Mac Thread, Mac Mini as a classroom server ??? in Technical; Hi Folks
We are thinking of setting up a classroom network with 25 iMacs using the Mac Mini with Snow ...
11th August 2010, 10:59 AM #1
Mac Mini as a classroom server ???
We are thinking of setting up a classroom network with 25 iMacs using the Mac Mini with Snow leopard. We hope then to give pupils their own unique accounts so that they can save there work in their private areas, TBH my knowledge of Apple set-ups are pretty limited tho I am willing and have to be willing to learn how to set this all up, so I am just wondering has any other schools or organisations tried the Mac Mini as a classroom server? and what would be the other benefits ?
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11th August 2010, 11:10 AM #2
What do you have in the way of a network atm? Most people seem to have a mac server to handle the management of the systems (aka GP but for Mac) then just tie into their existing AD network for user accounts and storage.
13th August 2010, 08:57 AM #3
What are the classroom mac's being used for is the key question ?
13th August 2010, 03:47 PM #4
Mainly for Journalism students to type up newsletters produce podcasts, Music students to create short music files, Moving Image Arts pupils to produce short movie animation clips, the total amount of pupils going to be using the classroom will be no greater than 80 users, so I guess if they use the macs appropraitely there shouldnt be any bother although I am ready to be surprised. We hadnt any real major trouble last year when they were all stand alone, its this creating accounts for the students that I am really wanting to see if anyone else has tried it out in their institutions?
15th August 2010, 01:35 PM #5
Its probably going to struggle to work with live home folder for some of that work, you could work with local home folders to retain the performance of the Mac's and then a push pull model to the Mac Mini server... but then you may as well just integrate them into AD to save you having to create separate user accounts and use the Mac Mini for lock down and some storage..
You could script the dynamic creation of a folder (on the server) for each student that logs on and automatically mount this on there desktop with some work.. end users wont notice a drop in performance because they are still working local and you gain control over the mac's and presumably a standardised image.
16th August 2010, 01:28 PM #6
I would probably look into forced local homes for the machines and then tell the students that any work they want backup up to be stored on the Server share/home dir. This will probably make things a lot easier in the long run. You can still lock down the users and allow access to the AD side of things using the Mac mini server. You just won't need to worry about the server having to cope with the AFP/SMB access for the home dirs. Apparently AFP requires a lot of RAM. It is for this reason our main server has 8GB RAM. We are finding now though that it seems that the CPU is not coping with the load
Ours is an XServe xeon quad core 2.? with 8GB RAM. We could do with a new one i think.
^ What TomH said
Last edited by HodgeHi; 16th August 2010 at 01:30 PM.
23rd August 2010, 10:35 PM #7
Originally Posted by HodgeHi
What sort of bandwidth are you putting through your server to load up the CPU's so much ?
Especially with SL and the new servers i am finding AFP to be pretty efficient, i look after several sites with servers with 2 x 10GB aggregated links that are not hitting the CPU's limits but as you correctly say do chew through available RAM :-( Although finding storage to keep up with the network bandwidth is becoming more and more of a problem.
24th August 2010, 04:27 PM #8
We have around 35 iMac clients (running 10.5.8) with networked-based accounts all running garageband and occasionally iMovie. We also have a trolly of 15 macbooks that connect over an airport extreme also utilising network-based accounts but these mainly just browse the web. And then we have a few machines around the school connecting via AFP and using networked-based accounts. The rest tend to be SMB access.
Originally Posted by TomH
The Home dirs are stored on an XRAID connecting to the server via a 4GB Fibre connection. I think the XRAID is the Slowest part of the system with the drives only being ATA100. As for bandwidth, I'm not sure. Looking at the graphs theres usually around 40-50MB going through?
I will see if I can find a graph and upload it so you can see what I mean.
We have just recently upgraded the server 10.6.4 to sort out a major problem with our AFP service slowing to a crawl. It seems to have helped but not completely removed the problem.
We have upgraded the suite over this 6 weeks to see if this helps.
25th August 2010, 12:31 PM #9
25th August 2010, 01:30 PM #10
We have a Mac Mini as the 'GP' server for our 17 Macs, does a great job - I don't really tax it though. Our AD controls the logins. I would recommend setting the discs in Linux software RAID before doing anything though - as standard the discs come with no RAID configured which is a bit silly for a server.
27th August 2010, 06:59 PM #11
" . . . as standard the discs come with no RAID configured which is a bit silly for a server"
Originally the MacMini "Server" came with both drives configured as a RAID 1 (Mirror). You don't need to do anything Linux as the built in Disk Utility will configure a Software RAID 0 or 1 for you. Most people would say the 'target' market for the MacMini Server is probably small corporate environments and/or businesses. The original configuration did not suit most people interested in utilizing the MacMini as their Small Business Server. Apple changed the configuration to two single drives as a result of 'feeback' from interested parties. Most wanted to use TimeMachine to 'backup' the System/Data drive to another drive. Most did not realise you could connect an external drive and use that instead. Makes more sense anyway. Additionally OSX Server in certain configurations is 'by design' meant to be an easier introduction to servers than what was and is used for more Advanced Configurations/Setups. Apple's Marketing's tag line at the time was "No IT required." As far as I know it still is?
It's hard to imagine this Simpler Configuration/Setup being seriously considered when contemplating AD-OD Integration?
Another way of looking at this is to utilize the two drive configuration in a slightly different way. You could download CarbonCopyCloner and configure a scheduled 'staggered' backup of the boot drive. For example every 2 days or a week or a time frame that suits. This can be useful as there is no restore on the platform. For example if you run Software Update and the latest patch or security update causes problems for what was a working server prior to the update you can easily rollback to a previous working state.
I do agree with you though. It's silly to not configure at least a RAID Mirror for a Server. But I would not really describe the MacMini as a server. There's no redundancy for a start. You have to bastardize the power connector to work with a UPS and it's not the easiest thing to get into if there's a component failure. If you want a 'true' mac server you have to go with an XServe or a MacPro.
If budget is the prime consideration and if all it's being asked to do is push out MCX a MacMini is a good alternative. As long as you're aware of its 'limitations' it will do the job.
Antonio Rocco (ACSA)
Last edited by AntonioRocco; 27th August 2010 at 07:05 PM.
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