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dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)



I’m thinking of setting up my first server for a SoHo creative company environment. Mainly for file sharing, email (Outlook 2011), shared calender, global address book, remote login to access files, and to generally make working collaboratively easier. Syncing data with Mac desktop/laptops, iPhone, iPad, iTouch etc.


Option 1

I have at my disposal a Mac Pro 1,1 2.66GHz with min 8GB RAM, with options on a variety of HDD capacities 2x1TB + 2x400GB (or buy some new 2TB enterprise HDD’s?).


I have the option to run either OSX 10.7 Server, or look at purchasing a copy of OSX 10.6 Server.


Option 2

I could alternatively look at selling the above and investing in a new MacMini Server?


My question is, what are the various pros/cons for each option? Are there any compelling reasons to go one way or the other?


Thanks in advance for any help/tips/advice or recommendations

  • Kevin Neal Level 2 (495 points)

    Option 3 get the 2009 Xserve

  • dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)

    True, that was another option that I have been thinking about. You can get a lot of 'bang for your buck' these days with the price of second hand Xserves, but then I need to consider the size and getting a cabinet to keep it in etc.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)

    Let me start by saying that I run both Lion Server on a Mac Pro 1,1 plus Mountian Lion Server on a Mac mini Server (early 2009 - the first Mac mini Server in fact that came with no DVD) and believe there are big plusses and minues to running both.


    The differences between Lion and Mountain Lion Server aside (I prefer Lion Server FWIW) I typically find that the choice really comes down to the way you want to manage your storage. The moment you have greater storage needs the balance of "better" tips to the Mac Pro. Having 4 x 3.5" SATA drive bays that you can populate for next to no cost can't be beat.


    In the current Mac mini you have 4 storage options… the internal drives (SATA or SSD), Thunderbolt, FireWrire and USB2. USB2 is useless, FireWire is clearly deprecated that that leaves internal and Thunderbolt. Interally it's limited and Thunderbolt is extremely expensive and options currently are limted. If you go and price a new Mac Pro + 4 x 2TB enterprise drives and then comparitively price a Mac mini + Promise 4 x 2TB Thunderbolt storage solution you'll find that the difference isn't that much. In fact you get the Mac Pro itself for "mere pennies".


    The big downside for Mac Pro 1,1 is that it can't run Mountain Lion Server. Looking forward, if it fails and needs replacing what is your next step. Repairs are expensive and replacing it can mean a forced transition to Mountain Lion Server if you're running Lion Server or earlier.


    If you can primarily operate within the storage options of the Mac mini (Time Machine and other can be done externally as it'll happily work under USB2) then that small package is extremely competitive. The downside is potentially being forced into Mountain Lion Server. As I understand it the current Mac minis will still run Lion/Lion Server but I wouldn't bet my house on it.


    Decide what's important and be led by that.


    I love my Mac Pro 1,1 Server and the fact that there's only 3 cables coming out of it, power and 2 x Ethernet, and I'm coverd by RAID, Time Machine and a clone all within the one unit. Something I can't do with anything else.

  • dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for your reply, very helpful!


    It is the ‘limitations that I guess were my main concearn over the MacMini route, and like you, the flexability of the Mac Pro just makes more sense in many ways, plus of course I already have it going ‘spare’.


    Interesting to hear you preferred Lion Server to Mountain Lion Server. I had been reading various reports which seemed to be saying much the same, that Mountain Lion Server was too much of a ‘work in progress’?


    Would you have experience to compare Lion Server to Snow Leopard Server?


    My advantage/disadvantage to the server software experience side of things, is that I have nothing to compare it against, as I have not used any of them since a way, way earlier inacrnation, and even then it was very briefly, so I will be coming at it without any baggage, but lots to learn!

  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)

    We were in exactly the same situation, the Mac Pro was going "spare" after I (it was actually my system) upgraded to a rMBP. And in that change going from a system with 6TB storage down to 256GB some things really had to change and part of that came an implementation that needs no cables (other than power for my rMBP).


    Had I not had the Mac Pro we would have built an implementation around a Mac mini server (which was our server at the time) and would have been thinking with the same, more clostly, individual workstation mentality. An interesting consequence of this change is that I can actually opt for an 11" MBA as a primary computer with no change in work habit other than with screen size.


    With Lion vs ML Server, I see it in rather simple terms. Lion Server does what I want where ML Server doesn't, or, does it in a way I don't like. In "dumbing it down" Apple have actually made running server more difficult. It's not particularly what it's doing, as both do mostly the same thing. My problem is that it's harder to see what's going on with ML Server and you seemingly just have to accept that it's doing the right thing… which it's often not. Don't get me wrong, Lion Server has its own problems and isn't as good a server as Snow Leopard but does enough for me that I can overlook much of what was lost from SL. I think Lion for me is a better mentality match than SL.


    Anyway, if you're new to Server then the best thing I can suggest is to do your homework and don't be afraid to try things. You're going to make a boatload of errors that you need to go back to a clone or reinstall completely. To give you a kickstart here's a site that goes through installing Lion Server…



    It's written for Lion Server although will give you an idea of all the things you need to consider when installing OS X Server of whichever flavour. I actually mostly did it so I could remember what needs doing with a basic install as it's easy to forget or skip steps. I guess I should write something for ML Server.

  • haykong Level 1 (115 points)

    Hi dubtastic ,


             It all depend on what you want. If you want to be more green and use less power, then I would get a Macmini Server quad-core. I would wait til they released the next gen Macmini 2012 which I am waiting on replacing.


    Since you mentioned that you want things to be able to sync more easier and managed for different "iDevices" I would recommend Mac OS 10.8.2 with OS X Server 2.1.1.



    I know it's has been a pain for sometime transiting from 10.6.8 Server to 10.7.X and to the earlier versions of 10.8.1. and OS X server 2.1.1


    I know SMBX has been more stable for my clients on 10.8.2 Server with OS X 2.1.1 app.  Then compared to Lion Server 10.7.4. However, most of my clients that are using SMBX are using Office 2010 files and pdfs.


    I know recently transitioned my clients Lion Server 10.7.4 to 10.8.2 when they released OS X 2.1.1 app. And only used my own business macmini as a test bed for 10.8.X server..



    Some of my clients offices are about 30+ Mixed with WIndows XP Pro SP3, Vista, and Windows 7 and a Windows 2008 R2 Terminal Server that's an 2x 4core Xeon Processor.


    Then some of them have 30+ ipads in the field for patient intake info. Too bad Apple is not supporting iOS6 for the original iPad which I'm a little upset since the iPhone 3GS is supported.


    Basicaly my clients use OS X Server as file, mail, web, and iDevice server.


    It's true that 10.8 Server has less GUI controls, well then start diving into command line controls and configuration files for more advanced options. It's not bad once you get use to it.


    over all now it's pretty stable with 10.8.2 and OS X 2.1.1 app. I know I can't comment on the Indesign file issues that I read some ppl encountering since non of my clients use indesign so far.


    As for deciding for a computer, it all depends on the companies needs and how many computers they will be serving and how large of storage space they'll need and is energy consumption a concern.


    I know most of my clients aren't that big since they have under 100 employees and a quad-core macmini is fine.



    For me personally, I do have a Mac Pro 2.8ghz  Dual  quad-core Xeon Processor Early 2008.  I don't use it as much anymore besides editing Wedding Photos and other kinds of Photos and I  love the storage space.  However, I would not  want to leave it on full time since it consumes a lot of power.


    Therefore, I have a late Macmini 2009 Server which is left on full time for web,mail, and file sevices. For FTPS I use pureftpd manager 1.8  combined with a recomplied version of pureftpd 1.0.36


    I still haven't dealt with my personal storage issues since I am a part time wedding photographer I do need a lot of space which so far  My Mac Pro with mirrored drives solves that issue partially.


    I plan on getting the new version of the macmini server and will probably end up getting the new Drobo 5D storage device when that gets released.

  • dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)

    The site looks good, thanks for sharing the link, much appreciated. I have aslo seen there is a series of video talkthroughs on youtube, so I’ll watch those and go through as well to get as much background info as possible before dipping my toes into server water!


    Would you recommend installing the Lion server as an upgrade or installing it as a clean server instal on a bare drive from a bootable USB pendrive?

  • dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)

    I had not really considered the eco/power consumption side of things!? Looking at this it looks like its around 171w?


    Your installs/deployment are on a way bigger scale than I was planning for and sounds over my head or probably a bit out of my league at the moment! I was looking to cater for 2-5 people max, although understanding bigger sceanrios is always good in planning for the future!

  • haykong Level 1 (115 points)

    Yeah if you are only dealing with 5 people max then wasting 171w 24x7 over time when it's idling isn't great. Power just adds up over time.Then again I've been moving some of my clients to more greener solutions when their needs for Powerful CPUs aren't as necessary for certain types of servers. On the other hand, they need all the power they can get for a MS Windows Terminal Server.


    If you're not serving large video files or tons of RAW photos, then I think in your case a Mac Mini Server would be fine. You can setup a mirror RAID and use external backup drives. If consider the macmini, I would wait for the new Mac Mini 2012 Server which is rumored to ship in the next few weeks.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)

    I had not really considered the eco/power consumption side of things!?


    Well the same thoughts went through our heads but realistically you need to look at the consumption difference, not the consumption on its own. It's not like a Mac mini with drives plugged into uses no power and the way we figured it it wasn't that much different once everything was all added up. And to be honest, it's not like the system wasn't on 8-10 hours in the day anyway while I was using it as my workstation.

  • dubtastic Level 1 (0 points)

    True. It would be interesting to see what the running costs would be in terms of money/hour, but then again maybe I don’t want to know that with the amount of time I’m working at my Macs everyday!


    I imagine the Xserves+Xraids with dual controlers/back-up power supplies etc. are going to be fairly hefty on the electric!!!


    BTW; Would you recommend installing the Lion server as an upgrade or installing it as a clean server instal on a bare drive from a bootable USB pendrive?

  • haykong Level 1 (115 points)

    However, it depends on what your needs are. Say for example if you don't think you need more than say a 750GB for you needs, A Macmini server is fine.  Take for example let's say You have a Macmini Server late 2009. When idling it uses about 13-15watts if I recall.. Then when in Full CPU Max it's about 35watts. Since it's a mail/web/ftps/file  server it's going to be on 24hrs and 7 days a week.


    vs say

    Your Mac Pro 2.6ghz. It takes 171watts when idling, then takes 250watts when in full CPU max. Over it all adds up over time.



    This is just leaving the computer as a server and not doubling up as a workstation.  Again it all depends what your storage requirements are. Do you think you can deal with less space.



    But again since you are only servering max 5 people you don't need a very heavy and powerful setup, but again it all depends on what you want to serve. If you're serving RAW Photos and large video files... Then sure Mac Pro works better for that situation. If you're only doing modest size files such as office files, pdfs, etc etc.. then Mac Mini with internal soft RAID is fine for mirorring.


    I use to be in the mind set that I needed the most powerful Machine for servers, but as I factor in needs all that changed.


    These days laptop processor are getting so powerful with quad-core I think it's great.


    Eventually I'll replace my Mac Pro dual x 4-core machine with something else editing wedding photos, but for my 24x7 server needs a macmini does fine.


    However, most of my clients have more than 1 server since each type of server suits different needs.


    Since you have the Mac Pro, you can use it, but I think a mac mini does fine. Note At least this, If your Mac Pro now isn't left on 24x7 and when you do turn it on as a a full time server, you'll notice a much large increase in your electric bill.


    However at least it would be interesting to see how much of an increase it would be in a few months.


    It's just something to consider in the long run of 3-5 years.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)

    I have to say that while the environmental concern did weigh on us, the way we saw it, and still see it, is the regardless of the power usage of the Mac Pro, it was still going to be an environmentally better choice that what is required to buy any Mac mini and required drives. The environmental damage by producing that one extra Mac mini unit from start to finish must surely be more than any difference in power consumption that a Mac Pro may have. And that's before considering the added consumption that is required by us to pay for a Mac mini to replace a Mac Pro we already had.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)

    Your Mac Pro 2.6ghz. It takes 171watts when idling, then takes 250watts when in full CPU max. Over it all adds up over time.


    You can't use the fact that the Mac Pro is 99% of the time idling (which it is) for a small workgroup environment to support one argument and then say it's using quite a bit more at maximum CPU saturation to support another. It's either sitting there doing "not a lot" or it's not.


    While you're right in saying that under load a Mac mini's 4-core i7 will be way more power efficient than a Mac Pro's Xeons but I have to say that when looked at an environmental standpoint the production of an extra Mac mini has a greater impact to the Mac Pro that already exists. When looked at a cost perspective, the $1000+ cost of a Mac mini is a quite the boat-load of power… probably more than 10 years of power difference to running a Mac Pro.

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