One of my brothers gave me his old Apple Mac Mini that he had replaced with a newer version. I thought I could perhaps replace my current web server with the Mac Mini and save some money on electricity. The current server, which runs 24/7, has an Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM and 4.5 TB of hard disk storage.
I bought a 3 TB USB disk for $120, and a USB keyboard and mouse for $30. The server needs two Ethernet ports, one to connect to the WAN, and one to connect to the house LAN. The Mac Mini has a single built-in Ethernet port and a wireless Ethernet chip. Using wireless is not really good for a server, so my brother gave me a USB-to-Ethernet adapter to get the second wired Ethernet port. He also put a 750 GB disk inside the Mini to replace the original 60 GB disk. That gave me 3.7 TB of disk storage, which was less than the current sever, but enough.
So, for $150, I had my new low-power server.
The web server hosts
- five separate websites, of which saveandconquer.com is one
- a mail server for the five web domains
- an incremental backup server to backup all computers on our house LAN. (That’s the reason I need so much disk storage.)
- a streaming music server sending music and podcasts to three stereos in the house.
I installed Ubuntu Linux on the Mini, and cloned all the data from the old server. I wired the Mini in the old server’s place and let it rip. It turns out the load was just too much for the Mini. The Mini is one of the first Mac Minis to have an Intel CPU in it. The computer’s official designation is a Mac Mini 1,1. It contains an Intel Core chip, but it’s not anywhere near as powerful as current Intel CPUs.
So, now the question is what to do with the Mac Mini. It turns out that it does have enough power to feed video streams to our HDTV. I removed of a bunch of server software that I wouldn’t need, like the email server, the web server, the SQL database software, WordPress, and the music server. I then installed XBMC.
From the XBMC website, “XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.”
XBMC on the Mac Mini looks great. I have been working to put our collection of DVDs on the Mini, as well as all of our digital photos. (I actually just pointed it at the photos that are stored on our old server.) Now, where’s the popcorn? Mystery Science Theater 3000, anyone?
What do you do with old computers? Have you ever repurposed an old computer?