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Apple IT Hardware

Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground 367

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can't-see-it-is-it-beautiful? dept.
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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Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:27PM (#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".

  • A new fad? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:37PM (#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?

  • To their credit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by U8MyData (1281010) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:42PM (#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.
  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:46PM (#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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:48PM (#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.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:01PM (#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.)

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:38PM (#43051411) Journal

    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:A new fad? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by node 3 (115640) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:55PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drosboro (1046516) on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:00PM (#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.

  • by KrazyDave (2559307) <htcprog@gmail.com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:42PM (#43051761) Homepage
    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.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @08:33AM (#43053429)

    The fact that they haven't changed it says more about a lack of innovation of Apple's part than any commitment to consistency for their customers. Remember how they decided to screw everyone over with the iPod cable?

    New iPhone comes out, Apple doesn't change a damn thing with the dimensions to placate the aftermarket crowd. People bitch they're not innovating.

    New model comes out, the screen is half an inch bigger, forcing everyone to buy new aftermarket accessories all over again, and people bitch about change.

    Who exactly would you like to "screw over" with the next revision...the group that gets pissed off, or the group that gets pissed off?

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