Mac Mini

In the weekend I went out and picked up a little Intel Core Duo 1.66Ghz Apple Mac Mini. I got the model with 512MB RAM and 60GB hard disk, and I am using it as my desktop/home server, freeing up my amd64 for developmental work.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • The unit is almost completely silent! I now leave it on all the time, as it doesn’t bother me with noise, and makes it useful as my home file server.
  • Low power usage – only about 23W whilst idle. (according to apple, and also various other people have measured similar results)
  • The DVD drive is also very quiet when playing DVDs.
  • The sound quality from the integrated audio is very good – just as good as my Creative Audigy LS in my old desktop.
  • It looks REALLY nice. :-)

However, in my adventures with it in the weekend, I found a few things that are a problem:

  • 512MB does not run MacOS very smoothly – if you are going to use MacOS (I used Linux of course), boost it up to 1GB.
  • The DVD drive seems to have read problems on a few very hot days I’ve had. :-/
  • It does not have a BIOS – instead, it has EFI, which means that installing Linux is not as simple as normal.
  • MacOS would crash at startup, leaving me with an all blue screen – I found that this occured whenever it was connected via the KVM! Some kind of nasty bug there…. :-/

Other cool stuff:
If you want a box to run Xen on, the Intel Mac Mini’s support the VT-instructions, that allow you to run unmodified operating systems (eg: MS Windows or legacy OSes) on Xen. If you are interested in that, check out the info here.

Overall, I think it’s a great little unit and would recomend it to anyone after a quiet desktop/small server/media center. :-)

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