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Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground

timothy posted about a year ago | from the if-you-can't-see-it-is-it-beautiful? dept.

Apple 367

Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2005, the first business to offer colocated Mac Minis inside a data center made its debut, provoking criticism on Slashdot of everything from how the Mini was cooled to the underlying business model. But nowadays, more than half a dozen facilities are either hosting their own Mac Minis for rent, or offering colocation services for individual consumers and businesses. While some vendors declined to give out reliability information, those who did claimed a surprisingly small number of failures. 'If Dell makes a small little machine, you don't know that they'll be making that, in that form factor, six months down the road, or what they're going to do, or how they're going to refresh it,' Jon Schwenn, a network engineer for CyberLynk Networks (which owns Macminivault) said in an interview. 'We've had three model years of Minis that have stayed externally, physically identical.' Customers are using Minis for all sorts of things: providing Mail, iCal, and the Websites for small businesses; databases, like Filemaker or Daylite; as a VPN server for those who want an IP address in the United States; build servers for Xcode; and general personal servers for Plex media streaming and other fun projects. Some are even using it for Windows."

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367 comments

And the moral of the story is: (4, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43050987)

Customers are using Minis for all sorts of things: ... Some are even using it for Windows.

I guess the moral of the story is "beauty is only skin deep".

Re:And the moral of the story is: (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year ago | (#43051445)

Customers are using Minis for all sorts of things: ... Some are even using it for Windows.

I guess the moral of the story is "beauty is only skin deep".

Also, seven (7!) whole companies are offering colocation and/or hosting services for mac minis!

I'd ask why it was news, but it was slashcloud so expectations are very low.

Re:And the moral of the story is: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051667)

7! isn't bad, that's just over five-thousand.

Re:And the moral of the story is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051469)

No, the moral of the story is "Pay Dice some money and they'll put your product on the front page of Slashdot".

This isn't news for nerds, it's Apple marketing to other marketing drones.

becasue Apple never (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43050993)

just changs things.

HAHAHA. NO I kid. Apple changes thing without notice all the time.

Re:becasue Apple never (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051123)

What part of "stayed externally, physically identical" are you failing to understand?

Yes, of course they change things all the time, but the article was referring to the external form factor for the mini, which hasn't really changed much in years even if the ports and guts have changed quite a bit. The last significant revision was 2010.

Re:becasue Apple never (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051397)

yes cause visual aesthetics is number one when choosing a server

fuck off

Re:becasue Apple never (4, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#43051501)

You realize that hosting companies actually need to care about the physical dimensions of the machines they are hosting? They don't just leave a few PC towers in the corner of a room and call it a day.

Re:becasue Apple never (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051613)

Oh, we don't? Bwwhahaha *evil cackle* *rubs hands together vigorously*

Re:becasue Apple never (1)

franciscohs (1003004) | about a year ago | (#43051661)

The only reason they have to care about physical dimensions is because it's not a machine that is intended to be on a DC!!, for any other machine, there is a standard: 1u, 2u, 3u, etc... (yes, some servers can go deeper than others in the rack, but that's usually not a problem)

Re:becasue Apple never (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051453)

I guss he didn't understand the relationship between 3 years and the last time they changed the spec on a 1u rack.

Re:becasue Apple never (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43051159)

It's technology. Of course it's going to change.

The question is whether Apple will continue their product line. Many companies (Sony comes to mind immediately) tend to release highly inconsistent one-off products instead of improving a line of products in the long run.

The slam on Dell seems a little strange though, since they tend to have more consistent product lines than a lot of tech companies.

Re:becasue Apple never (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43051303)

Apple has radically changed direction without telling people for it's entire existence.

Re:becasue Apple never (5, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | about a year ago | (#43051361)

Well, what do you expect. It's not a story, it's an ad.

Re:becasue Apple never (3, Insightful)

rs79 (71822) | about a year ago | (#43051369)

Plus, anyone that thinks you can have a server without ECC hasn't been doing this very long and needs to be yelled at by both Wietse Venema and Dan Bernstein.

And if you have to ask which Dan you really have no business running a server.

Re:becasue Apple never (5, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43051609)

Depends on its intended purpose. You can use desktop hardware as a "server"' if it's nothing mission critical. The complete understanding that you have no redundancy or data integrity and your willing to weigh the cost risk as a business decision. Sometimes failure is cheaper than uptime.

Re:becasue Apple never (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051619)

Oh noes! A cosmic ray might hit someone's five user FileMaker database. Hopefully they turned on "time machine".

Re:becasue Apple never (1, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43051411)

Not to mention Apple cancels products no different than any other company, they also make drastic changes, just like any other company. I'd say the real moral of the story is short of DIY, where you just take a shell and put in what you need, you are truly at the mercy of the company and I don't care if that's Apple, Google, MSFT, Dell, whomever, its all the same.

Personally I'd be very surprised if Apple even stays in the X86 business, when you look at cost VS profit X86 takes more work for less reward than any other branch at Apple. With the consumer lines they don't really have to refresh except when they need the "bounce" that comes from a new product,after all the iPods and iPads from previous generation still sell just fine. With X86 even though the X86 MHz war is over both Intel and AMD do a hell of a lot of chip turnover and folks will only pay top dollar for older X86 tech for so long so there a refresh is mandatory and really out of their hands.

So when you add this to the fact that Apple loves having control of the pipe (who wouldn't, its just smart business) short of Apple buying AMD (doubtful) I frankly would be surprised if Apple was selling X86 based products in 5 years. More likely at some point they'd tout some ARM multi-core with keyboard snap on (ala the Asus Transformer) as the "future of Macs" and kill the X86 line, it just doesn't fit well with their current business strategy.

Re:becasue Apple never (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43051549)

Personally I'd be very surprised if Apple even stays in the X86 business, when you look at cost VS profit X86 takes more work for less reward than any other branch at Apple.

And their division that shows the greatest reward for the least expense is their legal department.

So if you follow that logic, by 2016 they will be strictly a patent trolling company.

Re:becasue Apple never (1, Informative)

node 3 (115640) | about a year ago | (#43051579)

More likely at some point they'd tout some ARM multi-core with keyboard snap on (ala the Asus Transformer) as the "future of Macs" and kill the X86 line, it just doesn't fit well with their current business strategy.

No. How is it you can spout this nonsense for years now, and still think it makes any sense? I'm sure that Apple is constantly assessing their use of Intel chips, and is looking at ARM-based Macs, but there's no way they are going to completely switch to ARM unless they can make better ARM Macs than they can Intel Macs, and that day is not coming any time soon.

It's definitely possible, but you take a silly axiom (that Apple must control everything), and apply it to absurd extremes (that Apple will kill the Mac to make it wholly controlled by them).

You're drunk hairyfeet, go home.

Apple mini-Server V2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051003)

Apple should make a similar but slightly larger form factor server, for cooling, with dual Haswell chips.

A new fad? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051053)

Is this a new fad or something? Some tweaker rolled into my office wanting to know if we did consulting for setting up a webserver on an apple platform. We only did windows/linux. I questioned him on why he wouldnt just use a linux box for webhosting? He didnt have an answer.

Is this just some hipster fad? Finding a use for old Apple boxes? Or do they offer something that linux/windows hosting doesn't?

Re:A new fad? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051135)

this just some hipster fad? Finding a use for old Apple boxes? Or do they offer something that linux/windows hosting doesn't?

With the Minis, if you need more capacity of any kind, you just add a mini. And at $999 for the iMac Mini with OS X Server [apple.com] , you get a powerful machine with a small form factor and it produces a lot less heat.

Also, a regular Linux box makes a lot of noise. So the mini would make a great media server - Plex or something.

Re:A new fad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051309)

Linux is an OS, there is no "Linux box" there are only boxes with Linux running on them. Get a (quieter|cheaper|more capacity) box, and put Linux on it.

Re:A new fad? (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43051379)

Like a Mac Mini?

Re:A new fad? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43051473)

There are machines that are extremely similar to the capabilities of Mac Mini, only they're cheaper...

Now there would be a reasonable use for these if they used MacOS specific apps perhaps. Or maybe the customer knows how MacOS works and doesn't want to deal with having to learn Linux or Windows. Probably they've already been using a Mac for a server for some time and want to host in an external data center instead.

Re:A new fad? (3, Insightful)

durdur (252098) | about a year ago | (#43051349)

$999 is not really a bargain price considering what is in the box. As with other Apple hardware you are paying a premium for the Apple brand.

Re:A new fad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051351)

If you're a troll, Great Job! It worked.

Re:A new fad? (0, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43051153)

Or do they offer something that linux/windows hosting doesn't?

Well, genuine Unix for one thing.

Re:A new fad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051337)

Why isn't this spammer modded down? The only "genuine" part of OS X bing unix is about money changing hands. In fact, why are all the little advertisers modded up? U8MyData right below: vapid, insignificant comment: "buy more Apple! I'd love to!" And for some reason "interesting". It's spam.

Re:A new fad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051367)

Sorry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_UNIX_Specification#Compliance

OSX is on a technical basis no more Unix than Linux is.

On a usage basis, Linux is FAR more on par with the Unix philosophy than Macs are.

Re:A new fad? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051417)

LIES! OS X is NOT UNIX. It's sorta-kinda-BSD-abomination-whatever-Mach. It's arguably a lot less UNIX than Linux, which is specifically not UNIX. The only UNIXy things about it are the GNU parts, and GNU's Not UNIX.

Just for the record, I say this not as a Windows fanboi, oh no. I say this as an IRIX hardcore aficionado. Now, I will grant you that my DateTime struct is BSD. I admit that, and I apologize for it. But the rest is Bell System V Release 4, the One True Operating System; and I can ASSURE you, my friends, that OS X is emphatically NOT SVR4!

Proof? PROOF? YOU DEMAND PROOF?!

Bring up an OS X box from bare iron. Was fdisk involved? Did you need to bootstrap the thing from sash? Did your disks have slices, not partitions? Did getty enter in to your thinking? Was tar involved? Was it gtar, because THAT DOES NOT COUNT? DO YOU HAVE A FRAME BUFFER INSTALLED, YOU FILTHY HEATHEN? 19200/N/8/1?!?!?!

Nope, none of the above. Your machine goes "bonk" when you fail to enter your home zip code so that Apple can send you valuable offers of future services. If I tried to give a real UNIX box my home zip code so that I could receive valuable offers, it would probably detonate with the fury of a thousand Hiroshimas, AND the kernel would panic.

tl;dr, GTFO my ARPAnet.

Re:A new fad? (4, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051475)

Look at the MacMini specs - latest processor, room for two drives (HDs, SSDs, or a mix), and 16 Gig of RAM. Couple those specifications with relatively low power demands and it makes a nice colo box. You can fit six or eight easily on a 1U shelf, more if you put them on their sides. The colo fees for a MacMini is a fraction of the price of a 1U colo server of more conventional design.

The MacMini is 'good enough' in most regards for a general purpose web server.

Re:A new fad? (2, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | about a year ago | (#43051523)

Is this just some hipster fad? Finding a use for old Apple boxes? Or do they offer something that linux/windows hosting doesn't?

No more so than Windows/Linux offers something that OS X doesn't for small scale deployments like this. It's six of one, half dozen of the other.

I think the main mistake here is in thinking that Apple users are simply hipsters. They are normal people, like you and me. In your example, that person probably uses a Mac, and wants something he can relate to, maybe even maintain himself to some extent, and at the very least, will be configured to be more compatible with his PC than a Linux or Windows server.

And you're doing the same thing, in reverse. You run Windows and Linux, so you prefer your servers to be what you know. It's the same thing he's doing.

They're all just computers, nothing wrong with any of them, even Windows PCs.

Re:A new fad? (5, Interesting)

drosboro (1046516) | about a year ago | (#43051539)

I've got a Mac mini with CyberLynk / Macminivault. What they offer - a dedicated server (albeit, not the most powerful one imaginable, but dedicated nonetheless) with a significantly lower cost than other colocating companies. They even financed the server for me over several months (at 0% interest / fees, if I recall correctly their special at the time). Then, when I got sick of OS X Server (after about 12 minutes), I emailed them, and they went ahead and installed Debian on the Mac mini for me (in fact, I believe it was Jon Schwenn from the article who did it). There was some confusion about how to get it to reboot after power failure under linux, but a little careful googling fixed that. It's been running perfectly ever since.

Long and short of it? I've got a quad-core dedicated Debian server at less than 1/3 the price I used to rent a similar machine for from another company, and close to the price I was paying at the time for a VPN at Slicehost. The service from Jon and his co-workers has been outstanding, the data centre has been reliable (one brief hiccup due to a power issue in the last year and a half). And I'm with you on this point - not quite sure why anyone would really want to run OS X Server.

To their credit (4, Interesting)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year ago | (#43051081)

These are great little machines. I have had two and want another. Oh, and I am agnostic when it comes to these things, but I do give credit where credit is due.

Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (5, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43051105)

Even the "server" version of the Mac Mini does not support ECC RAM [apple.com] . Many other important server-grade features, such as IPMI, are also missing. Why would anyone choose this over cheaper, more robust commodity PC server hardware? You can't even plead cosmetics, because it's a freaking server; it goes in a rack somewhere and only a handful of IT staff ever need to see it. The only possible reason I can think of why someone would want to run an OSX server is if they were going to be remote-accessing it to run Xcode for iOS development. What else can you do on OSX that you can't do on Windows or Linux?

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43051127)

YOU can say "We use OSX."
Marketing, it's what makes Apple strong.

Only because you are a Mac fan (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#43051161)

That's the only reason. Apple won't allow for OS-X to be virtualized on non-Mac hardware. vSphere would be perfectly capable of handling it, VMWare has their software on Mac, has Mac integration tools, etc but Apple won't allow it. So if you want OS-X in your datacenter, you have to buy a Mac and since there is no Xserve anymore it is a mini or a pro. Well the pros are really expensive, and quite large (like 4U if you got mounting hardware) so Minis it is.

There really isn't a good reason in most cases, but then fanboys have never needed a good reason. We had a case where people asked for it. A department hired some fairly clueless ex-students that have a "web consulting company" to make a site for them. Said students are Maccies. They wanted a Mac server, running Wordpress to develop on. We said you can have Wordpress (though we tried to talk them out of it) on Apache on Linux because that's what our sites run, we aren't buying a Mac server for you.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43051275)

I see. You object to people using the tool that they know how to use, and insist they use your preferred tool instead. That's pretty typical of IT Admin types.

It also explains one of the reasons for the success of the Mac Mini Colo companies. People who can set Macs up don't need you anymore. They've developed a solution for a small project on their Mac. Then when they need the bandwidth, get a Colo service to host a Mac Mini for them. They get complete control, using a system they understand well, and have no need for assholes that like to say no. For a very moderate cost.

It's not something for big corporate solutions. But for small companies and individuals it can be exactly what they need.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43051307)

I see. You object to people using the tool that they know how to use, and insist they use your preferred tool instead. That's pretty typical of IT Admin types.

No, I don't think you really do see. He told a story about some people at a university who wanted the IT department to support a unique one-off system, the IT department said no. I guess they could have said yes and handed them a bill for all of the extra overhead involved, but the result would probably have been the same.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051373)

moron...... the story referenced "ex-students"... not "some pople at a university". you're an idiot.

you know who are ex-students? graduates...

a major mac mini advantage is power consumption... my last server averaged 400W... the mini averages 14W.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43051495)

Same difference in corporate world though. If you hire some ex-students to do a job then they will use the equipment that you have. It's not like these ex-students are important people who should get every luxury they ask for. If they can't do it on Linux then there are plenty of other ex-students who can.

As for Mac Mini, there are similar boxes that are not from Apple that do the same thing. The major difference is that you aren't allowed to run OS-X on them.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051629)

moron...... the story referenced "ex-students"... not "some pople at a university". you're an idiot.

Actually the story referenced a "department" which hired some ex-students. Who refers to graduates as ex-students except people at the university where they had graduated from?

Even if it wasn't a university, what difference does it make? The problem is supporting a one-off system - corporate or uni, the IT group is going to have exactly the same reaction.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (2)

otuz (85014) | about a year ago | (#43051287)

They specifically allow OS X Server to be virtualized.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (4, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#43051511)

They specifically allow OS X Server to be virtualized.

... on Mac hardware only. Which brings us back to the matter at hand, needing Mac hardware in order to run Mac software.

Re:Only because you are a Mac fan (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43051339)

"Apple won't allow for OS-X to be virtualized on non-Mac hardware"
The do for servers

"There really isn't a good reason in most cases,"
Becasue it's a system they know? becasue they want an inexpensive box for UNIX? Becasue it's for small business that don't have a budget for a snarky pretend they know everything Linux Admin?

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#43051203)

Its perfectly suitable as a home server if you happened to have an extra one and wanted to use it. But I agree 100% with your post.

There is no rational reason to select a mac mini for a colocated server. Even most of the suggested uses in the summary don't make any sense. Databases should be hosted on linux or windows... even Filemaker can be hosted on windows. Mail servers, calendar servers, etc... a colocated ANYTHING for a VPN server is absurd, and plux media / streaming / etc... again... for the price it just doesn't make sense. For fun / toy servers virtual / shared hosting make sense at a fraction of the cost. Colocating dedidated hardware ?.If you need that... a mac mini make's no sense.

The only people who i could see wanting this are people who simply have no idea how to use another operating system, don't want to learn, and don't mind paying a premium for a substantially inferior server solution.

Sounds like Apple users to me.

(I hate to troll.. but come on that was irresistible, and I say it as a Macbook Pro owner myself.)

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43051359)

"There is no rational reason to select a mac mini for a colocated server. "
It's nice to knwo you know every possible reason soneone could want to do something.
We certinaly wouldn't want some who usis OSX to be able to work with something they knw now, would we?
idiot.
"Databases should be hosted on linux or windows"
why? oh, because its what you like.

". for the price it just doesn't make sense."
they aren't expensive, they run cooler and require less electricity and space.

It isn't a inferior server solution for small business.

"I hate to troll.",
Then don't, asshole.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#43051517)

It's nice to knwo you know every possible reason soneone could want to do something.

Care to suggest a valid reason?

We certinaly wouldn't want some who usis OSX to be able to work with something they knw now, would we?
idiot.

I covered that option. It amounts to paying significantly more for a significantly inferior solution just to avoid learning something new.

why? oh, because its what you like.

No. Because for a small scale database / hobby database / fun database a VPS is far more ecnomical and just as capable. Filemaker on a windows VPS is FAR cheaper than colocating a mac mini. And if you want mysql postgresql or something? colocating a mac is simply idiotic.

they aren't expensive, they run cooler and require less electricity and space.

More expensive than a VPS. More space. More electricity.

If you need more performance and capacity than a VPS will give you, then you need a proper server. A mac mini isn't one.

It isn't a inferior server solution for small business.

A small business doing what? What small business needs to colocate a mac-mini? For what purpose?

Then don't, asshole.

Give me a good example of what a colocated mac mini is actually good for, that doesn't cost quadruple what an alternative solution would cost.

  Spending co-location level costs for an ical server for a small business? That's simply idiotic. You can get hosted ical server for a small business for a YEAR for less than colocating a mac mini for a month. A small Filemaker database for a small business? Same thing... a windows VPS for a year will cost less than a couple months colocating a mac mini. A VPN server so you can have a US ip address?!

Even after you pay an IT consultant to set it up for you because you don't know anything but OSX you are still ahead within a few months.

Show me something that actually makes sense to do with a colocated mac mini.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051527)

A colo provider can put 8 minis in a 1U shelf/tray and split the cost of a 1U server colo across 8 servers, hence monthly colo costs can be 1/8th the price of, say, a colo'd Dell PE1950 (or I liar). Sure, you can achieve the same 'magic' with 8 VMs on a 1U server, but some people really like the idea of dedicated hardware.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (2)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#43051623)

A colo provider can put 8 minis in a 1U shelf/tray

From what I can see 2 mac minis fit in a 1U shelf. The "8 mac mini racks" are 5U.

Sure, you can achieve the same 'magic' with 8 VMs on a 1U server,

Exactly. So ... in 5U, that's 40 VMs -- comfortably. You can likely do even more.

That changes the math considerably.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43051673)

So much this. A VPS is NEVER the same as your own hardware, even hardware as lowly as a mac mini.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about a year ago | (#43051213)

There are several advantages to OS X, but all of the ones I can think of accrue to desktop users only. Examples include that spellcheck is so easy to include in every application that it is everywhere that it makes sense to have it. Versions is also really great for word processing in LaTeX where you could use a versioning system but why here it just works without any interaction by you except to his control-S. There is also the fact that I've never had a Linux box where going back to a sufficiently old OS version makes it essentially not work without lots of messing around with text files to get around the fact that the update software itself has an incompatibility or something is just broken at some point in the updating process.

But again, all that is for the desktop OS.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051241)

I wouldn't run an enterprise off of a Mac mini, but they are certainly a very reliable, cost-effective solution for small or medium-sized businesses.

I run a 2009 Mac mini with a very large amount of services and redundant storage attached. It hasn't had a single failure since I bought it, runs cool, and uses less than 80w of power.

With a good backup, it is cheaper to keep a spare mini around than pay out the teeth for a power hungry server with expensive ECC RAM. You could also set one up as a cold spare or another live unit for failover.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051283)

something something koolaid

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051487)

Low power consumption and form factor together make for very affordable colo fees, a fraction of the price for a more conventional 1U server.

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (0)

node 3 (115640) | about a year ago | (#43051599)

Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server

Yet it's used as a server all the time. So, what's more likely, that those servers are crashing and burning all over the place and people who use them are incompetent? Or that you just have a hard on for Apple and are just fitting the facts to your prejudices?

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43051601)

So unsuitable yet 4chan seems to run on mac minis just fine, eh?

Re:Mac Mini is flagrantly unsuitable as a server (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43051639)

Not every server has to be 'server-grade' in all respects. The advantage here is a BIG PIPE with a cheap, mass produced, sub 1U server whose parameters are extremely well known.Its not 'cosmetics' that make it attractive, its the small size relative to 1U systems. With traditional racks you get a choice of owning the whole 1U or buying slices on other people's machines. Mac mini colo sits in between those points. Love or hate Apple, mac mini colo makes financial sense for a wide spectrum of use cases. Not all servers are equal.

Seriously Underwhelming (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051125)

"more than half a dozen facilities" -> More than 6? Wow!

"have stayed externally, physically identical" -> Amazing! I wish there was a standard for servers, so that I wouldn't have to keep reconfiguring my data center layout.

Jeff

Re:Seriously Underwhelming (2)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about a year ago | (#43051697)

> I wish there was a standard for servers, so that I wouldn't have to keep reconfiguring my data center layout.

I know! The 1U vs. 1Ui is driving me nuts!! Why would anybody think that 1024 mm to the meter would make any sense? Thus a 44.45 mm 1U becomes 45.516 mm in the 1Ui unit!!


(Since this is the Internet, I guess I'll have to put in the small print: This is a joke. It's supposed to be funny).

so. .. (2)

Pubstar (2525396) | about a year ago | (#43051133)

So 7 hosting companies out of how many? It seems like this was written to just make a quick dig away Dell (same model numbers with completely different hardware inside).

Re:so. .. (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051535)

Dell is very consistent with server internals and BUSINESS desktops/laptops.

Consumer products from Dell are a different matter....

What a stupid statement (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#43051137)

"If Dell makes a small little machine, you don't know that they'll be making that, in that form factor, six months down the road, or what they're going to do, or how they're going to refresh it,"

Actually, with Dell you have a pretty good idea. They have defined life cycles for their servers, and they are pretty good about maintaining a general class of equipment. This is not the case for their low end consumer stuff necessarily, but the stuff you'd put in a datacenter.

Apple? Shit son, they'll change tack and tell nobody before hand. The Xserve is the best example. Their 1U server, a thing they sold for use in everything including super-computer like clusters. Then, suddenly it is gone. Just can't buy it anymore, no replacement. You need 1U equipment? Fuck you.

Or the Mac Pro, which is on sale, but they let get woefully out of date before updating.

Apple is the ultimate at doing whatever they want new whenever they want it. They are not at all interested in backward compatibility or consistency. They'll stick with a form as long as it suits them and then change.

Now that's fine, I'm not saying it isn't valid, however to act like they are good at stability for datacenters is silly. They are not at all. The next Mac mini could be a totally different form factor, or there could be NO next Mac mini. You don't know and Apple won't release any roadmap.

Heck a funny mini related incident is one of our professors does research with rovers he builds. They use Mac minis as their core controller because he's a Mac guy. They worked fine since they were small, and powered by DC they could hook up to the power supply for everything else. What's that you say? They aren't DC powered? Ahh yes, well a couple generations ago Apple changed it, stuck the PSU inside the unit. Great for consumers, bad for him. He's now stockpiled some older ones to use when they break and is trying to come up with a long term plan.

To me this reads like a Mac zealot trying to justify their use of them as a good thing rather than a well thought out argument for why they are good in the datacenter.

Re:What a stupid statement (1, Troll)

node 3 (115640) | about a year ago | (#43051631)

To me this reads like a Mac zealot trying to justify their use of them as a good thing rather than a well thought out argument for why they are good in the datacenter.

Or maybe it's someone who has had great success using them in the datacenter, and sharing their experience?

It's idiotic to call someone a "zealot" for saying Mac minis make good servers.

Re:What a stupid statement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051741)

No not at all. This is slashdot, we have standards to uphold!

You see, if you prefer using a Mac, that makes you a fanboi, hipster, and idiot all rolled into one.

But if you prefer Linux in every equal and identical way, that means you are not a fanboi, not a hipster, and not an idiot, as well as perhaps are the best thing to have blessed the earth and all of man kind with since Linux spent the afternoon curing cancer, solving world hunger, and baking muffins for the staff (which it did you know!)

The hypocritical fanboi-ing on this site is running over so bad NOAA has issued flash flood warnings for all of north america. People so full of themselves one needs a Linux powered truckstop scale to even weigh.

Fuck to hell any type of sensable conversation and insightful comments, someone forgot to down vote an Apple story and of course it's the entire worlds fault but their own!

Re:What a stupid statement (1)

yoduh (548937) | about a year ago | (#43051683)

The premise is a high density of lower cost systems in a data center cabinet, not 1U dell servers. The second part to the quote which was left out of the article referenced how we plan our, organize, and wire the cabinets up. We have a confidence that Apple will use the same external shape for the Mac mini for at least a few model generations. They've only changed the exterior dimensions once since it was released. So dedicating cabinets (we are up to 6 now) just for Mac minis isn't that big of a deal. When they change the design we'll adapt and be set for a few more model generations. It's proven to be a stable enough hardware platform to be able to offer a service for them.

The machines are not perfect and they are not for everyone. But they have the most bang for the buck and work out well for start ups, development, and programs that require OS X. There is obvious a demographic for it as there are thousands of the machines colocated between the various companies.

Windows Mac Mini here (2)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year ago | (#43051185)

I support one running windows. Died once. Was horrible to replace the drive as their was a ton of drives it would not support 2-3 years later.

Once I was able to replace it with a drive it would support I had no issues. The thing is rock solid, cool, and quiet, unlike most of my other big metal.

Why you ask? Not sure- I inherited it, assumed it was a beg borrow and steal sort of thing.

Re:Windows Mac Mini here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051343)

So you have 1 Mac Mini, and it died ..... how is that Rock solid? Ignoring your stupidly low sample size, you have a 100% failure rate.

I've been supporting hundreds of HP blade servers and about a hundred HP DL580s (different generations,) and in the last 3 years I've had 1 fail.

Odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051191)

If I wanted long-term road map at an expensive price, I'd buy an IBM server. Then I might have something that I may be able to repair 10 years from now.

Yeah, but I have no clue why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051209)

I've noticed these things sprouting up like weeds, and I have no idea why.

People have told me they're "convenient", then proceed to tell me how simple it is to drag out a keyboard, monitor and mouse to hookup to the thing just to get into the Apple UEFI graphical OS chooser to boot from a specific DVD partition or load up the CSM ("Bootcamp") to install a legacy OS. I saw a whole rack full of these things at a colo, and it was hilarious because the rack was about 4" from the wall at the back. Again, when I inquired as to how the Minis were working out they said it was fine, except for the fact that they're un-rackmountable without a custom chassis (which defeats any cost advantage over a barebones 1U) and they needed to keep the track out so that they can get behind to plug in a monitor/kb/mouse when required.

These things don't even support IPMI, they have no BMC, and certainly no remote system monitoring infrastructure even though the SMC chipset on the logic board records and monitors a plethora of sensors (more then your usual ATX motherboard). No ECC RAM, not even a single PCI-e slot.

Apple could make a killing if they offered a true "server" variant of the Mini (something with a proper iKVM system with IPMI, ECC RAM support, a single PCI-e slot, and space for two disk drives). But they won't, so you're stuck with the HTPC model.

Why people insist on using an HTPC oriented machine that is clearly not marketed at server-esque operations is beyond me. Why people are actively going out of their way to accommodate these machines is just plain puzzling. OS X is a pretty stuffy OS for server use, and it's not like anyone I know is actually using OS X on their Minis- they're all loaded with Windows or Linux.

The only place I've seen a Mini truly make sense is in the SOHO office where all you need is a single weenie server and an external drive for TM backups. This other widespread usage everywhere else is simply weird.

Re:Yeah, but I have no clue why. (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051547)

Why people insist on using an HTPC oriented machine that is clearly not marketed at server-esque operations is beyond me.

apple markets them with OS X Server OS as a server solution.

Overheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051245)

I use a 2012 Mac Mini Server for my desktop. It runs hot (I'm at 65C just typing this), and it overheats easily, especially when using VMWare, where Windows applications can keep the cores above 90C for long stretches. Also, it seems to crash randomly about once every two weeks. I'm not sure if it's related to the overheating.

A Mac Mini makes a very bad server. But the people leasing these things aren't really taxing them much, so if they enjoy throwing their money away, w'ever....

By contrast, I stuffed a 4-core Xeon E3-1230 into a 1U 9"-depth SuperMicro rack mount with grossly inadequate cooling and at 400% CPU utilization (all 4 cores pegged) I can't even get it to crack 50C... ever. And I only had to drop ~$700 for each system. And, for the record, I ran the tests in the same room as the Mac Mini.

Re:Overheat (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year ago | (#43051591)

Four cores pegged is 100% CPU utilization.

If you we're paying colo fees, the monthly fee for a MacMini would be a fraction of what you would pay for that 1U server. I can colo a MacMini for around $20-40/month, what does it cost to colo your 1U server?

That monthly fee makes a difference to many potential customers, and a 'pimped out' MacMini with n i7 CPU, 16 gig of RAM and two Drives is just a bit more than your 1U $700 box.

You missed a big one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051247)

I own macminiworld.net and have hundreds of minis in my facility. You got me!!!

The mini i7 /w raid 0 SSD 16gb makes a decent hypervisor. You can run dual NIC with thunderbolt for iscsi.

Dustin

Reason for using them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051255)

I have a 4 office WAN with 3 Mac mini's at each location. 2 loaded with 2k3 sbs and the third running straight osx. They have run flawless for 4 years now. if they fail I run to bestbuy or apple store and I am running in a few hours.

Re:Reason for using them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051439)

if you bought a single dell server you would have just as much power, cost less money, and they come running to you within hours

good job

Re:Reason for using them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051727)

And I would have 3 sites with no server. No back up server.... So where do I cut this dell server up into 4 pieces.... Oh and then I have to pay for a 24/7/365 service contract.... So yes good job for your well throughtout answer... Lame dude lame

Why? (1)

SanDiegoDevOps (2854745) | about a year ago | (#43051261)

I run on a mac mini server at home (business class internet connection), and it's fine, but I was using XServHosting (with which I had HORRIBLE business experience, highly not recommended) I agree with the assessment on ECC memory: if you want to run a REAL server, get a VM and run it on real hardware. If you want to run a mini at home or in a small office, sure, but paying hosting company rates? It's a complete waste.

Re:Why? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43051687)

YOU are all missing the BIG PIPE for cheap on commodity hardware part of this equation. It doesnt matter what you guys think about non-pro servers, people are buying this stuff because its cheap and trivial to add to a datacenter. I would LOVE to see a Intel NUC colo too!

ThinkPenguin's got a similar machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051305)

It sells like hotcakes for non-techy users and new GNU/Linux users as a desktop (something to play with to get the hang of GNU/Linux). It has also caught a niche though for techy users with special projects. For instance one neat thing we did was use it to go paperless in the office. Install'd cups-pdf printer software, setup auto-backup to the 'cloud', and magically we have a paperless office now. When users need to print something (in our case it is mostly receipts for tax purposes) they simply go to file print and select the paperless printer. At the end of the year we go through and tabulate the PDF receipts for tax purposes. Saves space & paper in the office. But it has also been used for file storage (with external redundancy using a 4 bay esata docking station). Makes swapping the drives easy. One customer even used it in rough environments with some tweaks for use with a generator I believe.

Had excellent results myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051325)

I've had a hosted mini Mac for six years now and have found it to be an excellent solution . I run an Apache \ Tomcat \ MySQL stack and host a few websites and data services for myself and a few small clients. I've found the reliability and TOC to be excellent for my hosting needs.

                                    M

more than half a dozen facilities... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051353)

really? so many? lol

ThunderThighs and special power plugs to boot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051355)

Apple servers don't use "U"s of rack space, they use "A"s or fucking apple symbols that are a totally different size than a U. And I'm sure they've patented it too. And it uses a special 34 port power plug. And ThunderThighs dual networking cables, also patented. Gaining ground... as in they've sold 8 total?

serial console (3, Insightful)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43051521)

The missing bit that strikes me here is the serial console. If a server does not boot anymore and you want to go single user to fix things, the serial console is convenient, as it allows you to do it without going into the data center an hook a keyboard and a screen.

I tend to be a mac person on the desktop, but I am not convinced by mac servers since the day they retired their 1U Xserve

They are neat little boxes (5, Informative)

otuz (85014) | about a year ago | (#43051585)

What most of you fail to understand is the TCO. The hardware costs nothing in comparison to how little time they need for setup and maintenance. If one fails, big deal; get a new one and restore it from the backup and it's running with a few minutes of work. Need more capacity or redundancy? Just get another and it's running within minutes. Need more demanding mass storage and/or networking? Plug that into the convenient external PCIe bus (Thunderbolt). Basically lim(0) setup time there too.

I still run my own servers as dedicated co-located generic Linux boxes, but the setup still takes roughly a day; not hours or minutes. That time isn't billable and I schedule it to days I can't do anything productive. If something fails without warning and requires immediate action, it's a day subtracted from writing billable hours of code, which per se costs about the same as a Mac Mini Server. For the customers of mine who need dedicated units for one reason or another, the Mac Minis pay for themselves just in the initial setup work alone, and they can manage them by themselves, just like my mom is able to manage her MacBook with maybe a support call every few years, when she wants an opinion on a hardware upgrade or such.

After the Mac Mini servers got the i7 CPU's, none of my customers chose a Linux option when presented with the cost breakdown. From the software perspective, my code isn't picky about which Unix or unix-like it's running on. Almost anything goes, as long as the system dependencies are installed. OS X Server just happens to have all the system dependencies preinstalled in the shipping configuration as well as everything else they typically might need.

In a small or medium scale setup or a large scale setup of heterogenous systems, Linux is cheap only if time doesn't cost anything, or the comparison baseline is something even worse; Microsoft Windows or such. Linux-based setups may also be feasible for certain large scale installations of homogenous nodes.

why don't you have a linux distro preconfigured? (1)

Chirs (87576) | about a year ago | (#43051765)

If you're installing that many boxes, why don't you have a preconfigured linux install that you can just dump onto the drive of a target box?

You should be able to set one up once, dump it to storage somewhere, and just image it onto the target hardware.

Ain't gonna die (5, Informative)

towermac (752159) | about a year ago | (#43051659)

I have an original 1.42 Ghz mini sitting on my desk running nightly reports. It was a CFO's desktop for a year, (for a tiny company), and it's been running reports since then.

iCal repeating events tell Filemaker to query MSSQL databases, which outputs Excel files, which are manipulated using Applescript. Mail emails the finished and highly formatted reports to various people in the company. Pretty damned easy to work with, given the magic "Record" button. I used to have it print overnight, but that became too old school.

It still has the Apple serial number in the disk info box - never even been formatted. Still has 512K Ram. Never misses a beat. I guess for 8 years now. Put that ROI in your pipe and smoke it.

I should still probably get around to backing it up someday..

gains ground with 5400 rpm drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051691)

Only if being buried by dirt. Claim is actually insulting. Slashdot tryig to appeal to the average american voter again?

small businesses servers has alway been a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43051735)

Mac mini server?
Now you have two problems.

No redundant power (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43051743)

No raid. No ecc reg ram. No ipmi*. No thanks. What happened to Xserves? Everybody switched to Linux.

*not that I use ipmi, but its presence marks a serious machine room server

Scientific evidence, here... (2, Interesting)

KrazyDave (2559307) | about a year ago | (#43051761)

I have had an Intel Mac mini running XP for a home surveillance monitor/server 24/7 for approx. 5 years and it has *never* crashed, and I do a preventative restart about every 60 days. Simultaneously, I have had the identical software running on an identical install of XP on no less than 4 different PC hardware with similar CPUs (both Intel and AMD) and RAM with regular, almost daily crashing, BSD, or freezing.
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