Drinking the Cupertino Kool-Aid

I bought a Mac Mini tonight.
The Mac Mini is both pretty AND shiny.

Calling All Mac Addicts:

Tell me all the cool things I should do with this box.

I’m hoping to use it for cross-platform software development and experimentation.

Nitty Gritty Details

The glowing screens inside the Apple store at Pentagon City Mall drew me in. My big kids played video games while I got the baby to fall asleep. Finally the lure of returning to the mother ship became too much for me. I spent 9 years as an Apple ][ fan in the 1980s. I walked out with the Mini (the higher-end version with the 2GHz processor, the 120GB hard drive, and the SuperDrive), a Bluetooth keyboard and mighty mouse, and a Canon Pixma MP600 color printer.

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35 thoughts on “Drinking the Cupertino Kool-Aid”

  1. Yay! Welcome back to the mothership. (The first time I went to Cupertino, as an Apple employee) I actually got a “I visited the mothership” shirt at the company store.

    Anyhow…

    Gee, what cool things would you like to do? I can tell you how to take one apart πŸ™‚

    I recommend going cross platform if you want to test. Apple’s BootCamp is fine, if you don’t mind booting your machine over and over again to test. Otherwise I recommend getting Parallels. I use it for all my Windows testing, and it’s been stable and really accurate, even down to color display.

    The mighty mouse takes some getting used to. But I love mine now.

    If and when you want to start mucking around with Apple’s implementation of Apache, let me know. There’s a bit of voodoo involved, though admittedly a lot less with the standard version of Tiger (versus Tiger Server) which is what I’m running the business on.

    The implementation of Apache in Tiger has some weird claws into the GUI (under Sharing in System Preferences). You will find that some command-line commands work, others don’t.

    Also, if you plan to use any of the iLife features, I can walk you through pointing them somewhere other than .Mac. The new version of iLife is far more capable of this, so it’s likely you’ll figure it out on your own.

    OH!!!!!

    One big thing… get a hold of xCode…. you can ask the geniuses for a copy at the Apple Store, or you can wait FOREVER for it to download from Apple’s site:

    http://developer.apple.com/tools/download/

    You MAY have a install CD with your box. Use it if you have it. It will save you a lot of time.

  2. Im a total mac addict — surprised you didnt get the new imac tho!

    I can answer most questions and have done alot of development/various software installation/testing on my machines.

    –k

  3. congrats and welcome back to the fold. It’s just a matter of time til you get an iPhone and an iPod for every room in the house.

    On the vm front, I’ve heard nothing but great things about parallels, but being a huge vmware fan, I have to cast a vote in that direction. Vmware recently released a beta product for osx. Check it out.

    Vaguely related: it seems 10.5 will sport zfs. Their beta implementation is kinda ass – unstable and underperformant, but I really can’t wait to get hold of a full release without having to rely on a hacked up solaris/Linux hybrid.

    Also, I discocered that, with the exception of physically swapping hardware, I can perform my entire job from an iPhone.

  4. The vmware for the Mac isn’t what the vmware for the PC/Linux/etc world is, yet. Has a few rough edges, esp compared to Parallels. Maybe once it gets out of beta…

  5. Yes, load Xcode. Should be on one of your install disks. Once you do that, get Macports (formerly darwinports). You can then use “port” to install any of your favorite open source items. I, btw, prefer using X11, rather Terminal. This should also be on the install disk.

    Get Adium. Check out Quicksilver. If you need visio’ish stuff, see Omnigraffle. Get VLT for the few video stuffs that Quicktime doesn’t do. Grab xPad if you need something for taking notes. Etc.

  6. I think they’re supposed to be, but, haven’t tried. There’s also a way to port (some) vm’s from Vmware to Parallels, but, again, haven’t tried. My brief foray into vmware fusion was trying to load Oracle Enterprise linux (its a spinoff of RedHat, fwiw). It would boot, but didn’t want to install. It had worked under Parallels, and I’ve not had a big need to go back and try to make Vmware fusion work.

    Biggest annoyance with Parallels so far has been some of the handling of USB devices beyond kb, mouse, etc. Parallels didn’t seem to like my Plantronics headset, or my USB/Serial adapter. There may be some known issues, from what I’ve seen at the Parallels forums.

    I’ve gotten rid of all the windows machines in my house, using Parallels. The last remaining boxes – the one I used for Quicken, and the one I used for my ham radio logging program, both got pulled into a parallels instances using Parallels transporter. We now have just 1 linux box running Centos, one BSD’ish box running FreeNAS and 3 macs — Cyn’s iMac, my Book pro and my work Book pro.

  7. MythTV? Could work as a fully functional frontend. I recently picked up a Hauppauge MediaMVP to use as a frontend, but it doesn’t currently do everything i would like.

  8. Did you get AppleCare, sir? *looks at you sternly* It’s completely worth the investment… free repairs if something goes bad, among other things.

  9. Parallels rocks the socks.

    iPhone rocks the other socks.

    I’ve been sorely tempted to hack my iPhone so I can get terminal access on it, but keep on wavering against it. It doesn’t help that I’m started to develop web apps for it, and am loathe to walk away from what I’m developing for the easier solution.

  10. Hah.

    I will honestly totally back this up. I have AppleCare on every Apple product in our house. Apple tends to be someone ummm…. protective of its hardware, so obtaining original parts for your own repair can be as costly as the AppleCare itself.

    We have AppleCare on every computer in this house. We’ve had to use it a few times. The first was of course, my HD failure in April. The power supply went on Dave’s G5 iMac a few months ago as well (his Dad own it now, but it’s transferable).

    If you didn’t get it, you can still go in and get it. I would strongly advise using tostita‘s student status to get it. The student discount for AppleCare is sometimes close to 50%. (though the MacMini is more like 15%, IIRC).

  11. Thank you for your offer of help. I’m not sure if I’m going to use any of the iLife features yet. What bits need redirecting if you don’t have a .Mac account?

    I’m getting xCode now. Wait forever for it to download, eh?

    It’s downloading now…

    444 of 923 MB (459 KB/sec) — 15 minutes remaining

    I love my new FiOS Internet connection.

  12. I thought about getting the new iMac, but I already have one mongo ViewSonic VP2130b LCD screen and Lenovo ThinkPad Z61p laptop on my desk, so this made more sense.

    Maybe for my next Mac I’ll do something along those lines.

    Are you doing your Ruby on Rails experimentation on your mac?

  13. Thanks, I’ll check out the vmware beta. I have used vmware to good effect off and on since around 2000, when Scott, Colin, Mike Long, and Karen helped me kick it around. I have it running Fedora and CentOS virtual machines from my Windows XP laptop currently.

  14. Oooh, ooh! Nice. This will be one of the first new apps I put on Obscure once I do an operating system upgrade that includes Python 2.3+.

  15. It’s downloading now…

    444 of 923 MB (459 KB/sec) — 15 minutes remaining

    Yeah yeah yeah. Always ahead of the curve. πŸ™‚ We don’t even get DSL out here, so FIOS is going to be a while. (We live in the relative boonies of Richmond… Though this area is starting to see some development, it’s still pretty much the end of “sprawl” I can walk to the cows from here)

    Seriously, I just remembered that I brought down the whole developers toolkit, which was a few GBs.

    Anyhoo…

    Basically the whole “sharing” portion of iLife desperately wants you to have a .Mac account. My understanding is that iLife ’08 has kinda laxed out on this and will allow you to share over your own website. I’m sure, however, Apple will make it nice and difficult for mere mortals, but I doubt it will be an issue for you.

    Regardless, if you run into any weirdness or have questions please don’t hesitate to ask me. At the very least I’m still in touch with a lot of folks I used to work with at Apple, so if I can’t answer the question I’m sure they can.

  16. OOOH!

    Yes, this would do nicely!

    I’ve been wondering if I could get something that would allow me to remotely administer the server from my iPhone in the event that something utterly nasty happened while I was away from home.

    Heck, this might save me having to bring my laptop on vacation to ARD into the server.

  17. No, I did not get it. Were this my primary computer, I’d be far more likely to buy an extended warranty. Insurance policies are not investments. I am mulling my options.

  18. If this was a computer for personal use, I’d probably do that, but it is for PKR Internet‘s use, so that is probably not going to happen. Also: Patricia is not enrolled in classes right now so probably would not qualify for a student discount.

  19. Actually your student discount is valid for 1 year after you finish your last class.

    I understand the business thing. Do tell the Apple folks that you’re making a business purchase. It opens doors for them to offer discounts that they wouldn’t normally offer.

  20. What are your general observations on ZFS? Have you had much experience implementing and administering it? Have you gotten close to boiling even one ocean? (See the quote from Bonwick at the end of the press release)

  21. i’ve only played wirh it in toy environments – the ‘brick of usb drives’ shuffled and left to zfs to sort out, and building raidz groups out of block files on disk. We’re awaiting delivery of a sun thumper so we can screw around with It in earnest. So far tho, admin is dead easy. I’m dying to do some performance testing on real hardware.

  22. Just saying – I’ve had two catastrophic hard drive failures on this laptop, and have not had to pay a penny for repairs.

  23. Were I using this as an entertainment device, that would be a reasonable option.

    However:

    $ ./configure
    endian test failed
    If you think configure made a mistake, make sure you are using the latest
    version from SVN. If the latest version fails, report the problem to the
    mythtv-dev@mythtv.org mailing list or IRC #mythtv on irc.freenode.net
    Include the log file "config.err" produced by configure as this will help
    solving the problem.

    So, there’s some sort of uphill battle to get it to build under Mac OS X that I’ll leave as an excercise to the reader πŸ™‚ I don’t need this box to be a media receiver. The mythtv-HOWTO.txt file states:

    Initially, installation of MythTV seems like a huge task. There are
    lots of dependencies, and various distributions seem to do the same
    thing different ways. This document will attempt to give general
    installation instructions, as well as including distribution-specific
    instructions where necessary.

    (not that I shy away from building difficult packages from source, but when I don’t actually need them…)

  24. Yes, Parallels allows you to do many different OSes. From their datasheet:

    β€’ Microsoft Windows – 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista
    β€’ Linux Distributions – SUSE, Red Hat, Debian, Fedora Core, Mandriva, and more
    β€’ Other – FreeBSD, OS/2, eComStation, Solaris, MS-DOS, OPENSTEP, and OpenBSD 3.8

  25. I’ve had my MacBookPro for a year. I didn’t get the AppleCare, but may end up regretting it. We’ll see. My first MBP had fits and even Apple couldn’t repair after having it for a month (and replaced every internal part there was). They finally sent me another brand new MBP. After ten months the hard drive and SuperDrive both were having issues. Fortunately, they were both still under the one year warranty. That warranty expires in just a few days. I’ll start holding my breath after that.

    Even with all of that said, I love the machine. I use it with Parallels and it meets my needs.

  26. Yup – I upgraded the incomplete version of Ruby that comes with the OS and i’m using WEBrick for the server. Is this something you are going to do? If so I can point you to a great online guide for setting upon OSX.

    –k

  27. I would strongly urge you to get AppleCare. It has saved me thousands of dollars in repairs on my PowerBook and iBook. Paying for itself multiple times over with no hassle.

    –k

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