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Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 30, 2020 12:46PM
After much reflection and research, I think that rather than buying and setting up a NAS as my Plex server, security camera server and backup server (background can be found here):

[forums.macresource.com]
[forums.macresource.com]

I'd rather just relegate my desktop Mac mini to our equipment rack and have it continue to serve as our Plex and security camera servers and make it our backup server (over the network)

I was trying to avoid this as I don't really have the time/energy to keep up with two Macs (the mini and an Air that I would most likely get as a replacement for the mini as my 'desktop' and mobile Mac) - I'm trying to make my life less complicated

However, since the mini is already set up as Plex and camera servers, it doesn't make sense to spend all the time and effort (and extra money) on migrating those functions to a NAS that I have yet to buy

Additionally, corresponding with the good Carbon Copy Cloner folks, they strongly recommend using the mini as the backup destination for our household rather than a NAS

So, to that end, I'm asking for advice on how to 'downgrade' the mini from serving as my primary computer to essentially a NAS. I would like to have to perform as little upkeep as possible on the mini, meaning I just want the bare minimum apps/software installed to serve my needs, only required user accounts to serve those needs, etc.

I'm thinking I would uninstall everything not related to Plex, my security cameras, Carbon Copy Cloner and software allowing me to remote into it (I have Screens currently)

Also, I would probably set it up to automatically update macOS whenever updates are available

Lastly, I would need it to run headless and so I'm guessing I need to get one of those 'dummy' HDMI adapters that tricks it into thinking a monitor is installed - any recommendations or advice on that front?

Ideally, I'd like to remote into it in such a way that it would feel like I'm just using it at the native resolution it's currently running connected to my 27 inch 4K monitor - will that be possible?

Anything else I'm missing or you would advise for or against?

Thanks



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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: bazookaman
Date: December 30, 2020 12:54PM
My Mini used to be my main computer. So I just removed all my "stuff", uninstalled all the apps I didn't need and unplugged the monitor. That was pretty much it. I think I have one of those dummy HDMI plugs but you don't NEED it. I remote in via screen sharing from any computer. I can Teamviewer in to sort of. I still have issues with getting it set up just right. It's worked so far. Probably been a year?

The biggest issue I have is the stupid Drobo sometimes doesn't remount after I reboot the Mini. So then I need to remote in to "see" what's happening. But I also need to be AT the computer/Drobo set up. So I need to take my laptop into the closet and remote in. Doesn't happen a lot. But it does. Probably the most annoying part. But thats a Drobo problem. Not a Mac problem.

I also remote in every now and then just to check on updates and things like that. Make sure everything is running smoothly etc.

Also, when I log in via screen sharing the resolution is 1280x1024. I cannot change it (other than making it 800x600).







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/30/2020 12:56PM by bazookaman.
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: Bixby
Date: December 30, 2020 01:17PM
Why not just use the mini in the server functionality as well as your primary computer?
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 30, 2020 01:19PM
Quote
Bixby
Why not just use the mini in the server functionality as well as your primary computer?

That's what it's doing right now, but...

I want something that's mobile, mainly for around the house but also on rare occasions for outside the house

Right now, every time I need to do something that's easier to do (or only possible) on a Mac, I have to go back to the other end of the house, in our study, to get my work done
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: davemchine
Date: December 30, 2020 01:30PM
I use a 2012 Mini for similar purposes to you. I had the router assign it a fixed ip address so it is always easy to access. I use Apple's Screen Sharing to control it but I also have Edovia's Screens installed for accessing it away from home. The model of Mini I have doesn't activate the video card if nothing is plugged into it so I keep an old small monitor attached. I've read there is a plug that can trick it into activating the video card but I don't have one. I also attached an extra external drive to act as the Time Machine backup. You mentioned doing automatic updates and I definitely would NOT do that. Just let it sit there and do it's job. My 2 cents.



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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 30, 2020 01:35PM
@davemchine, why no automatic updates?

Less friction and maintenance that I would have to do if it updates on its own, right?
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: btfc
Date: December 30, 2020 02:59PM
External drive?

Yes, assigned ip.

Leave mini as is, enable sharing, map it.
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 30, 2020 03:04PM
What does 'map it' mean?
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: btfc
Date: December 30, 2020 03:19PM
[setapp.com]
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Re: Downgrading desktop Mac mini to headless server mini
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 30, 2020 04:29PM
Quote
btfc
[setapp.com]

That's helpful, thank you for that

Looks like it will take some setup to make sure that nightly backups from each Mac in the house to the mini via Carbon Copy Cloner will take some initial setup but hopefully not much maintenance after that
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