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Apple Blurs the Server Line With Mac Mini Server 557

Posted by kdawson
from the so-easy-a-child-can-set-it-up dept.
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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Apple Blurs the Server Line With Mac Mini Server

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  • 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.
    • by sarahbau (692647) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:45PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by palegray.net (1195047)
        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.
      • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:15PM (#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.

        • by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:29PM (#29817141)

          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.

          That's not actually that much of a hinderance. None of my servers have an optical drive, either. When I need to load something from CD, I have a USB Blu-Ray drive that I can cannibalize from my HTPC for the purpose.

          I can see a definite market for this, too. I built a super-server a year and a half ago (you know the type, multipe physical CPU's representing 8 logical cores, 16GB of RAM, multiple terabytes of storage, running half a dozen virtual machines, each one having its own set of services, in order to present a complete framework, etc.), but other than that, the overwhelming majority of the servers I run/administrate would do just fine with Mac Mini hardware. They're small purpose-built servers whose primary design goal beyond its actual purpose is power efficiency. At home, for example, I have a small file server. It serves up MP3's and videos to my HTPCs. It also has a network share drive for saving/sharing documents between computers on the network. Beyond that, it's also got a small MySQL/Apache/PHP implementation, and I use it to test web pages when I'm designing them... I just save/work on the files on the appropriate folder on the network drive, and they're live to the internal network immediately. This system is low end... aside from the hard drive (which is as big as I could get in the system), it's running a Via C7 1.5GHz, with 2GB of RAM. I could very easily replace that system with a Mac Mini.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dan B. (20610)

            Your spot on with the home office server which I agree, is where this is squarely aimed. I already use a Mac mini (G4) with OS X 10.4 server to run the home network, serve up music to all the other PCs and laptops around the place, and run as the local mail server. The last job it serves is as a test platform for any MAMP projects I do on the side, plus host my blog/web presence (which probably only gets all of 7 hits a week). I've had this scenario since 2005 and I'd actually been looking to upgrade to the

      • by ozbird (127571) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:53PM (#29815313)
        If you're going to put Debian or Ubuntu on it, you might as well get an Asus Eee Box and save yourself several hundred bucks. For light server roles, the Atom CPU is fine. Works for me!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642)

          Asus Eee Box

          My eee gets "hot" in an hour and approaches boiling water temperature in two or so... Luckily the battery only lasts a couple hours.

          On the other hand, my wife's mac mini runs DVD transcode jobs overnight with no obvious temperature problems.

          Have you actually tried running an eee more than a couple hours?

          Note that we probably have different eee models, yours might run cold or have a fan that actually does something.

        • Depends on your requirements, afaict the eeebox only supports a single internal hard drive (and I don't think it has esata or firewire either so you are left with shitty USB if you want a second drive for raid). This new server mini supports two hard drives (the previous gen mini could also be hacked to support this but it's nice that apple have made it official). The mini also has a much better processor (which you say is not important to you, fair enough doesn't mean it isn't important to anyone)

          In terms of bang per cubic centimeter the mac mini is pretty hard to beat.

          As always there are trade-offs, the eeebox is small and cheap but not powerful. The mini is small and reasonably powerful but not particularly cheap. A bottom of the range dell vostro has a price comparable to the eeebox and specs comparable to the base model mini but isn't small.

          • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:39PM (#29816481) Homepage Journal

            Lenovo sells what's essentially an Eee Box (atom processor+motherboard) in a midtower case for $200 shipped if you shop around on their website. I've seen it for less. It includes a DVD+/-R optical drive and 1 spare SATA port, for a total of three drives. It also includes a PCI slot where you could add a 4 SATA port expansion card. Hard drives only eat about 5w a piece, so the meager power supply shouldn't have trouble with the "extra load" at all. My buddy just put together something similar from newegg, but he went with the Atom 320 processor (64 bit, dual core atom) for a few bucks more. It's his primary file server now.

            • by remmelt (837671) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:02AM (#29821703) Homepage

              The Atom is nothing to sneeze at and should do more than fine for a SOHO fileserver, but it's not a C2D processor. The Mini as advertised here is a full blown desktop PC with all bells and whistles, and it _still_ only uses 16W idle. That's where the additional cash goes.
              Also, it's not easy to find a decent (80+) PSU with good efficiency in the lower watts. The PicoPSU is great, but adds another $40 plus around $40 for an adapter. Which should also be 80+ again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the_womble (580291)

        Mythic beasts [mythic-beasts.com] have been using Mac-Minis and even Apple TVs for web hosting for years.

        I have never used them myself, but it looks interesting.

  • Bold claim... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sean_nestor (781844) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:40PM (#29814027) Homepage
    "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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:42PM (#29814067) Homepage Journal
      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... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sean_nestor (781844) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:58PM (#29814405) Homepage
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          People at the genius bar don't sell XServers. I have seen plenty of mission critical servers over the years with what their administrators thought were backups running when they didn't really have any. There is no reason a Mac savvy user could not run an XServe including those services you mention. Happens all the time. Your example of one does not prove otherwise. It just validates what you would like to believe about your own obviously low level low demand skills.

          Show me any Apple marketing btw that s

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

          by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:00PM (#29816753) Homepage

          Being young and mildly tech-conscious, they overestimated their ability to manage this thing...

          C'mon, who here on /. hasn't been there? If you haven't yet found yourself in such a position, you will eventually.

          ...but managing backups was way out of their league. The backups weren't even running, though they remained blissfully unaware of this fact...

          This reminded me of my own worst IT disaster, back when I was young, green and waaaaaay over-confident. I learned from my mistake; who's to say that your clients didn't learn also? They at least had the common sense to recognize that they didn't know enough and therefore called you, right?

          It seems to me that you are making an error that is all too common: ignorance != stupidity. There is no shame in simply being unaware of something -- everyone has something yet to learn. The truly stupid, however...well, they have a way of weeding themselves out of the gene pool.

          As for the "borderline masochistic relationship between [Apple users] and Apple" -- I don't know about that. I've only used a Mac occasionally, but it seems like a far less masochistic relationship than that which exists between Windows users and Microsoft, or even arguably less masochistic than the relationship between Linux users and <insert name of favorite distro here> (and I say that as one who regularly uses Gentoo, so I'm neck-deep in masochism <grin>).

        • You don't know from ridiculously overpriced. Try paying for an RS/6000, or worse, Windows Advanced License Revenue Generation Server.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by v1 (525388)

        or rather, that's how consultants make their money. Get hired, come in and install a convoluted system that only they understand and can run/support, and then are your support-until-death-do-we-part.

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

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:53PM (#29814317) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      From playing with a copy of Snow Leopard pretty briefly, I'd say that you can get some of the services up and running without knowing very much. For example, it's pretty dead simple to get apache running with Apple's supported weblog and wiki software. I wouldn't think DNS would be any easier for a new sysadmin on OSX. Either you know how to configure DNS or you don't. Mail setup seemed pretty easy, except you'll still have to know how to set up the DNS entries for a mail server to get it to be useful.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:40PM (#29814029)
    that focuses primarily on the visual aesthetics of the physical box that it's housed in.
    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Again (1351325)

        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.

        • by dingen (958134) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:02PM (#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.

          • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:30PM (#29815755) Homepage
            Why does nobody think of the cooling? It doesn't matter how small the boxes are, if you cram too many of them into one room without adequate cooling, you're in for a world of hurt. A bigger, faster machine is often more economically sound than a smaller one like this, unless you have a dedicated, seriously cooled server room, and in that case, the non-server form factor would be more of a pain in the ass than the space savings would win you, IMHO.
            • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:52AM (#29819547) Homepage

              Why does nobody think of the cooling? It doesn't matter how small the boxes are, if you cram too many of them into one room without adequate cooling, you're in for a world of hurt

              Well sure, if you do it wrong like that you'll run into trouble. The proper way to install a MacMini supercomputer is not to put all the minis next to each other in the same room.... instead, you superglue a couple dozen minis to the ceiling of each and every room in the building. That way the heat output is spread evenly across the entire building rather than being allowed to build up in a single room.

              As an added bonus, if any of the minis ever does overheat, the superglue will melt and the mini will fall from the ceiling. The person whose head it lands on will call the IT department and notify you that a node needs replacing.

    • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:25PM (#29814885) Homepage Journal
      I don't know where you have been for the past ten years, but the time of putting beige boxes in the back rooms and praying hat they don' break down is over with. Servers are now serious business, and the aesthetics matter because it is often related to reliability, TCO, and overhead. Servers now require real-estate, which costs money, power, which costs money, and cooling, which costs money. What is more, downtime costs money. On a personal note, the server room I use follows the philosophy of 'who cares about aesthetics'. It is impossible to work, takes forever to get things fixed, and generally is pain. I can imagine how much nicer it would be just to have neat stacks of mac minis.

      I think that is the issue. What if one wants a server and all one has is a telephone closet. For 1K you can put a mini in there and probably won't need to worry about power, cooling, whatever. A thousand for a server. Back in the olden days, when I was putting the first servers in a MS Windows environment, the machines cost at lest twice that much, and were unreliable. Today, a growing business could probably live for a while just adding more servers. And at that price, one could keep an extra around. You now, a redundant array of mac minis.

      I am not saying that I can imagine a real case where a mini server would make sense. I am just saying that discounting things like aesthetics and design in a what is clearly meant to be SOHO server is rather silly. Not everyone has the funds to hire an MSCE to run a server, has the need for a rack solution, or the ability to set up a *nix server from scratch. In reality, I can't imagine how this would be better than outsourcing, but I can appreciate how this is one of Apples cleaver ideas. I suspect MS might be pushing their xbox server next month

  • Scoff? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aicrules (819392) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:44PM (#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? (Score:5, Funny)

      by cabjf (710106) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:55PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:04PM (#29814529) Homepage Journal

      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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jim Hall (2985)

      ... 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

    • Re:Scoff? (Score:5, Informative)

      by commodoresloat (172735) * on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:24PM (#29814873)

      Sure, it may not be the right thing to rack-mount en mass

      Tell that to these guys [dannychoo.com]. Apple has been experimenting with the server potential of the Mini for quite some time now.

  • 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 interfa

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:55PM (#29814351) Homepage

      "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385)

        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.

  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:45PM (#29814149)

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

  • Great Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#29814211) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#29814221) Homepage

    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.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @04:59PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191)

      I got an original 1.25 GHz G4 Mini shortly after it was announced in early 2005. With the non-server version of Mac OS, it has been serving web pages via my DSL and doing other tasks 24/7 since March 2, 2005. It was also my main day-to-day machine for about 2 years until I stepped up to a used G5 and then a used Mac Pro. But it's still serving just fine, and now it's also what the kid uses to watch DVDs when he's in the room with me. (The kid is younger than the Mini, btw.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Mine sits under my TV and acts as a file server, SSH box if I need to bounce something through it, VPN server if I don't want my e-mail traveling over public wifi or something and a PVR that records (over firewire) from the cable box then compresses to highdef h264, all scheduled by iCal events. All while sipping power.

  • by jhfry (829244) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:07PM (#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?

    • mod parent up (Score:3, Interesting)

      Excellent point - iPhoto is one area where Apple seems to continue to miss the boat. It is very slow for what it does, and sharing photos (which it already does do from the client) takes forever over gigabit networks. Backup is theoretically easy ("just copy the iphoto library from one computer to another!) but in the real world is a mess (not at all automated, and when you take two different computers to different photo shoots, for example, you wind up with different libraries and synchronizing them is n

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:13PM (#29814673) Homepage

    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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DaHat (247651)

      What about Windows Small Business Server [microsoft.com]? Granted... the OEM price is roughly the same as a standard OEM copy of Server 2008... only it comes with a heck of a lot more in the box (Exchange, SQL, etc).

      One wonders what will come of Windows Foundation Server [microsoft.com] and it's pricing.

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:18PM (#29814773) Journal

    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

  • by arhhook (995275) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:21PM (#29814833)

    Don't use the Guest Account!

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:49PM (#29815257)

    New imacs make the mac pro look even more over priced pay $1000 more to get smaller HD, much weak video, and less ram. Also why still 9400m in the $1200 imac? and the base mini should have bigger then a 160g and better video then 9400m at $600 and $800. The imcas just keep getting bigger and bigger how about people who don't have room 20inch+ systems to get new hardware.

    also only dual cores in $1200, $1500, $1700 imacs?

  • by eh2o (471262) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:55PM (#29815335)

    Dual ethernet is pretty much a standard feature for a small office server, lets you set up firewalls, remote access and other public-side facing services. And they could have made space for it by removing a few of the USB ports, 5 USB ports seems kinda overkill for a machine that isn't intended for desktop use.

    FWIW I haven't used OSX Server in a few years but last time I did the GUI config tools were okay but not amazing. Some of the services were pretty smooth to config, but the hard stuff was still hard. For example to setup Apache you still pretty much had to be an expert in httpd.conf arcana even though you didn't actually have to edit the files by hand (usually).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clf8 (93379)

      Dual NIC would have resulted in a fair amount of changes. As it is (as someone mentioned earlier), they just stack in a second drive where the optical drive was. The only other difference is the case doesn't have a slot, and frankly they probably could have left that there too. Otherwise, everything is identical. Now dual NIC, you've changed the back of the case as well. More importantly, you've now changed the motherboard and are now designing 2 computers instead of just 1.

      You probably won't get a mas

  • Ouch! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:57PM (#29815359)

    Am I the only one that thinks that the pricing for the Mac Mini has gone a little insane? When they first came out they were for people who wanted to dip their toes into the Apple world but without spending a small fortune. Now the base unit is £500, hardly a drop in the ocean.

    And yet again, nothing headless in the mid-range :( I can either go for the sexy (but hugely overpriced and underspecced) £649 Mac Mini or jump over £1200 to the £1,899 quad core beast. As the idea of paying to replace your monitor every time Apple make your old product obsolete sounds a little absurd to me - I'm not interested in the iMacs.

    It's no wonder that some companies (*cough*psystar*cough*) and people are flirting with the idea of a Hackintosh. A £800 mid-range headless box from Apple would surely hit the sweet spot for quite a lot of people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clf8 (93379)

      Actually, with the 27" iMac you can actually use that as an external monitor. So, you could get yourself an iMac and use it until it's obsolete, then use it merely as a display. Not quite sure if/how you would switch between internal/external source (maybe a KVM switch could work), but you could then turn the iMac into a server when you upgrade to whatever next.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RESPAWN (153636)

      A £800 mid-range headless box from Apple would surely hit the sweet spot for quite a lot of people.

      That it would. Although those aren't the people that Apple are looking for. If they provide a mid-range headless system, then why would people buy iMacs? A mid-range machine would eat into the (likely very profitable) iMac sales. Those that need more "oomph" than the mini have to buy an iMac -- and what a great value it is! Why look! You get both a computer and a monitor for that price!

      And those th

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garote (682822)

        Yes, it's a slick strategy. You're right: Apple doesn't compete in the commodity PC space.
        But why are you picking on your art department?

        You say that people buy Macs because they are "chic, cool, and exclusive -- a luxury item", as if your fellow employees wanted them just to boost their egos. To say that, you need to deliberately ignore a very important fact, and what is probably the real reason your art department wants Mac hardware: Mac hardware runs OS X, and runs it well.
        Why not give your artists t

  • by david.emery (127135) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:07PM (#29815485)

    I've been running OS X Server in a SOHO situation for several years, including hosting some websites, LDAP-based network login, OS X Mobile accounts on laptops (laptop synchs when it's back in the home network) and file sharing.

    Last week I got a new low-end Mini and a copy of Snow Leopard Server, at about the same cost as the new product. My Mini is only 2.0ghz, compared to 2.5ghz, and has only 1, 120gb, disk drive vs the 2x 500gb drives. But those drives are 5400rpm, and you give up the optical drive for the second hard drive. My big disappointment with this (besides it coming out a week after I bought something a bit less capable) is that I think they should have added at least one and preferably 2 eSATA ports (and given up 2 USB ports.)

    I'm looking forward to trying out the Wiki server, and also the new 'connect to home' facility that is something like a very simplified VPN, that's new in Snow Leopard Server.

    Administering Snow Leopard Server is very little like handling Unix servers, with one exception. You still need to pore through logfiles for security issues, etc. But the late Leopard Server (X.5.6 or so) and now Snow Leopard server "server preferences" are likely to provide a relatively knowledgeable user with the ability to set up a functional server in, literally, 10 minutes (voice of experience...) That's assuming you have a DNS that provides domain name/IP mapping, and you're doing simple LDAP or already have an LDAP server (including Active Directory, but I don't have any experience with AD or mixed Windows/Mac integration.)

    Clearly this is not for someone who needs computational power in a server. But a pair of servers, using a shared (NAS) disk, and some sort of mechanism that can do hot-backup/rollover at the edge, could be a very workable relatively high-reliability situation for someone. But more importantly, I think this is a very attractive product for small offices, particularly with some sort of FW800 or NAS RAID mirrored/redundant disk enclosure.

    Oh, and someone asked how you do an install without an optical drive in the server: "There's more than one way to do this." MacOS provides remote disk (this was developed for the MacBook Air), so you slide your install DVD into another Mac with an optical drive and active remote disk. OR, you can use Firewire Target mode (one of the great Mac tricks of all time.) This is how I loaded my Leopard server double-density DVD onto an old G5 that did not have a double density DVD drive. I stuck it in my MacBook Pro, then rebooted the MBP into Firewire Target mode. I used a (FW800 - great performance) cable to plug that machine into the G5. All of the MBP's drives, including the DVD in the optical drive, mounted on the G5. Basically Target mode turns your Mac into the equivalent of an external disk enclosure for all drives/volumes on that machine. This is also super-cool for backup. I have an eSATA enclosure and a ExpressCard34 eSATA adapter for the MBP. I can do drive-dump level backups by putting the Mini into Firewire Target mode and then disk-dumping drive images onto my eSATA enclosure. (The eSATA enclosure is left over from that G5, which had a hardware RAID eSATA card in it. I was sorry to give that particular card up, it worked pretty well.)

  • DC Power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by inio (26835) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:12PM (#29815535) Homepage

    This is interesting for people considering a DC-powered server room. The Mini uses 18.5V DC with an external AC-DC converter. No hardware modifications required to run off a DC supply.

  • by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:58PM (#29816085) Journal

    People are already using Mini's as servers, there are co-lo's that offer Mac Mini's as "servers". Others are using them as display servers for overhead screens in their commandcenter with their OS X based system.(saw an article somewhere about some police command center that used a OS X based system)
    So there is many places where you already can find racks of Mac Minis today so I'd say there is a demand for server minis with RAID disks.

  • by litewoheat (179018) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:11PM (#29816905)
    We use a first generation Mac Mini in my office to do nightly builds of both our MacOS and Windows software. The windows builds run on VM Ware. Its not uncommon for the build machine to be running 100% CPU for hours at a time. It hasn't been rebooted in months. We've been doing this with the same machine for over three years. Its wonderful. Never had a problem...
  • by lanner (107308) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @09:23PM (#29817729)

    Apple did not do this because they are trying to gain new customers. They did it because existing Apple customers already have been doing this for a long time.

    Putting OSX Server onto little Mac Minis has been going on for a long time. People strap them to the back of plasma TVs, use them in point-of-sale, put them in kiosk boxes that use a modem for remote administration, or use them for a test server on their desk. Let's face it, I don't want to put a rack mount 1U XServe on my desk when I could just use a Mac Mini and basically get the same software features on much MUCH cheaper hardware.

    That is why people want OSX Server on the Mac Mini; dev/testing, kiosks, and other rough-environment deployments.

  • by bikehorn (1371391) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:19PM (#29818853)
    At my work this would be just ideal. We are a medium sized electrical contracting company(I am an electrician, not an IT person and we don't have one on staff, but there is a company on retainer should anything go wrong) with about 65 people on the payroll. At our office/warehouse we have one server that sits in a mess of wires and a variety of workstations. All our computers are aging Win XP machines which are clunky, occupy space and electrically inefficient. The server handles email, file serving, backups and maybe the website...I don't know if we host it ourselves or have it hosted elsewhere. In a year or two we are going to be due for an upgrade and due to as the level of dissatisfaction with Simply Accounting increases I feel tempted to suggest switching our office entirely to Macs running MoneyWorks Gold. We would retain one Windows computer to run our estimating and bidding software, Accubid and BidWinner Plus.

    This mini server would complete the picture and do it without requiring a server closet...which is good because we don't have the room for one. We don't need or want massive processing power...we want compactness, reliability and energy efficiency. Our server is mounted on the wall of a warehouse room where we store large quantities of wiring, tools and other supplies, and as we are short on space this would be very welcome. I imagine the reduced frustration would increase our productivity and make management a lot easier without needing to call up the IT company all the time. We install a lot of renewable energy equipment so energy consciousness in our own office is something we pay attention to. People who scoff at this thing simply don't work with or see applications where this would be a perfect drop-in solution. Apple is once again offering something that nobody else is capable of and I am glad they have paid attention to something a lot of people need but cannot otherwise find. At my company Linux is not even remotely an option, so fanboys can go pound sand.
  • by nuckfuts (690967) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:09AM (#29820741)

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

    I call something a 'server' if it is providing one or more services to other computers. It has nothing to do with the hardware or operating system used.

    I've often redeployed old 'desktop' computers in server roles. At that point they become 'servers', whether or not they sport features like high speed, large capacity or redundancy.

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