Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Got to Get Me a Mini

I think Sun and Apple are doing real innovation in the commercial software and hardware spaces, unlike many of their competitors. I already own an old Sun Ultra 30, and I plan to buy several Sun Ray thin clients at work. I've been looking for an excuse to get an Apple system of some kind ever since Mac OS X was released. Since I run FreeBSD on my Thinkpad a20p laptop, I don't need another desktop or laptop system. I've also vowed to never buy another tower form factor PC again. It's either small form factor, laptops, or rackmounts from here on. That left buying an Apple Xserve, which was more horsepower than I could justify buying.
Today, Apple released the Mac mini, pictured at right and in Steve Jobs' hands above. This looks like a great little box. Take a look at the back side below. Although it only has one built-in Ethernet port, those two USB 2.0 ports say "additional NICs" to me, assuming I can get a USB-based NIC to work with OS X.
I don't plan to use this Mac as a desktop. Rather, I'll deploy it on my wire shelving in my lab and access it remotely. I'm wondering if I can boot this baby without a monitor attached. This MacFixIt tip suggests connecting an Apple display adapter to fool the Mac into booting without a display attached. It looks like Fink provides VNC packages, so I can access the whole Mac OS X desktop remotely.

If I buy a Mac mini, I'll report how I use it. Maybe once I finish this new book?

8 comments:

jeraklo said...

I don't know why you would use it as some form of firewall/router /anything-other-than-workstation ?
For this purpose, it is better to use some kind of *cheap* i386 based mini-form factor PC such as VIA's Mini-ITX (take a look at www.mini-itx.com, it's unofficial but very interesting site). It is a full-blown PC with size somewhat larger than CD box.
Once a while I bought two of these ITX PC-s (it was EPIA-800) for $150 (!) each and used them as linux based firewalls (Gentoo distro). I beleive FreeBSD could run on it with no problem.

Richard Bejtlich said...

I guess I wasn't clear on why I want this. I like having access to multiple architectures. I have five in my lab already. Adding a PowerPC running Mac OS X makes six.

One Guy Nick said...

A true geek has at least a DEC/Sparc/SGI laying around. I agree here....I would like to add PPC to my list

Joao Barros said...

Since my 3COM NIC on my Dell doesn't support VLANs on Windows (works like a charm on FreeBSD :D ) I use firewire as the other interface, connected to a Windows machine which is bridged to an ethernet interface. You could easily do the same, and firewire beats the crap out of USB NICS ;)

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the off topic comment but I run FreeBSD on my home desktop with Firefox as my browser. When I click on the "Apple" link in the article which links the the slightly misspelled "http://http//www.apple.com/hardware/" it sends me to Microsofts website. I cant for the life of me figure out why...any ideas?

Anonymous said...

thats because firefox does a google 'im feeling lucky search' on 'http', and returns the first match which is microsoft.com. now how they got to the top of the chart for the keyword 'http' ill never know

freemacmini said...
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tweedledeetweedledum said...
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