ImageThis one isn’t directly connected to running a server, but it’s incredibly useful for those that are on the move quite often. (And those who are on the move quite often usually have servers, so there’s my justification.)

Most of my internet time is spent at my house, my office, or the data center. In all three places I have static ip’s for port forwarding, etc. For each spot, I have a “Location” setup on my MacBook Air. I got tired of manually changing the location each time I moved around so I went searching and I found Locamatic.

Locamatic is a preference pane that will automatically change your Location based on whatever network your Airport card joins.

I’ve had it setup for a week now and it’s worked flawlessly switching me between locations.

If this sounds useful, you can it here for free.

ImageNagios is an open source program that can be installed on a server to check on other servers. For instance, you could have it check that sites are up, services are running, an machines are pinging. And if it doesn’t find those things, it can send an email or an SMS so you know about it.

Macworld just posted a great article on this Nagios called, “Installing Nagios on Mac OS X 10.5 Server.”

They also pointed to a nice community where plug-ins are shared called Nagios Exchange.

You can download Nagios here.

ImageThe other day, we saw a pretty good spike of traffic going thru one of our switches. We’re always happy to see this because it usually means that someone is doing something worth talking about with their minis.

It turns out, the traffic was heading to the box hosted by Venice Arts. I talked with the admin of the box and he told me about the great project they’re doing. It’s moving photo gallery called “The House Is Small But The Welcome Is Big.”

The day the traffic came rolling in, it was due to being highlighted on MSN.com. The article was titled AIDS victims show their stories — in pictures and here is a short excerpt talking about the photos:

The photo gallery, online and traveling in the United States and overseas, is unlike others about AIDS and Africa: The images are both joyous and wrenching, and they were shot by women and children who are caught in the pandemic that has killed and orphaned so many.

Photographers from the outside often capture only unrelieved tragedy; those inside can tell a fuller story, say the Los Angeles-based founders of “The House Is Small But the Welcome Is Big,” created to focus attention on the AIDS crisis and promote action.

The pictures were taken by 18 AIDS-orphaned children from Maputo, Mozambique, and 15 HIV-positive women in Cape Town, South Africa. An exhibit opens this week at a Denver art gallery, Gallery M, and will be seen in New York, Los Angeles and internationally.

This article brought 11k unique visitors in just under three hours. Surely each of them were loading page after page of these photos and the Mac mini held up great. From what I’m told, there is a whole lot more ahead with this great project including a photography research institute at USC and a pulitzer nominee as the creative director.

Do you have an interesting way you’re using your Mac mini server? Let Us Know about it.

ImageI’ve been happy to move from cron to launchd for automating tasks. Lingon has become incredibly useful in this transition.

“Lingon is a graphical user interface for creating an editing launchd configuration files for Mac OS X Leopard 10.5. You can use launchd on a Mac to launch scripts and applications whenever something special happens or at a specific time or periodically. You get all launchd configuration files in a list to the left so you can easily see all and choose which one to edit.

Editing a configuration file is easier than ever in this version and it has two different modes. Basic Mode which has the most common settings readily available in a very simple interface and Expert Mode where you can add all settings either directly in the text or insert them through a menu.”

You can get your free copy of Lingon here.

ImageAs I frequent different Mac forums, there are often threads asking where to get used Mac minis. Craigslist and eBay are the obvious suggestions. Also, Apple will sometimes list refurbished Mac minis on their site, though they don’t last long.

The amazing thing is that Mac minis (like most other Macs) keep an incredibly good resale value. Even the original G4 minis that sell on ebay are often just $100 less than when they were new. It’s amazing.

Since we have a lot of Mac minis coming in and out, we’ll often have extra ones that are available for purchase. We decided to keep a page of Mac minis that we have available. And as a bonus, we have a $75 discount for anyone looking to purchase one of these minis for use here in our data center.

So, take a look at the used Mac minis. We’ll keep it current as inventories change.

Update: I know we just posted this post and the minis a couple days ago, but they’ve already all been bought. It’s amazing the interest in used Mac minis. We’ll update the page as more come in.

ImageWe have quite a few customers that use their Mac minis as a file server. Searchlight gives you the ability of Spotlight search thru the web.

When you start Searchlight, there are just a few choices you have to make before your server is live. This includes which files you’d want to share. Then you start the server. It runs on port 9000.

Once the server is started, you can point a browser on your Mac, PC or iPhone and search all of your files. It also allows for a Quick Look so you can have a preview of the file.

You can learn more and download the app here.

ImageAt WWDC, ask they announced that the next version of OS X would be 10.6 Snow Leopard. Rather than add new features, doctor they would really upgrade performance and ability. They also offered some detail on Snow Leopard Server which sounds great. Here are a few of the highlights I liked:

  • Snow Leopard Server follows up with the next major release of iCal Server, asthma which includes group and shared calendars, push notifications, the ability to send email invitations to non-iCal Server users, and a browser-based application that lets users access their calendars on the web when they’re away from their Mac.
  • Snow Leopard Server brings unrivaled support for multicore processors with “Grand Central,” a new set of built-in technologies that makes all of Mac OS X Server multicore aware and optimizes it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors.
  • Mail services have been enhanced to include server-side email rules and vacation messages.
  • Introducing the first open standards-based Address Book Server, Snow Leopard Server makes it easier than ever to share contacts across multiple computers.
  • Snow Leopard Server uses 64-bit kernel technology to support breakthrough amounts of RAM — up to a theoretical 16TB, or 500 times what is possible today.

All of these sound great…especially for those of use who enjoy Mac mini servers. Packing even more punch in the Mac minis.

(link to article)

ImageI know we have quite a few customers who use their Mac minis as subversion servers. The number has increased since Leopard now ships with Subversion 1.4.4 and Apache2 pre-installed. (Of course, you’d need to configure the server. But there are good instructions here and here.)

Versions is a client for a subversion server. It was recently released as a free beta and offers a nice new way of interacting with the Subversion server.

So, if you’re looking for a nice way to keep versions of your work. Or, if you work with a group and want to make sure everyone is working on the most up to date work, then you can download Versions here.

ImageOf all the backup applications there are, I like SuperDuper the most. The reason is because in years of using it, I’ve never had a bad backup.

When it comes to Mac servers, there is usually quite a bit of configuration that goes into getting it just right. SuperDuper will backup the entire drive so it’s an exact clone.

Part of the reason we offer a “Hot Standby Club” to our customers is because SuperDuper make it real easy to get back and going in a machine failure. We’ll usually take their drive, plug it into our available standby machine and boot right from it. This means they’re up and going in no time while their server has their hardware is repaired.

SuperDuper is free to use for backups. But, to have it be real useful, you’ll want the Smart Backup. This allows you to only copy the things that have changed since the last backup. To get this option, you’ll need to register the application for $27.95. You can get the app and the license here.