I'm debating buying a mac mini with the regular client OS or the model with the server os for the purposes of replacing my home server. Are there any advantages for such a use with the server os?

  • Should be on serverfault. – Josh K Apr 6 '10 at 3:44
  • If you have to ask then you probably don't need the server. – gavaletz Apr 6 '10 at 5:15
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    @Josh K: Nope, Server Fault is for pros. This is a guy with a home server, and this doesn't look like a question a pro would ask. Super User is the right place. – David Thornley Apr 6 '10 at 14:50

There are advantages and disadvantages, of course. Should you buy the server version? As always, the answer is, "it depends." Do you need to run any of the following?

Most or all of these features are available in free, open source products (in fact, many of them are based on the open source projects). You can add OpenLDAP, OpenVPN, Apache, Samba, Calendar Server, etc. to a client Mac OS X installation if you want. However, Mac OS X Server wraps them up into a nice, aesthetic, easy-to-administer package. This could be a net positive or negative to you depending on what you want from this machine.

By purchasing a Mac mini server, the extra hard drive is nice but you sacrifice the DVD drive. This might be a deal breaker depending on what else you plan to use this home server for. You can always add an external one, but that is extra cost and hassle. Again, it's a trade-off.

  • It sounds pointless for me to use it as it only seems to add centralized management interface (don't know how I missed that link). I'm guessing that Server would be nice for a small business needing Web hosting, wiki hosting, calendar server, mail server, etc. My purposes are primarily for: attaching a firewire 800 external RAID5 enclosure, using as a central iTunes/AppleTV server, recording ATSC TV, and running a cctv monitor. I'll probably use Apache for internal things, but nothing that can't be done with the standard OS. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something really cool. – Donald Hughes Apr 7 '10 at 0:43

Without knowing what you use your current server for, the client OS Mini may fit all your necessary needs.

wikipedia lists the features of the server OS. I know that some of these can be added to the client version if necessary. Also the clientOS Mini comes with iLife.

I use mine(clientOS model) as a media storage/server with a couple of large disks running in a firewire 800 enclosure, which fits my needs nicely.

  • You're doing exactly what I'm going for. Right now, I'm running Ubuntu with a RAID1 array for data. After a disappointingly complex adventure in setting up AFP on Ubuntu and now that I've outgrown my RAID1 array and am looking to expand beyond a pair of disks, I'm looking at alternatives. The only thing I found disappointing about the Mac Mini is the lack of eSata, but when the drives are primarily shared over a network it makes little difference if it's eSata or Firewire 800. – Donald Hughes Apr 7 '10 at 0:33
  • well, in addition to the slower bus, the drives themselves are WD Green drives that run at 5900 rpm. For basic file storage and iTunes library, this is plenty fast. – warrenkopp Apr 7 '10 at 0:56

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