my fake-wood desk)

amen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814793)

steve jobs, sieg hail!!!

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814229)

Right, because its small size and quiet operation are purely aesthetic features. I hope you realize that this makes a competent source control and/or build server for a small development team, such as one that builds iPhone apps.

Re:For those who need a server... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814479)

Back in the day, any random PC could be a competent cvs/build server for a small development team.

I knew a guy that had a Linux box doing this job long enough without trouble that he forgot how he had set it up.

Smaller PCs are legion. Even cheap mini-sized systems are abundant now.

Once you contemplate all the other possibilities, and consider that you
may not need something terribly pretty, this thing isn't really that
exciting.

Apple should just drop the cliff pricing on the Server version of MacOS.

Re:For those who need a server... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814343)

Not all together. If you want an OS/X server this is your cheapest option. As for looks well being small is a nice feature as well as a low power draw. For a SOHO setup it is a plus but frankly it looks like your only choice for a none rackmount OS/X server.
Now putting Linux on one seems really odd but to each their own.

Re:For those who need a server... (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814397)

Actually any mac will run OS X server, the big difference is that you have to pony over $500 to load OS X server on the non-XServe(and now this box) machines. You could run OS X server from a macbook air if you really wanted to.

12.5mm drives? Teardown? DP audio? (1)

twitchingbug (701187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814047)

Really interested to see a teardown of this guy.

12.5mm 2.5" drives?

and waiting for DisplayPort audio to be enabled.

Re:12.5mm drives? Teardown? DP audio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814699)

It won't be that interesting: they just put a hard drive where the DVD drive used to be.

Servers are by activity not size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814059)

Servers are a computer role, not the size of the box. Would you say a router running Linux and serving files is a server?

Re:Servers are by activity not size (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814173)

Yes, I would. It wouldn't be capable of supporting the same load that a quad-core box could, but it would be a server nonetheless. What about really small virtual machines (say, 64 MB single proc VMs) doing server tasks?

Re:Servers are by activity not size (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814175)

Exactly, What is a server but a glorified workstation that runs a service of some sort.

Mac fanboys get trolled (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814063)

Lol the snow leopard melts in his own shit.

My macbook nano wheel just got scratched and my non removable battery won't charge.

*GASP* serve content from a Mac Mini?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814085)

Fkn hell. Yes, it's doable, you dumb, inefficient, wasteful "enterprise class" f****ts.

I am a Mac Fan... (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814099)

But OS X for a server, is rather lame. OS X is a Desktop OS
Windows is kinda mediocre for both Desktop and Server but gets the job done.
Using Linux for normal desktop use for normal actives is just doing extra work... However it is perfect for a server.

Sure they can all do the Job as a Server and Desktop and they have their variants which make them a bit better at it. However OS X even being Unix Based doesn't make it a good server. It might make it a reliable server just as long as you do what Apple want you to do with it.

Re:I am a Mac Fan... (2, Informative)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814375)

Actually, I have heard some great things about OSX server. You do realize at the core its just BSD, which makes some great servers. And if your going to have a GUI, why not the OSX gui rather than xwindows.

I compare OSX server to Windows Server, a bunch of crap running on top of a decent network operating system. If I had to choose between the two, I'd probably choose OSX if my environment needed a single file server for a mixed OS network.

For a small workgroup, it has a lot to offer for centralization and system management, similar to having windows machines in an AD environment. See http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/features/ [apple.com]

Re:I am a Mac Fan... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814811)

Its operating system is Mach. Its operating environment is based on FreeBSD and its GUI is based on NeXTSTEP. A stock standard OS X machine is not running any FreeBSD tools 99.99% of the time except at boot or some configuration stages. There is also some FreeBSD code added in some of the Mach layers.

Re:I am a Mac Fan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814737)

Using Linux for normal desktop use for normal actives is just doing extra work... However it is perfect for a server.

Linux is FAR from perfect for a server. Using OS X for your servers saves you time, money and effort. OS X is faster, more stable, more secure and JUST WORKS. Can you say ZFS kiddies? I thought you could. This Mini server is pretty much going to be the death blow to Linux being used by small businesses and individuals in their homes. At this point the only reason you would pick Linux is if your time has no value or if you are a neckbeard freetard zealot.

Scoff? (4, Informative)

aicrules (819392) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814111)

Why scoff at a nice looking server that adds to the array of options you have for serving whatever you may want to serve? Sure, it may not be the right thing to rack-mount en mass (though maybe it would work fine for that too), but it'd be a safe bet to say that Apple isn't trying to take over the rack-mounted server market with this particular offering. Those who would scoff would merely be scoffing at a misuse of the product.

Re:Scoff? (4, Funny)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814357)

If someone made a miniature rack mount for these guys, you could have a bunch of them sitting on your desk as though it were a scale model of a server room.

Re:Scoff? (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814427)

it'd be a safe bet to say that Apple isn't trying to take over the rack-mounted server market with this particular offering.

Apple already has a rank-mounted server called the Xserve for this purpose.

Re:Scoff? (3, Insightful)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814743)

Apple already has a rank-mounted server called the Xserve for this purpose.

For the price of one Xserve you could get 3 Mini's loaded with 10.6 Server. So if you don't need a beefcake Xeon, why not?

Re:Scoff? (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814529)

Seriously, this thing could be a nice little Subversion/backup/collaboration server for a small iPhone development shop. With built-in CalDAV, email, wiki, svn, time machine, rsync, web server, etc., it's a nice little small workgroup server. It would be nice if they could have made it cost a little less, but having a small, quiet server in a home or small office is pretty valuable.

Home server (2, Insightful)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814683)

... Sure, it may not be the right thing to rack-mount en mass (though maybe it would work fine for that too), but it'd be a safe bet to say that Apple isn't trying to take over the rack-mounted server market with this particular offering. ...

Yup, I'd agree with you. I consider myself a Linux guy, but I have a Mac Mini at home. I originally bought it so I could push stuff I purchased from iTunes to my iPod (and I still use it for that.) I have it plugged into my TV via VGA, and use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse.

Mostly though, it's a convenient backup server for the Linux laptops in our home, using rsync over ssh. It's great, and fits conveniently on a shelf next to my TV.

I think Apple hopes to do similar business with a Mac Mini Server. There's no optical drive, so I'm curious about that ... but if you want to set up a small server in your home, I'm sure Apple would love to sell you this thing. Small, fits on a shelf, great for home use.

I don't see this being used at the office, unless someone works in a small business (less than 100 people) that doesn't have their own server room, and wants to set up a small web server or file server.

Only posers would scoff... (1, Flamebait)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814115)

Undoubtedly, many in the IT community will scoff at the thought of calling such a device a 'server.'

I'm not familiar with this exact device, but the premise of the statement is rife with inexperience. You cannot look at the physical characteristics of a thing and say 'that is not a server'. It may not be a 'good server', but 'server' is certainly possible based on this simple test:

          Does it primarily offer services to people using another machine for their interface?

If yes, 'server'.

If yes, but someone is using it as an interface, that's 'server being used as an interface'. (Which is bad, by the way.)

If no, not primarily, that's 'workstation with shares'. (Also bad, but less so.)

Its all about the purpose, not the form factor. Lets not forget, the cell phone in my pocket is more powerful than the first 'server' I was ever asked to admin.

Stay around long enough, and you'll soon be able to say the same.

Re:Only posers would scoff... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814351)

"Servers" generally have things that make it robust and easier maintain
and easier to put into a rack in a colo somewhere. This includes things
like hot swap drive bays, hardware RAID and multiple power supplies.
This is the sort of thing that separates a Dell "server" or a Sun "server"
from desktop machines.

I can take a clone crapbox and do the same thing with it (and have).

I can take a regular mini and load a server OS on it (and have).

If Apple didn't overprice their Server Distribution to begin with,
there would be really little point to this particular configuration.

Re:Only posers would scoff... (1)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814571)

...except that you can actually do (software) RAID-1 on this Mini, and not the original, without an external drive.

Re:Only posers would scoff... (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814765)

Doing RAID without swappable drives is INSANE.

Have you gone inside of a mini? I have. I can't imagine
any of the pretentious types that would buy this sort of
machine would appreciate the experience.

I don't even like to go inside of "normal PCs" for
futzing around with drives. That why my "big boxes"
all have hotswap trays for the bulk storage. Even a
case intended to be worked on poses a potential for
disaster.

This is why "real servers" and storage arrays have
things like externally exposed hot swap drive bays.

This mini exposes the limitations of the current mini
form factor and highlights why they need something else.

A "double wide" mini with room for cardbus slots or the
aforementioned hotswap bays could be quite cool in this
respect without sacrificing much in the way of the current
visual coolness.

Re:Only posers would scoff... (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814671)

Wait, Apple overprices their server distro? The cheapest version of Windows Server that I could find was 2003 R2 Standard, which is $1000 for five seats. OS X Server is $500 for unlimited seats.

Of course compared to a Free Unix/Linux box both are overpriced, but if spending five hundred bucks saves your sysadmin a couple of hours tinkering around (it may or may not - I have very little experience with OS X Server and no experience as a sysadmin), it's paid for itself.

Re:Only posers would scoff... (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814555)

Well, my Desktop in college was also a server, in that it hosted an openssh-server as well as apache2 which I often used to grab files stored in my room while I was around campus. I still don't think it really qualified as a server any more than I'd expect this thing to.

Obligatory quote in accordance with social norms (4, Funny)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814149)

That's not a knife.. THIS is a knife (pulling out Kabar-based server)

How easy is it to set up an open relay mail server (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814185)

...on one of these. If it's a no-brainer, point-and-click affair I'm in. I've got this Xerox copier that is a fantastic B&W scanner - the problem is that they only allow scanning to email. And the email server can't require any authentication. I'm not kidding. The first time I set it up the Xerox s/w support guy walked me through getting it connected, verifying the old exchange box I used would take an unauthenticated telnet session to send an email. When that machine died, I decided I could by a new scanner for less than a MS Exchange license (it was tied to the dead pc). I tried ubuntu and slack on a small box, but couldn't quite get the two to talk.

For $500, I might try again.

(FWIW, the scanner can do 20-30 sheets a minute, and also does 11x17 duplex and mixed originals...not you're run-of-the-mill $200 AIO machine)

Re:How easy is it to set up an open relay mail ser (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814301)

You can easily set up Exim on Debian to accept all mail from your LAN without authentication. Set up a local VM that accepts the mail and forwards it on to your real mail server.

Spammers everywhere... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814429)

...are thanking you for that question.

If these catch on, and are too easily left as open relays, we'll see shortly after a spike in development of botnet software for Snow Leopard. Considering how many of these will likely be left on 24x7, they would be ideal mail relay zombies for botnet operators and spammers.

Bravo to the Mac Mini Server (2, Insightful)

dUN82 (1657647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814203)

Go and check out how much a so called 'windows home server' cost and is like on the market, what's the argument here? Mac mini server is a brilliant idea, and it is what a lot of mac mini users is doing with it.

Great Idea (2, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814211)

I love the idea of a Mac Mini server for many tasks. If you just need a server for directory, file, and print stuff, this is a damn good idea, especially if you're constrained for space. Even if you're not, most small offices don't have huge IT setups... many just use a business-grade cable or DSL connection with a small router. This is the perfect kind of server for that kind of small office setup. I don't think Apple anticipates anyone running heavy SQL on this or anything. This is also a good way to test the waters to see how much of a market there really is for OSX Server. Bravo to Apple on this one. It's a few more bucks than a PC equivalent (no surprise there), but a typically elegant-while-useful idea that Apple is sometimes famous for.

Welcome to the party... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814221)

Meh. Some of us already use boxes like this (or actual minis) in this sort of capacity.

Once you install a robust OS on a bit of hardware, the whole desktop/server distinction is entirely arbitrary.

A solution in search of a problem (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814225)

people can set up relatively sophisticated services without the assistance of someone who actually knows what they are doing

I have never in my experiences encountered that problem; someone who wanted a server but didn't want it to be set up by a knowledgable person - or even worse wanted to set it up themselves without knowing what they were doing.

I know I for one would never want to board an aircraft being piloted by someone with a similarly cavalier attitude towards working knowledge.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814469)

I have never in my experiences encountered that problem; someone who wanted a server but didn't want it to be set up by a knowledgable person - or even worse wanted to set it up themselves without knowing what they were doing.

I've had a few nice little short term contracts from people like that... or at least ones ones who only thought they were knowledgeable.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814601)

Yeah, any non-technical person setting one of these things up is going to feel real stupid when the server blows up and kills everyone in their office. People just don't realize that computers are serious business, and should only be operated by experts.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814679)

Ie, the world owes Flying Bishop a living.

Finally! (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814245)

I am certainly no Mac fanboi... In fact my only Mac runs Linux. But I can just imaging a simple plug-and-play file server that damn near sets itself up, has some redundancy, has built in monitoring and alerting, and hopefully integrates directly with Time Machine so that you can configure a simple backup system with versioning.

If this works as well as Apple's products have been known to do, it should save a lot of people a lot of headaches when it comes to backup and recovery.

only one thing missing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814265)

Software worth runnning on the cute lil' box :)

Where'd they fit in that second drive? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814277)

Answer - by not including the DVD drive in the box.

I think this could be a useful little box for most of the sorts of things people set up home servers to do. At least they are using the 5400rpm drives instead of the 4200rpm versions.

Snow Leopard is not a "true UNIX" (1, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814399)

Snow Leopard Server (a true, if highly GUI-fied, UNIX server)

That's not true. The UNIX trademark is handled by the Open Group. Only if they say it's UNIX, it's UNIX. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (for Intel) is UNIX [opengroup.org]. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is not. The Server version also doesn't have a certification.

Sure, it's Unix-like. It might even comply with the Single Unix Specification. But it's not a true UNIX until the Open Group says it is.

I've done this for years.... (4, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814423)

I put OS 10.4-Server (10-Client version) on a Mac Mini back in 2006 and continued to pick up used mac minis for less than $200 each to play around with Xgrid. Eventually I moved the server over to an old dual core PowerMac G4 tower and used all the Mac Minis as render nodes, but it was a fun little project and worked extremely well for rendering blender, compressor, and Final Cut projects. I even put screamernet II on them for lightwave rendering as well. I had about $4500 invested in the project, the price of a decent Macpro, and had a distributed rendering grid.

With the release of some tools like Xgrid Lite, there wasn't the need to go with the full blown Server version of OSX in OS 10.5 or 10.6. Everything I needed could be downloaded with the xserve remote admin kit and a default install of OSX.

But for the year or more I used the Mac Mini as a home server, it worked extremely well. It just sat on the bookshelf and frankly I just ignored it 90% of the time because it did exactly what it needed. I'd log in every month or so to do updates, etc. But it was pretty much turn on and forget. Plus it didn't suck down as much power as the PowerMac. Something I learned once I moved out of an apartment with the utilities included and into my house.

Apple & BTO are frenemies (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814467)

Unfortunately, they don't give you the option to use the slower CPU with the mini server option, or give you the option to use SSDs. I'd also like to see an eSATA port and a 2nd ethernet port, for the server build, anyway. Perhaps an Xserve mini? It'll be interesting to see these once they're updated with Core i5/i7 processors. At least they have decent discrete graphics now. Are the CPUs still soldered in, though?

2nd Ethernet Port (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814751)

Apple will sell you (£20.00 here in the UK) a USB to Ethernet adapter.
I have a Mac Mini (allbeit running Fedora 11) setup just like this as my main system Firewall & DNS, DHCP Server.
I also have another PPC (bought off Ebay) that acts as my main fileserver. I have a Lacie Firewire Drive that is the same formfactor attached.

Good be great (1)

cppmonkey (615733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814471)

Heck for a tiny little 6 person company like mine this thing could be great. Only one problem... the local telco hates the idea of competition and thus blocks low ports so as to keep small companies from cost effectively hosting in house.  Sure the D&E sales guy said he could offer me a static ip for $1200+ a month but still not allowed to host on ports 25 or 80 and hey their $25/month IIS + Exchange hosting with no uptime guarantee is such a great deal right so why don't I do that? So as much as I'd like to bring things in house I think we'll have to keep using keep using Dreamhost.

Re:Good be great (0, Troll)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814587)

the local telco hates the idea of competition and thus blocks low ports so as to keep small companies from cost effectively hosting in house.

Are you living in a communist country where competition is prohitibed by the government or something? Why don't you just drop your ISP and move to someone who does provide you with the service you require?

Been Doing this for Some Time (1)

Torrance (1599681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814507)

I already have an old G4 Mac Mini sitting in the corner of my lounge. It's running Debian and hosts a number of community websites without a problem, is a permanent torrent server and hosts several code repos. It runs perfectly fine for these sorts of jobs. Plus, it's virtually unnoticeable with just a power cord and an ethernet cable connected to it. Personally, I love it.

MythTV (1)

Nobo (606465) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814539)

In a bizarre twist, they are now also offering a Mac mini with Mac OS X Server bundled in, along with a two hard drives somehow stuffed into the tiny package.

Uh. Hello? Ideal MythTV box?

Re:MythTV (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814641)

Nah...

Get an ION (revo or asrock) for the frontend and a "custom" built clone
with more CPUs and storage for the backend. You can easily get a pre-built
box made to specs with Quad Cores and room for a 5xSATA chassis for the
same price as a regular mini.

1TB just doesn't cut it for a HD PVR. HD Video just takes up too much space.

ION kind of stole the mini's thunder when it comes to the living room.

Goodbye lin-sux! And good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814545)

Finally, I can eliminate the last vestiges of crappy open sores software from my home network. This is pretty much the death of Linux in what few end user roles it has ever held.

Unfortunately it only has one ethernet jack (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814569)

which is probably the biggest thing wrong with the server machine. A lot of servers that we run use both jacks that standard in all rackmountables. I guess you could use the wifi or buy an ethernet USB dongle.....

5400 RPM Drives (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814585)

In some ways this is very cool, but the drives are 5400 RPM and I don't think are server rated. (In other words, this is not really "server class" - but 3 or 4 of them racked together might be.

Please note, BTW, that X Server is not quite the same as Mac OS X. Close, but not the same.

Re:5400 RPM Drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29814779)

I wonder if they could be replaced with a notebook flash drive instead? They'd be more expensive, of course.

Now they just need iPhoto server. (2, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814595)

Imagine a small home/workgroup server like this, but with iPhoto support so that everyone can share a photo database.

OSX server includes an iCalendar server, Address Book server, Mail Server, iChat server... so they have every other server component that a Mac Centric office would need, why no iPhoto server?

Passive-aggressive mice (1, Offtopic)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814615)

Apple continues their damned war against mouse buttons.

I have two Macs, and both of them have Microsoft's low end optical mouse connected... the best product Microsoft have put their name on since Xenix. I tried using the Mighty Mouse, and I've tried getting used to the two-finger tap on my Macbook Pro, and they just don't work for me. For example, I hold my mouse in three fingers, with two fingers resting on the buttons. I press with my middle or index finger, to click. On the Mighty Mouse this results in it being interpreted as a left click no matter which one I apply pressure with. On this mouse... who knows?

Re:Passive-aggressive mice (1, Offtopic)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814661)

Apple continues their damned war against mouse buttons.

As long as people remember who Steve Jobs is or was, Apple will not even think about putting more than one button on a mouse and rather leave that one button off as well.

This is a wonderful product for the small business (1)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814637)

this reminds me of NT Small Business Server edition from so long ago (does it even exist anymore?) I know this is going to sound like MS bashing (which isn't my intent), but I would dare say that this is what MS was trying to do with SBS, but done right and easily packed into a nice little box. The only drawback I can see is at the end user point and no superdrive/dvd/cd for re-installing the whole OS if needed. Granted there are many ways either via target disk, disk image, remote desktop, etc but a lot of those functions are exactly intuitive to most people who may see this as a sort of turnkey solution to their small business needs. Hopefully they will be knowledgeable enough to hire someone to setup/troubleshoot the system when needed. Working with OS X Server, I can see some great advantages for those running an apple based environment. We're a small business and a while back we went with an Xserve to meet our requirements. It was a bit overkill (it still is) but the expectation is that it will last a hell of a long time with minimal maintenance. Which, knock on wood, it has.

Why scoff at calling this a server? (1, Insightful)

Britz (170620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814651)

This Mac mini has more power than most servers had a couple years ago. Is a HTPC serving all your multimedia needs in your home (mp3s, videos, pictures) a server, or do you also need to use it as a file server? Microsoft has been advertising the concept of a home server for a couple years. What is blurred here?
I got a 10 year old dsl router from ebay for 5 bucks to use as a print server. 10 of those things would have less computing power than my last cellphone (my current one actually has the same computing power as my last computer). And I call it a server.

Has the guy who wrote this ever typed anything into a command line?

However, with the robust capabilities of my butt I will surely find a niche on my couch...

Real shot is at Microsoft for small business... (4, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814673)

For small business purposes, Microsoft server offerings are horrid. Windows Server OEM price! is $800, and then there is the whole "client access liscence" crap where until you pay even more if you want more than 5 computers to talk to your server!

This, on the other hand, is a complete system for $1000, thats silent (so you can have it in your office, suprisingly important!), doesn't have client access liscence crap, and can support a bunch of windows systems as well as macs for file sharing, email, calendaring if you want to use Mozilla rather than Outlook, etc etc etc.... Don't have enough storage for your liking? Simply add a 4 TB external USB array for $800...

Its a really brutal product to deal with if you are Microsoft.

Server Farm (2, Informative)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814697)

The mac mini is already in use in server farms. Apparently it's size and low power consumption make it a good candidate in a server farm. Check it out yourself:

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/13019/Mac+Mini+Server+Farm.html

Blurred Lines? (0)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814719)

Lets get this straight. There are no blurred lines here. This is a desktop box running a server OS. There are no blurred lines here. This is absolutely not data center level hardware. What kind of server has audio jacks, mini dvi ports, fire wire ports, and mini display ports? Just because I can run Linux, MySQL, and Apache on a mini-ITX system doesn't mean that said system is all of a sudden going to start showing up in data centers. Lets make this very clear... This is a desktop system running a server OS.

Compared it to the Cobalt Qube.. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29814773)

The Mac Mini Server goes for a grand, with four gigs of RAM, and 1TB of disk, Core 2 Duo processor at 2.53Ghz.

The Cobalt Qube 3 sold for $1149 in 2002 (inflation adjusted, that's about $1367 today), with a 450 Mhz MIPS CPU, 40 gigs of disk, and 32 megs of RAM.

Looks like Apple's going to pick up a lot of business in the niche that Sun abandoned.

-jcr

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