I asked a question about using Mac Minis as servers. It was upvoted and then closed without comment and moved to SuperUser. Why?

I am using these Mac Minis as servers and in a professional capacity. I'm not clear on how this doesn't fit on ServerFault. To quote the ServerFault FAQ:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Server Fault is for system administrators and IT professionals, people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity. If you are in charge of …

  • servers
  • networks
  • many desktop PCs (other than your own)

... then you're in the right place to ask your question! Well, as long as the question is about your servers, your networks, or desktops you support, anyway.

| |
  • 1
    Hacking a "server" together from the spare parts you have (Mac Mini included) doesn't make it server grade. Your essentially asking how to configure desktop hardware, which has nothing to do with administering a network of computers or a server. – Chris S Nov 20 '10 at 3:28
  • 3
    If that is the intention of ServerFault, I think the FAQ needs to be changed. The phrase "If you are in charge of ... many desktop PCs" should be removed and replaced with "hard core servers capable of serving thousands of users". – paleozogt Nov 20 '10 at 4:37
  • 1
    I too believe that SF is becoming overly pedantic with regard to systems administration. My particular job entails many different scenarios. I've helped manage networks from 10,000 workstations and > 100's of servers spread out over an entire state, to networks with 1 server and 10 workstations and everything in between. It was ALL systems administration. What I gleaned from the big setups, certainly helped me on the smaller setups. – GregD Nov 23 '10 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Chris S putting server in quotes doesn't change the fact that mac minis can be used as low-end servers (see apple.com/macmini/server). Just because you're not a fan of Macs doesn't mean that questions about them aren't appropriate for SF. – paleozogt Nov 23 '10 at 15:19
  • 1
    being a fan of a particular company has nothing to do with it. Taking desktop grade hardware and creating a server from it does not infer professional grade reliability, manageability, or capability. Even Apple is careful to call it a "desktop server". I understand you disagree with the generally accepted interpretation of the FAQ, but this is a collaboratively edited (clearly stated in the FAQ) and you'll be subjected to others' opinions. – Chris S Nov 23 '10 at 15:45

For the record, I up-voted this question.

I guess I am getting really annoyed at the bias these from some people that seems to be along the lines that if you are supporting thousands of users, or have a 5 nine SLA, then you aren't a system administrator.

Supporting equipment for small offices, schools and so on lower-end equipment is a fact of life faced by some system administrators. Calling Apple hardware non-professional hardware is silly, particular since Apple sells it with a server OS, and redundant drives. Being a professional is about attitude, not about your hardware budget in my opinion.

| |
  • You're right, being a professional IS about attitude. That was my point, although I could have made it better. Regardless of scale an admin should understand the difference between a server and a workstation used for server roles. – John Gardeniers Nov 24 '10 at 1:20

I am sad to see this attitude from Server Fault.

Apple has officially stated they will discontinue the XServe and the Transition Guide the correct path would be a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini.

Am I therefore assuming anyone using Mac Pro or Mac Mini's as servers are not welcome on SF?

| |
  • 2
    Mac Pro's i can see the case for being servers (heck that's what OSX Servers where BEFORE there was an X-Server) mac mini's ARE NOT SERVERS, they are glorified laptops. Actually ... looking at the apple store ... Mac pros ARE servers with crappy HD's and spiffy video cards. Also i'm open to re-evaluation if apple decides to update the mac mini specs, but my guess is they are using them to compete w/ Windows Home Server (which is also off topic here). – Zypher Nov 23 '10 at 15:25
  • 5
    @Zypher Please note the following is my opinion I think your being very short sighted in your view of what they are capable of, however I do respect your right to an opinion. Mine however differs strongly. I work for a company that has 5000+ users and 15000+ at peak include 900+ off site locations. Off those, 1500+ is Mac users, served by big surprise 2 Mac Mini servers, providing full Mac OSX server functionality and joined to a full AD domain. So my response is based on actual experience in an environment where they are considered servers. – BinaryMisfit Nov 23 '10 at 16:26

I think closing this question was a mistake. There are hosting companies that provide their services using Apple TV, let alone Mac Mini.

You might disagree with this, but if your boss tells you that is what you have to work with, unless it drives you out of your job, you remain the sysadmin with responsibility for those Apple TVs.

If a useful resource like Server Fault is going to turn its backs on people based on what hardware they are operating on, then you are excluding people doing sysadmin jobs in the developing world, non-profits, educational establishments. And pretty quickly ServerFault becomes HP/IBM/Dell Server Fault, because some other brand also sucks.

There is nothing stopping you from saying you don't think Mac Mini's are appropriate material for servers, but there is also nothing stopping you moving on to a question you do want to answer. I've seen other questions shuffled off Server Fault, where if the OP hadn't mentioned something like hardware type, they would have got a decent answer, maybe even from the person who voted to close the question.

Closing the question is just mean.

| |
  • We just got a Mac mini at work so we can support a growning number of Mac users. It says Mac Mini Server on the box. – dunxd Jan 7 '11 at 17:47

I'm a bit torn on this one...

I disagree on the premise that because a Mac Mini is not typical server hardware that it doesn't belong on SF.

I agree that it belongs on SU because the nature of the question has little to do with Systems Admin; it's more to do with hardware configuration. (It has nothing to do with how you use the machine.)

| |

It was migrated to superuser as that is a better fit. I'm sorry but mac minis are just not a professional server and you'll have much more chance of getting an answer at superuser.

| |
  • Ahem: serverfault.com/questions/147019/… – paleozogt Nov 18 '10 at 22:56
  • 1
    @pale - you'll notice that that question was answered by the same person who asked it. Also, it might have just slipped through the cracks as the clsoe votes do fall off after a while. I agree with Zypher on this one. – Mark Henderson Nov 19 '10 at 4:42
  • 3
    I strongly disagree with your bias against a particular type of hardware. Perhaps you have(had) the nice advantage of supporting huge installations, but a mac mini can be argued to be adequate hardware for a small office, for satellite office, or for performing some less-critical secondary role. – Zoredache Nov 22 '10 at 19:42
  • 1
    @Zoredache I'm sorry but a mac mini is a low end piece of desktop hardware. Just because it is adequate for a job doesn't mean that it's professional. Would you call a laptop i had sitting around a "professional server" ? because that's what a mac mini is on it's insides, a laptop in a pretty case without a monitor. – Zypher Nov 22 '10 at 19:51
  • 2
    By your definition of professional I wouldn't call custom built-equipment server either. Which would seem to exclude many of Jeff's initial hardware choices and questions for this site. The comment about being a professional is about the person, not the tools. – Zoredache Nov 22 '10 at 19:56
  • @Zoredache ... well lets not get carried away ... I said low end desktop and laptop hardware i don't consider professional. I would say it has to do with both the hardware and the person. Also Jeff went from hosted dedicated servers to buying lenovo servers so ... no building there either. I mean for the ~1k a mac mini "server" + OS X Server costs you can get a real server machine from dell or HP. – Zypher Nov 22 '10 at 20:19
  • If you disagree with me I guess that is fine. But, it really bugs me when moderator casts the relocate-vote first. If a couple other users had voted to move, I suspect I would just accepted that the community had decided. – Zoredache Nov 22 '10 at 23:31
  • @zypher - Have you looked at the laptops that most enterprises issue to their employees? Calling them "Low End" is an insult to the low end. They're closer to oversized netbooks, most of the time... (Compaq/HP, and sometimes Dell, I'm looking at you...) – gWaldo Nov 23 '10 at 13:33
  • @gWaldo actually the Dell e series of notebooks have better specs than the mac mini. – Zypher Nov 23 '10 at 14:23
  • We have a Mac Mini in our datacenter right now. It's acting as an off-campus DNS for a peer .edu institution. It certainly caused a lot of head-scratching on our part, especially since they're a bit larger than us and we wouldn't touch a Mini. But it does the job. – sysadmin1138 Nov 23 '10 at 22:08

A key part of the FAQ that you have overlooked, and which is relevant to the referenced question is the bit about IT professionals. My opinion, which may or may not be shared by others, is that a true professional doesn't use cut-down workstations as servers in a professional capacity. If you act as an amateur you will be treated accordingly. For the record, I use a couple of old PCs to perform some server tasks but I'm under no illusion that this makes them servers.

Had I seen your question about the minis I would not have hesitated to vote to move. SF is getting swamped with non-professional questions and is suffering greatly under that load.

| |
  • 2
    I must respectfully disagree, John. A server is a computer that provides a service. And while I've considered myself an IT Professional for years, there have been few instances when I had hardware purchasing decision-making. Not to mention a new gig and you have to support the existing environment. (Read: Somebody else's decisions.) A professional may gripe about how their predecessor was a clueless moron, but he still does the support. Yes, that includes Macs and Mac Minis. – gWaldo Nov 23 '10 at 13:45
  • 2
    Further, Apple doesn't provide a rack-mount server any longer. They have a guide to transitioning to the new choices (Mac Pro or Mac Mini), and are very explicit about the loads that you can expect to put on a Mini. How many grossly overpowered servers do you have in your datacenter? How many who barely trip over 10-15% (and that's usually at startup?!) Look at your LDAP or Web Servers... Now take a SMB, and the cost restraints that they have. I'm the first to say that server hardware has it's place (HP Proliant certified, after all), but the Mini fills a need as well. – gWaldo Nov 23 '10 at 13:52
  • @gwaldo +1 for overpowered servers! Mac Mini are great product for Small Business, new companies or even LABs, I have seen people using mac mini for windows server (native) and or with OSX Server. plus it can go upto 8GB RAM now :-) so it can be a good machine !!! not to forget the backup technologies like BESR 2010 with which you can keep an image all the time in-case it goes down and restore it to another box right away ! – rihatum Nov 23 '10 at 14:53
  • mac mini servers: apple.com/macmini/server – paleozogt Nov 23 '10 at 15:12
  • 2
    You've never supported a non-profit I take it? – GregD Nov 23 '10 at 15:16

I support @Zoredache and the original posters point and comments http://www.macminicolo.net/

Mac mini can be used as a SERVER !!!!

a SERVER isn't represented by the type of Hardware, it is represented by the type of role it is playing for the user ; people install windows server on workstations to use it as a temporary server - we do.

We should just answer the question if we know the answer !

the servers one can get for $1000 are very limited too, with not alot of hard drives or not of the capacity one would like to see in a server.

in last - MacMini or a dell dimension 5000 with 4GB ram with ONE Disk can be used as a server. It depends what you are doing on it and

| |
  • 1
    -1 "a SERVER isn't represented by the type of Hardware" - When we're talking about hardware, labeling it a server is on basis of the hardware. – Chris S Nov 29 '10 at 14:28

I worked for a company that is a small resort. They had all manner of systems. It was a very heterogeneous environment. 3 stores, 3 restaurants, Lodging, Small Call Center, Reservation System, Event Photography Setup.

Whenever I was asked about buying stuff I always distinguished between enterprise grade and SOHO grade. There wasn't always a good enterprise grade solution medium sized business, just stuff for small business and large business.

So my argument is, enterprise grade shouldn't be the definition of whether or not something is Server Fault worthy, it should be if it's done by a person that is a sysadmin or could be useful to an IT professional.

| |
  • You seem to have only observed two extremes. Contrary to what you say there ARE a lot of servers and other systems designed for medium sized businesses, as well as those for small and large. – John Gardeniers Jan 18 '11 at 1:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .