One of the more popular uses for the Mac minis in our data center is to run a web server. The minis have incredible performance for this service. At one point, I was serving 3.5 million hits per month off of one G4 server. The Intel minis are naturally much better with more RAM allowed.
Mac OS X makes it easier to get a web site up and running. In this video, I show you how to enable the service, where to change web site documents, and how to test that it’s working.
In the video, I mention a few links. I’ll list them here:
And now a link to the video: Enable the Web Server (option+click to download)
Secure Shell or SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices. It’s used mostly to access Unix or Linux commands, and is a secure way to send text like passwords and other private data.
In this video, we focus on SSH We look at enabling the SSH service, connecting to the server, and we show a couple uses for it. These uses include restarting the Screen Sharing service, and connecting with SFTP.
In the video, I mention a few links. I’ll list them here:
And now a link to the video: Enable and Use SSH (option+click to download)
Once the Mac mini is placed into the data center, Leopard provides a Screen Sharing application that works really well. In this video, we’ll look at connecting with this Screen Sharing app.
This video assumes the Mac mini is setup using the techniques in the Initial Setup video. In that video, we configured the Screen Sharing server. We’ll show where that is located in this video, but you won’t be able to connect if it wasn’t enabled previously.
And now a link to the video: Connect With Screen Sharing (option+click to download)
When it comes to running a server, the initial setup is the most boring but the most important. You want to make sure your machine starts up and stays up while it’s doing it’s server duties.
In this video, we’ll work with a brand new Mac mini and get it to a point where it’s ready to start up and starting working with as a server. The majority of the work will be done in the System Preferences.
So, the steps are simple and probably known by most already. But, after setting up hundreds of Mac minis over the years, these are the best settings and tips we’ve found. All the other movies from this point will begin assuming you’ve set up the machine this way.
And now a link to the video: Initial Setup of a Mac Server (option+click to download)
A few years ago, I did a series of video tutorials on how to build a Mac server. These videos focused on OS X included software, free software, or very inexpensive software. We looked at tasks like setting up the server, running a website or multiple websites, running a file server, etc. This series proved to be very popular, ending with a list of 16,000 subscribers. We still receive plenty of emails both asking for further tips, or just thanking us for the videos.
I’ve decided to start a new series covering the same topics and some new ones. The reason is because since the last series was completed, the Mac mini has been updated in both hardware and software. Leopard changes some procedures that were show in the older videos. (which were done on Tiger.) Also, the newest hardware offers some additional options.
While these video tutorials will use a Mac mini as the server, they’ll also be of use to other folks who have extra Mac hardware that they’d like to get setup as a server. The steps in the video will be very simple, and should be sufficient training for even a novice. And since we use included, free, or very inexpensive software, it shouldn’t leave anyone out on price. Each post will include a link list as well.
There are a few ways to get notified when these videos are posted. You can get updates by email, subscribe to the Far Away Mac RSS Feed or follow us on Twitter where we’ll tweet each time a video is posted. If you have questions or comments on the video, you can send them via twitter (@macminicolo) or using our contact page.
I’ll list the videos on this post as they become available:
Just a heads up. Today, we’ve added some machines to our Used Mac minis page. They don’t usually last too long, so I thought I’d give readers of this blog a first shot.
The prices are pretty much market value. But if you’re looking to start the Macminicolo service, there are some pretty steep discounts that can save you some money.
Yesterday during the presentation of the new iPhone 3.0 SDK, Apple announced that developers will finally get to use the announced Push Notification service. This will allow iPhone apps to receive messages even while they are not running.
We are members of the iPhone Developer Program because we think the hosted Mac minis make a really great back end for these iPhone applications. Since the cost is so low and our install time is quick, developers can grow along with their application. We like to keep an eye on the technologies and read through the documents available in the program.
However, we are not currently developing any applications. We’re focusing on helping other developers get their project going.
So here is what we’re looking for right now. We’d like to work with a couple developers who are planning to use the push notification system in their applications. We’ll put you on some Mac minis here in the data center and host the machine for a year at no cost. We’ll give you as much bandwidth as you need. In return, we’d like to keep in good contact with you through the development process and have you inform us on what kind of performance you’re getting for the Push Notification system. From what we’ve seen from our internal testing, these Mac minis will be able to keep up with even the most popular applications. Now we’d like to see some real world numbers on real world apps.
If you’d like to work with us, feel free to send me a note. We’re going to choose two or three applications that look like they’ll provide good performance benchmarks on the Push Notifications. It’s open to both new and existing applications. We’ll agree to NDA on the application ideas, we’re just interested in the performance numbers.
Update: Thanks for all the interest. I think we’ve found the devs we are going to work for on the benchmarking. However, we’d still love to be considered for any other devs that want to host with us.
Recently, Apple has offered trial version of Leopard Server. I think this is a great move since so many people come away impressed when they see how simple and affordable Leopard Server is to users.
Apple asks that you fill out a form located here and then they’ll send you the evaluation software via FedEx ground.
On a similar note, there is something new with the most recent Mac minis when it comes to installing Leopard Server. It seems that the machines can no longer boot from a Leopard Server DVD. Instead, when you place the Leopard Server DVD in the machine, it allows you to install the Server components without a restart. Then, when you run Software Update, it will download the latest Leopard Server combo update, install it on the Mac mini, and then have you restart.
Once restarted, it walks thru the usual configuration pages of what kind of install (Standard, Workgroup, or Advanced) and the other settings like users, services, etc.
Now that the Mac minis can run with 4GB of RAM, I know we’ll see quite a few more people looking at Leopard Server. I think it’s one of the greatest deals in the tech world.
Update: The package arrived from Apple today, just short of two weeks after I requested a copy. They have sent a short letter talking about the benefits of Leopard Server and a serial number that will expire in about three month. They’ve also send both retail DVD’s of the Leopard Install and the Admin Tools.
For those readers who haven’t seen it yet, we took some photos of the packaging and internals of the new Mac mini yesterday. It can be seen here.
We’ll be benchmarking the new mini as a server in the next couple days.
Apple has released the new Mac mini this morning. We should have one here by the end of the day, but in the mean time I’ll share the benefits that I can see.
First, the Mac mini can officially support 4GB of RAM now. Before, it was 2GB officially and 3.36GB unofficially. We’ll have a lot of customer who will really like the RAM increase. And I’m really looking forward to the unofficial high end.
The hard drives are bigger now which will be nice for those who do their podcasts from their server.
The back of the Mac mini now has 5 USB ports (up from four) and now has Firewire 800 (up from 400.) This is great as well. (see below)
Like I said, we’ll have one of the new Mac minis soon and I’ll post a real thorough review with benchmarks. Also, I know we have quite a few customers who were waiting for the new Mac mini before they signed up for the service. We’ve added the new machines to our signup page.