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View Full Version : Looking for a new server - Suggestions?



LikeButtah
2007-12-11, 20:25
Hey team,

I'm looking to set up a new music server for my SB3 setup. So far I'm considering either a used mac mini with an external drive, or getting an old g4 and pumping up the ram...

I'm open to suggestions though, my only requirement is that its apple and its quietish.

So.. any ideas where to get cheap reliable used macs? Anything better I could be doing that doesn't involve a PC? Any thoughts in general???

Thanks all.

pfarrell
2007-12-11, 20:58
I don't speak Mac, but I've used left over PCs with Linux for years. Works great.

Or get a new silent system like a Via fanless.

Unless you are doing a lot of transcoding, the cpu requirements are pretty modest. Memory is always good, but the key for a SlimServer is disk space. Even disk speed is not all that important.

haunyack
2007-12-11, 21:02
...but the key for a SlimServer is disk space.

Yes, the weak link.
I've recently added 750gb x 2 of disk space and am running short again.
Seriously considering building a fileserver just for the library.

.

iPhone
2007-12-12, 16:05
I'm looking to set up a new music server for my SB3 setup. So far I'm considering either a used mac mini with an external drive, or getting an old g4 and pumping up the ram...

I'm open to suggestions though, my only requirement is that its apple and its quietish.

So.. any ideas where to get cheap reliable used macs? Anything better I could be doing that doesn't involve a PC? Any thoughts in general???

My first question would be why does it "HAVE" to be MAC based? My opinion using a MAC is a real waste of horsepower as well as dollars, plus one does not have to use Microsoft products on an NAS (UNIX based Linux type OS). My ReadyNAS NV+ ran out of space so I am building my own 6 drive NAS. This is fairly simple and not overly expensive. Any old MB w/ processor that has PCI slots will work. Cases for this type of server are ones that will hold 4 to 6 3.5-inch drives with an empty space between each drive (longer drive life). One can have the choice of either PATA or SATA drives. I suggest SATA drives (though more expensive for controller) as they are going to be the drive of the future and are getting larger and cheaper all the time. If going with SATA drives, one needs to buy three new products plus drives for a built from leftovers NAS Server. First is a power supply that will power the MB, floppy drive, Optical Drive, and 4 to 6 Hard Drives. Second is an LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA 150-6 drive controller card (E-BAY is the place to get this). Third is a $20 Gigabyte Ethernet card.

Next assemble your server and choose your operating system: Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora, or any of the other free UNIX based OS. As long as the MB does not mask Interrupt 19 any operating system is fine. If it does mask 19, you will need a Linux that closely resembles MS-DOS so you can get to the MegaRAID card if there is a boot problem. The advantage of using the MegaRAID card is that you do not have to “know” the Linux OS inside and out. The card hardware does all the array building. It is also my opinion that Hardware RAID is better then software RAID. As long as the Server will power to interrupt, you can get to the drives because of the card.

Even buying all parts the cost is fairly acceptable at around $390 minus drives. Power Supply $40, case $30, MB/Processor $69 (Micro Center), LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA 150-6 $169, RAM $40, Gigabyte Ethernet card $20, Optical Drive $25, OS Free. So using what one already has around the house can reduce the cost so that most of the new money goes into larger drives. Lastly if you go the SATA route and run out of space, you can buy a larger LSI controller card and expand your drives to 16. For the non-frugal, ASUS makes a MB with a 6 drive controller on the board that sells for about $300 on EBAY. If you go the PATA route you can get a 4 IDE LSI controller for about $35 on EBAY making this a very low cost way to go!

Eric Seaberg
2007-12-12, 18:57
My first question would be why does it "HAVE" to be MAC based?

Let me help you with that... I bought a refurb Mac MINI and am using it as my server. Now I know there's LOTS of PC/Linux guys on this list, but the BEST thing about using a Mac as a server is having iTunes handle all of the tagging in a simple, "I CAN SEE IT" kind of way. I rip to Apple Lossless, and would prefer FLAC if Apple would ever bow to it, but have got everything playing very happily together.

It's simple, has a very obvious and easy to understand GUI (iTunes, that is) and does what I need it to do. Lots of options for external storage (I've got 500GB firewire that sits under the MINI and looks just like it), it sits in a closet with power, ethernet and the 500GB drive and I never see it.

Ripping is done on a different Mac in the house by mounting the MINI drive over the network. When I'm done ripping, and letting iVolume do its thing, I unmount the drive and have SlimServer re-scan. It all works.

It has a static IP address, so my SB3s and Transporter always see it... no Windows network junk to deal with, and plays the music I want without hiccups or dropouts... even running at UN-LIMITED bandwidths (wired and wireless).

I'm glad to help anyone put together a system like this. I've had it running for 14-months without EVER turning it off!!

iPhone
2007-12-13, 09:48
Let me help you with that... I bought a refurb Mac MINI and am using it as my server.

OK Eric, help me get my head around this idea. First it looks great if one has a small CD collection and does not have all their digital music ALREADY ripped to FLAC (4263 CDs ripped to FLAC and counting). How much storage can one hang off the mini? From the Apple website, currently it is cheaper to buy a first run Mini then a refurbished one if all one needs is the base model at $599 (refurbished start at $649). The price difference between the home built NAS and Mac Mini approximately equals the price of buying ones first 1TB hard drive. Lastly, I personally do not want to be chained to Apple’s Lossless format. Which is why my choice ended up being FLAC. Once ripped to FLAC, I can make whatever file type I want/need from it including putting an exact copy of the CD/Song on CD-R if I desire.

I have close to 16,000 CDs. The NAS I am building has six 1TB Hitachi Hard Drives in the hope that I will be able to finish ripping my full CD collection to FLAC. Could I hang 12 or more 500 GB Firewire drives off a Mac Mini and have the drive failure protection advantages of RAID 5? A Linux based NAS Server offers many additional advantages other then price.

LikeButtah
2007-12-13, 14:00
iPhone, you're onto something, but I just can't be bothered to wrap my head around linux, or build the box myself for that matter. I'm a simple man, with a busy schedule. I want something to set up quickly, that works well. In any case, there will be no keyboard, mouse, or monitor hooked up to this system. Just AC and ethernet, and I want OSX so I can control it via Chicken of the VNC from my BlacBook. Also, even if you already have your collection ripped to FLAC, you can still store it on a Mac, its not like NTFS and Flac are incompatible... I'm a Mac user with no ALAC whatsoever...

Though I'm sure Linux + custom is best bang for the buck, I don't mind paying more for something that suits my needs better (and is prettier, lets be honest, aesthetics are important).

That being said, I decided to buy a used 733mhz G4 with 1gb of RAM for $350 (CAD). I've got a 500gb drive kicking around that I'll shove up in there, and I'll be all set! The mini, while cute, would probably be a bad idea for what I'm trying to do here.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone for all the suggestions!!!!1

Oh, and Eric, do you know of any good tagging programs for FLAC for Mac? I miss EAC and tag & rename, though I'm otherwise completely in love with my BlacBook. (let's face it, quicksilver is just the best thing ever)

Eric Seaberg
2007-12-13, 16:21
The storage I have on my MINI is firewire and I can chain as many drives as I want. Apple's lossless is LOSSLESS just like FLAC... no DRM! ALAC was co-designed with many other companies, including Dolby Labs, and can do the same things FLAC can... it's just not free like FLAC is.

As far as FLAC tagging on a Mac, I have a program called TAG that works ok. I also do some FLAC encoding, primarily of DTS or AC3 5.1 WAV files for playing on my Transporter. I use MAX for that.

Whatever you want to do... I'm just sharing my experience with the MINI. If that's what you want to do and want some help, please feel free to contact me off-line.