Interesting proposition. But it should be possible.
In my experience, you do not need an active connection on the "Share from" setting. For example, I will commonly set my laptop to share its Wireless connection over ethernet. Then I will connect my laptop to a raid case or other device in a data center, allowing my ethernet port to hand off a DHCP lease. Meanwhile, the wireless connection is not connected to anything and is getting a 169.254 bonjour address.
So without access to a device to try at the moment, the theory should hold that you can set the Share you connection from to the Mini's ethernet port. Then check the Airport/Wi-Fi port as broadcast port. This should reveal the Wi-Fi Option button, allowing you to define a simple security and an ssid.
Now, the one thing you may have trouble with it DNS. However if the mini is only doing a web demo and you are using relative links, then you should be fine.
This only appears to be the case if you start internet sharing with a cable plugged in. If you enable internet sharing without a cable plugged in, it never starts up the wifi side. If you check the status of wifi from the menubar it appears to be searching for networks to connect to.
Since I want this to come up properly configured when the sales guy boots up the machine, with no intervention, just using internet sharing doesn't seem to do the trick.
Regarding DNS, you are right it isn't needed. But I did set up DHCP service, serving both the wired and wifi side. So if the connection does ever come up, the connecting laptop gets a proper IP address from the server. This works fine if I configure an Ad Hoc network, but unfortunately those don't persist over a reboot.
I'm at a loss at the moment. I've even tried writing a boot time applescript to set up an Ad Hoc wifi network via menus, but unfortunately there has to be a logged in session with a desktop to manipulate. There doesn't seem to be enough control with the networksetup script to configure an ad hoc network. So far I am stymied.
I may be forced to give up and have the sales guy carry a cable with him, but that is a disappointing Plan B.
Unfortunately John, if I could have done that I wouldn't be in this pickle. This is not being done in the United States, but in another country. The clients being visited are in "sensitive" sites, and will not give us access to their internet connection. Worse, we cannot count on the quality of 3G services in these locations.
The people being presented to are key decision makers, and we need to make a good impression with them. Thus the desire to have a box largely out of site, with the only thing on the desk being the small laptop, ideally without a cable. But the fallback appears to be the en0 port, and a cable, unless someone has an idea here.
So, still... Help?
You might need a two-part solution.
The problem mostly hinges around the Mini acting as a base station, which it only does under certain circumstances (i.e. when it's sharing the internet connection).
One solution, therefore, would be to carry a Mini and a small wireless base station of some kind - even the diminuitive Apple AirPort Express would do. The base station would create a small wireless network to which both the Mini Server and the client laptop would connect to. You wouldn't have any issues of the Mini not working due to the lack of en0 connection, and you'd have consistent IP addresses to work with.
Thanks, yes I agree adding an external express would help. A little more expense, and the need for two plugs, but maybe not a big issue.
That said, since the mini can obviously act as a base station in some circumstances, is it technically possible to either coerce it to be a base station at other times (say, for example, coming up with a way to share lo0, which is on my "things to try" list), or to get the box to create an ad hoc network on boot (I have an applescript to do that, but requires that the user be logged in with a display so it can operate the menus - if there is a way to do it with a launch daemon that would be ideal).
Is this a marketing restriction, or a technical one? Am I the only one that thinks a standalone base station serving an application, without any other network connection permanently attached, is a useful configuration?
I have solved my own problem by sharing the loopback network (lo0)!
Here is how to do it:
1. In Terminal, use networksetup to create a network service on lo0:
% sudo networksetup -createnetworkservice LoopbackNet lo0
2. In Server Admin (part of the extra set of admin tools not included in Lion Server for some inexplicable reason) set up DHCP to provide addresses on the wifi network
3. Again in Server Admin, enable NAT, IP forwarding and mapping, with port forwarding enabled. (Internet Sharing might do this, but it didn't work until I did this myself.)
4. In System Preferences => Internet Sharing, share the LoopbackNet service via WiFi (be sure to set up your WiFi as you like in the options).
That's it in a nutshell. (I may have left out a detail or two, feel free to comment if it doesn't work for you and I can help you through it...)
There is one more problem with making this work reliably. When the mini reboots, for some reason OS X does not reliably restart Internet Sharing. I learned from a post in another forum that the simple solution is to kill the bootp daemon in the /etc/rc.local script. This is harmless, since it will be immediately restarted and will bring up Internet Sharing properly as a result.
Put the following into /etc/rc.local:
kill $(cat /var/run/bootpd.pid)
Make sure the /etc/rc.local script is executable by:
% chmod +x /etc/rc.local
after creating the /etc/rc.local script.
Once you reboot, sharing should start reliably.
I found this through a generic search and it's just what I need, I think. My use will be to use an ipad as sole interface to a mac mini using wifi.
So I'm wondering if you've made any changes to this setup in the last 7 months or any other epiphones. Next I'm looking for the best of the vpn clients for ipad.
Thanks for posting your solution which beats the **** out of a menu picking applescript for an adhoc network. I get paranoid that menus will change, timings that are sensitive, etc.
cheers, happy new year!