Apple Mac Home Server

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I was tooling around the Apple Store, looking at what might be the perfect setup of new gear for my personal day-to-day needs, and after thinking about stringing together a Mac mini, an AppleTV, a Time Capsule, at least one external drive, several USB dongles for A/V i/o (more i than o…) and wondering about feeding the mini & the AppleTV through a HDMI switcher (along with a cable box & PS3) and dumping it all to a 42" (or better) HDTv & surround sound speakers.



Well, the number of boxes and cables and such would get out of hand quickly, and it would be nothing near elegant on execution. Not to mention the multi-remote trauma…



And when you mix in the hardware for home automation, forget about it…



So I got to thinking about the Microsoft Home Server. Which just rubs me the wrong way. I mean come on, would you REALLY want M$ controlling your house?



And I figured, Apple could do this better, the box would look good in the media rack, and the (hopefully) forthcoming Newton-esque tablet would be a perfect remote control for the system AND a handy thinnish mobile client for the server…



Need more processing power than the tablets provide? You work on the server remotely with Back to my Mac… Need more processing power in the home server? Maybe it has a consumer friendly blade arrangement… More storage space, add another HDD…



I could see a central home server, everyone has a tablet and an account on the home server. Everyone is always backed up, everyone can always reach their files on the server while out and about, you can turn down the stereo and see who is at the front door while sitting on the crapper from your tablet. Etc, etc, etc…



Might be the future of general computing, centralized servers with lighter (resource-wise) clients on the go…



True power users will maintain individual workstations (stationary or mobile) and pro-sumers will have heavier & more expensive tablets. The 'Inserta-tablet iMac' might be a crutch to help the 'old school' naysayers move from dedicated sit-down machines to a more mobile way of computing.



Maybe people will actually start going out and doing things where the sun actually shines on them again…



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Comments

  • futurepastnowfuturepastnow Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    So I got to thinking about the Microsoft Home Server. Which just rubs me the wrong way. I mean come on, would you REALLY want M$ controlling your house?



    And I figured, Apple could do this better, the box would look good in the media rack, and the (hopefully) forthcoming Newton-esque tablet would be a perfect remote control for the system AND a handy thinnish mobile client for the server?



    Need more processing power than the tablets provide? You work on the server remotely with Back to my Mac? Need more processing power in the home server? Maybe it has a consumer friendly blade arrangement? More storage space, add another HDD?



    I could see a central home server, everyone has a tablet and an account on the home server. Everyone is always backed up, everyone can always reach their files on the server while out and about, you can turn down the stereo and see who is at the front door while sitting on the crapper from your tablet. Etc, etc, etc?



    Might be the future of general computing, centralized servers with lighter (resource-wise) clients on the go?



    True power users will maintain individual workstations (stationary or mobile) and pro-sumers will have heavier & more expensive tablets. The 'Inserta-tablet iMac' might be a crutch to help the 'old school' naysayers move from dedicated sit-down machines to a more mobile way of computing.



    Maybe people will actually start going out and doing things where the sun actually shines on them again



    It's just net-attached storage. There are a million different devices to choose from already.
  • cubitcubit Posts: 846member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    It's just net-attached storage. There are a million different devices to choose from already.





    I have enough trouble trying to figure out how to configure my Cable TV here in NYC with TimeWarner's stupid boxes and anti-logical policy on my RoadRunner cable service. All I really want to do is link 2 iMacs, a mini, and a MBP wirelessly with an HP all in one; I've got HP small laser bw printers for the two iMacs. \
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    It's just net-attached storage. There are a million different devices to choose from already.



    Storage, yes…



    All users having home accounts (with centralized backup, parental controls & admin), yes…



    Multiple users receiving media on demand from multiple sources feeding to multiple locations in house at the same time; yes…



    Mail server, yes…



    Web server, yes…



    Print server & logging, yes…



    iCal server, yes…



    iChat server, yes…



    Home automation control hub, yes…



    Telephone call center, yes…



    All accessible from the house and over the internet when out and about, yes…



    Other uses that I haven't even mentioned here, yes…



    So, no, you are wrong. It is MUCH more than just 'net-attached storage'…
  • futurepastnowfuturepastnow Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    Storage, yes?



    All users having home accounts (with centralized backup, parental controls & admin), yes?



    Multiple users receiving media on demand from multiple sources feeding to multiple locations in house at the same time; yes?



    Mail server, yes?



    Web server, yes?



    Print server & logging, yes?



    iCal server, yes?



    iChat server, yes?



    Home automation control hub, yes?



    Telephone call center, yes?



    All accessible from the house and over the internet when out and about, yes?



    Other uses that I haven't even mentioned here, yes?



    So, no, you are wrong. It is MUCH more than just 'net-attached storage'?



    I hope you don't hope an "Apple Home Server" would do all those things. That's a bit unrealistic.
  • kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Not really. I've been running a Mac G4 Cube with MacOS X 10.3 Server (and some added apps and custom tweaks) for the past few years that does most everything on that list... and I'm looking for a replacement. Right now, I'm waiting for the mini refresh to hit.
  • vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    All users having home accounts (with centralized backup, parental controls & admin), yes?



    Mini + NAS



    Quote:

    Multiple users receiving media on demand from multiple sources feeding to multiple locations in house at the same time; yes?



    Mini to multiple aTV and Airport express.



    Quote:

    Mail server, yes?

    Web server, yes?

    Print server & logging, yes?



    Mini



    Quote:

    iCal server, yes?

    iChat server, yes?



    OSX Server on the mini...kinda pricey though.



    Quote:

    Home automation control hub, yes?



    indigo on the mini. But yes, this requires a USB connection.



    Quote:

    Telephone call center, yes?



    All accessible from the house and over the internet when out and about, yes?



    Other uses that I haven't even mentioned here, yes?



    So, no, you are wrong. It is MUCH more than just 'net-attached storage'?



    Well, some of the remote access capabilities you want probably isn't available or well integrated today. But for the most part you can do what you want but it is pricey today.



    Today, for what you want I'd get a:



    aTV for HD movie rentals

    Mini for everything else.

    DVI to HDMI cable + TOSLlink to AV Receiver for the mini.

    Indigo software

    Belkin 802.11N Wireless USB Hub and prays it works with USB TV tuners and the X11 controller. Otherwise a wired hub hidden somewhere. The problem with multiple tuners is each one needs a connection to a video source anyway...it's hard to avoid the tangle of wires unless you stick with the iTunes store and downloads.



    That said, many folks have been hoping for a iMac Home Server, myself included.



    i don't think it's too likely so I'll just get the next mini.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    I hope you don't hope an "Apple Home Server" would do all those things. That's a bit unrealistic.



    Point out exactly which part is unrealistic. Everything I have mentioned is possible with current off the shelf hardware. I just think that Apple could do a better job at unifying the entire concept into an elegant & easy to use package for Joe Citizen.



    Most computers sit unused for a majority of the time. And when they are used, most have WAY more power than the average user needs. Rather than a collection of over-powered, under-used computers in the house, give the users an assortment of tablets (the bigger the tablet, the more 'horsepower' it has) that work in conjunction with a central server. This server would also 'run' the house while not being used for more mundane tasks like surfing porn & updating your MySpace account.



    Obviously, not everyone needs a centralized home server. For those folks, the tablet 'docking' into the 'iMac' may be the solution. The 'docking station' could function as a stand-alone mini server & media hub, with the tablet as the general usage machine that goes everywhere with the user. Back To My Mac would reach out and connect to the 'iMac' back at the dorm/apartment/moms basement/etc. providing files that were not placed on the tablet originally. Same concept as a home server, same functionality, smaller scale (and price!). But for a family living in their own house (especially a new build) integrating the functions of the house with a home server and structured wiring to carry audio/video/data to different rooms as desired. Then the cost of such a system becomes a matter of simple 'future-proofing'.



    I feel that the Future of general consumer computing is centralized servers and thin mobile clients pulling files from their home server over the internet as needed. The Past of computing is the archaic keyboard & mouse interface, multi-touch is here to stay. The Now of computing is me sitting in front of this ancient PowerMac having to explain all of this to you…







    kormac76 had a handle on all of this…!
  • kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    Back To My Mac would reach out and connect to the 'iMac' back at the dorm/apartment/moms basement/etc. providing files that were not placed on the tablet originally.



    *cough*iPhone*cough*
  • futurepastnowfuturepastnow Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    Point out exactly which part is unrealistic. Everything I have mentioned is possible with current off the shelf hardware. I just think that Apple could do a better job at unifying the entire concept into an elegant & easy to use package for Joe Citizen.



    Of course it's all possible. But a future of personal computing where we all use tablet thin clients is years away. Five years, maybe longer. And Apple isn't in the home automation or telephone server business, or that sort of personal web and email servers. That's why it isn't a realistic Apple product.
  • kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Of course it's all possible. But a future of personal computing where we all use tablet thin clients is years away. Five years, maybe longer. And Apple isn't in the home automation or telephone server business, or that sort of personal web and email servers. That's why it isn't a realistic Apple product.



    Sorry, but bullpucky. The pieces are all in place, it just depends on whether Apple decides to link them together. For instance, an iPhone w/ Back To My Mac would let you view most any file on your home machine via QuickLook, right now.



    A mini + .mac does most of that long list *now* - and the rest are simple app additions.



    Personally, I think we're about two years from a ubiquitous tablet thin client presence in the Mac world...



    iPhone/tablet (choose your size) + resolution independence + the death of Carbon this year (check the WWDC Sessions - not a single mention anywhere... one Lab, but it's on how to transition to 64-bit Cocoa) + resurrection of NeXT's remote display system via Cocoa and QT streaming = thin client. That's my guess for 10.6's 'big secret'... or at least one of them.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Of course it's all possible. But a future of personal computing where we all use tablet thin clients is years away. Five years, maybe longer. And Apple isn't in the home automation or telephone server business, or that sort of personal web and email servers. That's why it isn't a realistic Apple product.



    Back when Steve rolled back into the company, Apple wasn't in the digital music distribution business, now they set the standard… They weren't in the telephone business, now the iPhone is fast becoming the standard for smart phones…



    Personal web server? Been part of the Mac OS for quite some time…



    Without thinking about what could be, there will never be any innovation for the future…



    I feel a modular home server with a wide assortment of functionalities, integrated into a modern digital house has much to offer the general consumer market, and I feel Apple can execute this in the best possible manner.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post


    Sorry, but bullpucky. The pieces are all in place, it just depends on whether Apple decides to link them together. For instance, an iPhone w/ Back To My Mac would let you view most any file on your home machine via QuickLook, right now.



    A mini + .mac does most of that long list *now* - and the rest are simple app additions.



    Personally, I think we're about two years from a ubiquitous tablet thin client presence in the Mac world...



    iPhone/tablet (choose your size) + resolution independence + the death of Carbon this year (check the WWDC Sessions - not a single mention anywhere... one Lab, but it's on how to transition to 64-bit Cocoa) + resurrection of NeXT's remote display system via Cocoa and QT streaming = thin client. That's my guess for 10.6's 'big secret'... or at least one of them.



    That's what I am saying, thin client tablets for general usage, home (centralized servers for educational/business markets) server as the backend for remote processing power. Actual workstations for those who ACTUALLY need them…
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    Storage, yes?



    All users having home accounts (with centralized backup, parental controls & admin), yes?



    Multiple users receiving media on demand from multiple sources feeding to multiple locations in house at the same time; yes?



    Mail server, yes?



    Web server, yes?



    Print server & logging, yes?



    iCal server, yes?



    iChat server, yes?



    Home automation control hub, yes?



    Telephone call center, yes?



    All accessible from the house and over the internet when out and about, yes?



    Other uses that I haven't even mentioned here, yes?



    So, no, you are wrong. It is MUCH more than just 'net-attached storage'?



    How much would you expect to pay for all this?



    PS: WIndows Home Server is quite nice.
  • hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,884member, moderator
    Apple will eventually deliver a Home Server. MacRonin is right...dealing with downloadable media in an efficient matter is going to require superior management compared to what we have now.



    With CD/DVD/Blu-ray you have physical discs that are transported to different playback devices. If we are to take that same benefit and extend it to digital files we need some sort of way to manage these huge digital files. Central management is key.



    Apple already has most of the tools they'll need.



    Bonjour- for network discovery



    AutofS- for tracking filesystem changes



    Metadata- for tagging and searching via spotlight



    Parental Controls- self explanatory



    Time Machine/Capsule- for backup





    They'll put everything together soon enough. It's appearing like iTunes 8 will be a fairly substantial upgrade and I'd live to see it gain some server attributes and be able to manage a central db of media with seperate metadata on each client and seperate libraries.



    We're ready for the digital age.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    How much would you expect to pay for all this?



    PS: WIndows Home Server is quite nice.



    No more than the sum of the parts available to do the same thing now?



    No more than a similarly equipped Windows Home Server?



    Obviously more than most folks would think, but that would include the full home automation/structured wiring/multi-zone A/V scheme?



    Home automation/structured wiring/multi-zone A/V could easily be two or three times the cost of a small home server itself?



    Current hardware for an ad hoc home server/media center would be:



    Mac mini w/ Elgato dongle

    AppleTV

    Time Capsule

    External USB HDD

    HDTV flat-panel (42"+) w/four HDMI inputs (Mac mini, AppleTV, cable box, game console)

    5.1 surround sound system



    Adding AirPort Express units & speakers will get audio to multiple zones, but not video. Feeding media via AirPort to computers in multiple zones will achieve multi-zone A/V distribution, but then you are just transferring/streaming the media to another computer, not centralizing your computing on the server.



    I guess I am mainly looking towards the future, and seeing a unit that is a true multi-user computer, with thin clients that control the system as you move through it. That thin client may be a handheld tablet which is a mobile thin client, updating & syncing to the user account on the home server as needed; or the thin client may be a HDTV panel with stereo audio built-in and a wireless keyboard/mouse. The tablets could also be used to control the HDTV system located in any zone.



    Think of the smart house concept, done right by Apple?!



    New construction with structured wiring & various home automation equipment as an optional package would provide the infrastructure to do the concept true justice.



    Engineering all the required hardware into a sexy chassis is the easy part; creating the software that smoothly integrates all the functions and features of such a system into an easy to use experience for the end user is the hard part.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Apple will eventually deliver a Home Server. MacRonin is right...dealing with downloadable media in an efficient matter is going to require superior management compared to what we have now.



    With CD/DVD/Blu-ray you have physical discs that are transported to different playback devices. If we are to take that same benefit and extend it to digital files we need some sort of way to manage these huge digital files. Central management is key.



    Apple already has most of the tools they'll need.



    Bonjour- for network discovery



    AutofS- for tracking filesystem changes



    Metadata- for tagging and searching via spotlight



    Parental Controls- self explanatory



    Time Machine/Capsule- for backup





    They'll put everything together soon enough. It's appearing like iTunes 8 will be a fairly substantial upgrade and I'd live to see it gain some server attributes and be able to manage a central db of media with seperate metadata on each client and seperate libraries.



    We're ready for the digital age.



    hmurchison gets it?
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    I know that some folks around here get touchy (no pun intended) when one makes comparisons to Star Trek, but…



    Imagine that the home server is the same as the 'Central Core' on starships, and the thin clients are the ubiquitous touch screen tablets…



    HDTVs on the wall & iMac-esque units on the desk are just larger versions of the thin client, but main data storage and overall systems control resides in the 'Central Core'…
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    No more than the sum of the parts available to do the same thing now…



    No more than a similarly equipped Windows Home Server…



    Obviously more than most folks would think, but that would include the full home automation/structured wiring/multi-zone A/V scheme…



    Home automation/structured wiring/multi-zone A/V could easily be two or three times the cost of a small home server itself…



    Current hardware for an ad hoc home server/media center would be:



    Mac mini w/ Elgato dongle

    AppleTV

    Time Capsule

    External USB HDD

    HDTV flat-panel (42"+) w/four HDMI inputs (Mac mini, AppleTV, cable box, game console)

    5.1 surround sound system



    Adding AirPort Express units & speakers will get audio to multiple zones, but not video. Feeding media via AirPort to computers in multiple zones will achieve multi-zone A/V distribution, but then you are just transferring/streaming the media to another computer, not centralizing your computing on the server.



    I guess I am mainly looking towards the future, and seeing a unit that is a true multi-user computer, with thin clients that control the system as you move through it. That thin client may be a handheld tablet which is a mobile thin client, updating & syncing to the user account on the home server as needed; or the thin client may be a HDTV panel with stereo audio built-in and a wireless keyboard/mouse. The tablets could also be used to control the HDTV system located in any zone.



    Think of the smart house concept, done right by Apple…!



    New construction with structured wiring & various home automation equipment as an optional package would provide the infrastructure to do the concept true justice.



    Engineering all the required hardware into a sexy chassis is the easy part; creating the software that smoothly integrates all the functions and features of such a system into an easy to use experience for the end user is the hard part.



    I certainly don't get it. It seems like you are talking about several different product types that would be released over a large spread of technical evolution all at the same time.



    You say "No more than a similarly equipped Windows Home Server" but then go right into "that would include the full home automation/structured wiring/multi-zone A/V scheme" and then talk about a "smart house concept, done right by Apple." I am really not following.



    And i have no idea how a Mac Mini, Elgato TV Tuner, AppleTV, Time Capsule, 42" HDTV, and an external USB HDD have to do with this idea. A home server would have RAID and hot swappable drives making a USB HDD and Time Capsule not needed. Elgato is best served from a system with apt processing power, not a dedicated home server.



    I also don't understand how an HDTV and audio HW fit into this. Audio sHW should be handled at the end and have no baring on Apple and an HDTV by Apple would severely limit consumer options. Now, a unified standard for plugging a 3rd-party device into higher-end displays that allows MS, Linux, Apple or whomever to have their display of choice on the monitor would be nice. Such a device would have an 802.11n or 1000BASE-T for netowrking, a Flash drive for storing the home server's meta data, and something like FrontRow/BackRow for an interface and the plugin will use whatever remote you choose via the monitor to the device attached in the back. But I don't even know of any proposed standards that would begin to make that a reality.



    Don't get me wrong, I'd love for a unified system, and now that personal computers are being used as media hubs in so many ways it will happen, but not all at once and not any time soon as it seems to be presented here. I still want a simple home server from Apple that offers a free DNS name for accessing files and streaming media the way Windows Home Server can.
  • macroninmacronin Posts: 1,123member
    I mention the current hardware as a baseline of equipment required for a simple home server/dvr/media center type of setup…



    I mention the home automation aspect because that is the future of the true smart house. Integrating the media control with the home automation only makes sense from an end-user ease of use aspect. I am sure we can all agree that a software front end to control both your 'digital life' and the functions of a modern automated home would be better designed & implemented by Apple rather than Microsoft…



    I would envision all input sources (cable, internet-derived media, telephone, etc.) piped into the server; access from that point is the 'head' unit (this would be the main HDTV in the living room/den/etc.), thin clients are either feed via Gigabit Ethernet (for zoned HDTVs or 'iMacs') and via WiFi for the tablets…
  • guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    Personally, I would consider this, over a Mac HS or WHS box.



    It's similar looking to a WHS box, but it runs Linux, and costs like half the price (500 GB), and has a web-based UI, that allows Linux, Mac, and Windows users to access it - which is more important IMO, as with WHS, it's basically Windows only, and an Apple version would probably also be OSX only or crippled. And I don't see why Time Machine couldn't work with this somehow.



    http://www.amazon.com/HP-MV2120-500G.../dp/B0015313O8



    And the unit is sharp looking to boot.



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