Choosing the Right Mac for Your Server
There are four types of Macs to consider using as a server: Mac mini, iMac, Mac Pro, and the discontinued Xserve. Additionally, a MacBook Pro running a server in a virtual machine can work as a testing platform. Each Mac is good for some type of network, and no size fits all. The specifications for Mac models change every year, so it’s a good idea to check the Apple website from the Tech Specs link on each Mac’s web page.
You don’t need a brand-new Mac, though. A server is a good use for an older Mac, provided it has enough power for what you plan to do with it and meets the minimum requirements.
You also don’t need a display monitor connected to the server. After you install Mountain Lion Server, you can run the server headless, using the Mountain Lion Server administration tools on another Mac on the network.
Mac mini as a server
While I was writing the first version of this book, Snow Leopard Server For Dummies, an internal reviewer scoffed at the idea of using a mini as a server platform, saying that it “makes no sense.” I was undaunted. Several months after the book’s publication, Apple came out with a special server version of the Mac mini.
I would like to believe that Apple read the book and thought, “What a great idea!” For years, however, many people have been using Mac minis as servers. They’re inexpensive, fit in small spaces, and are very quiet. You can use a single Mac mini for a small group of Macs for basic services or as a ...