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paranode
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Info for opening one up for RAM upgrades etc.:

http://www.smashsworld.com/2005/01/taking-apart-mac-mini-how-to.php

(may be under Slashdot effect or moved at any time, dunno)
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technomage
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:28 pm    Post subject: Mini & MacOS X Reply with quote

Hi there!

As i have quite a bit experience with Mac OS X (in my side job i am a mac technician) as well as with gentoo (my favourite x86 OS), i have to admit that Mac OS X by far is the easiest to use and to administrate OS around.
A litte history:
Mac OS X has it's roots in NEXTSTEP, a unix flavour based on BSD and the Mach microkernel that was developed by a team around Steve Jobs in the time between 1985 and 1995 ( in that time he was not working for apple; in fact, he was thrown out 1985). Later in the 90's, when apple was desperately searching for a new OS (Mac OS 9 and it's predecessors were easier to use then any Windows, but it's capabilities, stability and security features were compareable to those of Win 98...;-), Jobs offered Apple his already far developed OS and, as it was accepted as the base of Apples future OS, became CEO of this nice little company again...
(you can read more on http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/osx/history.html)
The technical side of view:
Mac OS X is (as i said earlier) a full blown Unix based in it's roots on NEXTSTEP, which itself was developed as a fork of BSD 4.X and the Mach microkernel. Therefor it's fast, reliable, and you will find a lot of things you already now from (gentoo) linux on it. You will get your terminal, X, common servers like samba, apache, etc., all the Unix standard-software (though BSD-derived versions mostly) and almost everything else you want. As it is a Unix, you will of course have all usual network capabilities (firewall, routing, mailserver, etc.). Mac OS X will not come with a software-packet manager (apple has it's own way of installing software: drag'n drop...), but you can install and use one additionally, among those Fink, Darwinports and even (and thats REALLY cool) portage from gentoo!
On top of this Unix base frame there is Apples Aqua, a nice looking and very sophisticated user interface that is fast, easy to use, available in almost all different languages and (for you tech geeks ;-) is totally rendered in PDF, which leads to a very good text and image representation.
Between the interface and the unix layer there is not X (though you can use it in parallel) but Quarz Extreme, a proprietary graphics core from Apple. Quartz does not draw 2D graphics like X or Windows, but instead all windows on the screen are textures that are processed by the 3D part of the graphics-card via OpenGL. Therefor all 3D graphics-card features can be used to render transparency and shadows of desktop elements, 3D-Animations in multiple windows or to display video streams.
Though Quartz is not network-transparent like X (in most cases you can use VCN instead), i consider it to be the best graphic core as of today.
Besides, XOrg is going the same way in the future and even Windows will (with Longhorn...maybe...;-).
For the common computer user Mac OS X is easy to handle. Installation of the OS is as easy as it can be (whether on an internal harddisk, software/hardware raid, or an external harddisk). A backup can be done by simple taking an image of the whole harddisk (this image can be copied on another disk or even on another mac with different architecture in minutes and will run happily without problems...mostly) and most software is installed simply by dragging a icon in a dedicated applications folder. Also power management and fan-speed control is integrated perfectly.
Alltogether, Mac OS X is an awesome OS that everybody who is interested in technology as well as good design should take a look at. Not to mention those who don't want to know anything about all that but just want to hava an easy to use and stable system on which most standard software is easily available.
About the hardware:
The G4 (like used in the Mac mini) is an older 32bit architecture with an FSB that runs at only 167 Mhz. Therefor it can be considered to be quite a bit slower then a up to date computer system with a P4 or a Athlon XP/Sempron. Still, what does matter more than pure computing power (at least for those applications the mini is meant for) is a good balance of the installed components and a snappy user interface that reacts promptly on user input. You may not want to use the mini for 3D-Rendering, complex scientific calculations or hardcore gaming. But for software development, medium sized graphical editing and day to day use it surely is more than capable (besides all the other things that can be done with it with a litte imagination and skill...;-)
For all more demanding applications: take a look at the bigger (and more expensive) G5 machines. Those feature two 64Bit CPU's from IBM which (as far as i could find out) rate second behind (dual) AMD opteron regarding speed and features (besides the really well made casing and a sophisticated cooling system).
To sum it up, Apple computers are an interesting alternative to x86 machines. Though you maybe will not get the same amount of raw speed for your bucks, you will definitively get a beautiful, silent, nice to use and well designed machine.
Last but not least, as most of you people visiting this forum supposedly use Gentoo, don't forget that Gentoo is not dependent on a certain platform. And as Windows is not the only alternative for x86 PC's, a PC is not the only alternative for home computer. More people experimenting with Gentoo on other platforms will help the programmers and designers to push the cross-platform development forward!

With best regards,

Marcel
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nadir-san
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: meh Reply with quote

I dont like OSX , I dont like the directory/file structure, it's whay messy, I dont see why they cant just have like 6 or so main diretories off root and leave it like that. In fact the only thing thats really cool about OSX is that it has a funky GUI, and we have that now with xorg(although i guess it needs to be further developed/tested)
Im not totally gone either on the way that mac make their own hardware , I prefer to buy my hardware separate to my software.
I think i will buy a mac machine just because I consider Mac to make good hardware but not beause of their software skills.
It kinda gives them a position where they can dictate the market just like MS do, but even worse. O_o
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truekaiser
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 8:03 pm    Post subject: Re: meh Reply with quote

nadir-san wrote:
I dont like OSX , I dont like the directory/file structure, it's whay messy, I dont see why they cant just have like 6 or so main diretories off root and leave it like that. In fact the only thing thats really cool about OSX is that it has a funky GUI, and we have that now with xorg(although i guess it needs to be further developed/tested)
Im not totally gone either on the way that mac make their own hardware , I prefer to buy my hardware separate to my software.
I think i will buy a mac machine just because I consider Mac to make good hardware but not beause of their software skills.
It kinda gives them a position where they can dictate the market just like MS do, but even worse. O_o


as someone once said apple is what microsft wants to be with the x86 market.
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fender1212
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

one word "overheat"
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truekaiser
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fender1212 wrote:
one word "overheat"


i would say so if it was designed by job's himself. i remember the last computer he personaly designed over heated unless you bought a third party fan kit.
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Evangelion
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fender1212 wrote:
one word "overheat"


G4 runs pretty damn cool, so I don't think that is an issue.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have one of these now. It is a very nice box (I say this as a person who owns, currently, 6 X86 based machines at home and now 2 PPC ones).

It does not get hot. It is also almost completely silent (it has no fan), which is great for the application I intend to use it for, that is being an HTPC for me. I have an existing x86 Shuttle box I use for that, which while quiet for such boxes, is still perceptible. I can't even hear the MiniMac over my Tivo, and my Tivo is not loud.

Last night I installed, upgraded, and got Mplayer and a few other things working on it. I need to order an external USB audio device to output digital audio, but they are available for about $100.

It's about the size of an external CDROM in height, but shorter in length. Much smaller than my previous shuttle, and smaller than an ITX motherboard in footprint.

My machine is one of the 1.42Ghz ones with a Superdrive, and 512MB upgrade. It played DVDs, Xvids, .FLAC tunes and the like across my network without a hitch (after I installed FLAC and Xvid playback software of course).

I've installed Portage on it and am wrestling through trying to get Xorg as my windowing system instead of XFree (which you get from Apple prebuilt).

It's not going to replace my Athlon server; it's not going to replace my P4EE game machine. But for the application I'm using it for, it's a heck of a lot better than any of the PC alternatives in this price range. I am the furthest thing from a mac zealot, but I know the right tool for a job when I see it.

BTW, I posted this message using the machine. Brought it in to work today to fiddle with, and I'm posting this from Firefox. For web/mail etc it's certainly as fast as anybody would need, that's for sure.

-Twist
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evhwg
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:57 am    Post subject: Re: Mac mini Reply with quote

think i am going to buy one.

mijenix wrote:
Hi

Look at this: http://www.apple.com/macmini/

Thats looks very nice! Maybe I will buy it that I can play with MacOS or I use it with Gentoo Linux ;-)

What do you think?

--Mathias

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cheap mac is just an Apple marketing scheme to get a higher share. I am in love with the mac mini. I want to get 2 dozen in a Beowulf cluster. But, since it is used for spreading OS X, I doubt that I could refund OS X to install Gentoo for free.
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fender1212
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No fan at all you say? hmm....... yes i don't think there will be ANY issues with overheating.....ever
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twist wrote:
I have one of these now. It is a very nice box (I say this as a person who owns, currently, 6 X86 based machines at home and now 2 PPC ones).

It does not get hot. It is also almost completely silent (it has no fan)


AFAIK, the Mini does have a fan, but it only runs when needed.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was considering buying a mac mini for mainly multimedia purposes (MP3/video playback and browsing/editing).

After considering a lot, I came to the conclusion that it would make a better deal to build an x86 based system based on an Asus Espresso barebone and let run gentoo on it.

It costs about the same, it is about as small and quiet as the mac-mini, but it has the following advantages:

1) 6 channel audio with SPDIF output
2) 7-in 1 card reader
3) LED-display with touch control and OS-free audio and video playback
4) Remote control
5) TV-tuner
6) Easy toolless hardware-update

It does not have DVI output per se, but there is an AGP and PCI expansion slot, so that one can put in an inexpensive graphic card with DVI-OUT if needed.

I have already assembled another ASUS-shuttle system, it took me about half an hour and was very straightforward.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pranyi wrote:
it is about as small

No it isn't.
Quote:
and quiet as the mac-mini

Could be. Or possibly not. Depends on the Mini Mac's fan and the fans ASUS uses for processor and power supply cooling, and, last but not least, it depends on the processor you'll use with the ASUS box.
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pranyi
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asus states that the noise level of the box is below 20db for a typical pentium processor.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

20db at what distance? 10 meters?
and under what load? idle?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
fender1212:

No fan at all you say? hmm....... yes i don't think there will be ANY issues with overheating.....ever


Yes, obviously Apple never even thought to test the unit under load to see if it would overheat. Didn't even occur to them.

Stop spreading completely unsubstantiated FUD. I've had the machine running since I set it up, doing ebuilds (sometimes while showing video), and it hasn't shown a single indication of heat issues. When you have one or can find a clear case of normal operation overheating, then you can start your complaints. Until then, you are simply attacking a design based on completely unfounded speculation.

BTW, I have a fanless x86 machine. It doesn't overheat either.

Quote:

Evangelion:

AFAIK, the Mini does have a fan, but it only runs when needed.


Possible. I haven't heard it go off it does have one. I've seen pictures of the insides, but it was pretty much the motherboard, didn't show a fan present.

Quote:

pranyi

I was considering buying a mac mini for mainly multimedia purposes (MP3/video playback and browsing/editing).

After considering a lot, I came to the conclusion that it would make a better deal to build an x86 based system based on an Asus Espresso barebone and let run gentoo on it.


It's completely valid to decide you want one item over another, but doing a feature comparison without cost is really an apple vs. orange comparison.

The unit you indicate is $329 without CPU, memory, drives, or operating system.

It is not 20db, it is 29db (which is very audible). Read the stats yourself. Since db is a logarithmic scale, there's a huge difference between 20db and 29db.

Plus, it is nowhere close to as small. The Mini is smaller than an external single unit CDROM enclosure.

If you take the stance that "I really need a 7-in-1 card reader and an LED display", ok, this other unit is for you. For me, the only thing extra I need over what the Mini comes with for HTPC work is 7.1 audio out. Costs $130 for the USB piece to do that.

-Twist
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forgot to mention. That's 29db at idle for the Shuttle. That doesn't speak well to it's "silent operation".

-Twist
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If you take the stance that "I really need a 7-in-1 card reader and an LED display", ok, this other unit is for you. For me, the only thing extra I need over what the Mini comes with for HTPC work is 7.1 audio out. Costs $130 for the USB piece to do that.


that usb card just does software audio, usb is too slow of a bus for hardware audio so if the asus has hardware audio and the mac can only have software the asus wins hands down.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
that usb card just does software audio, usb is too slow of a bus for hardware audio so if the asus has hardware audio and the mac can only have software the asus wins hands down.


You have no idea what you are talking about.

USB 2.0 bandwidth = 480 Mbps. See here

Maximum bandwidth for audio (DTS, DD is smaller) = 1536kbps, or if you prefer, 1.536Mbps (see here or any google search will tell you the same thing). That's for ALL channels.

Even if you weren't using DTS, DD, or some other compressed system, 8 channel LPCM, which I guarantee your home stero can't handle unless you work in the audio industry or are fabulously rich, is 6.144Mbps for all 8 channels. That's completely uncompressed and much higher than standard data rates.

USB 2.0 could be 1/10th of it's theoretical efficiency and still not bat an eye at DTS or DD audio. Whether the processor that handles that encoding is present in a sound card or is a CPU in the main host is completely immaterial to the fidelity of the sound created.

-Twist
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twist wrote:
Quote:
that usb card just does software audio, usb is too slow of a bus for hardware audio so if the asus has hardware audio and the mac can only have software the asus wins hands down.


You have no idea what you are talking about.

USB 2.0 bandwidth = 480 Mbps. See here

Maximum bandwidth for audio (DTS, DD is smaller) = 1536kbps, or if you prefer, 1.536Mbps (see here or any google search will tell you the same thing). That's for ALL channels.

Even if you weren't using DTS, DD, or some other compressed system, 8 channel LPCM, which I guarantee your home stero can't handle unless you work in the audio industry or are fabulously rich, is 6.144Mbps for all 8 channels. That's completely uncompressed and much higher than standard data rates.

USB 2.0 could be 1/10th of it's theoretical efficiency and still not bat an eye at DTS or DD audio. Whether the processor that handles that encoding is present in a sound card or is a CPU in the main host is completely immaterial to the fidelity of the sound created.

-Twist


no sir you don't 480Mbps means bits a typical pci hardware soundcard will have the bandwith of 132~ MBps thats bytes. format is nothing if you do not have the bandwith to do it.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have a basic comprehension problem, or you are just being purposefully obtuse because you realize you are wrong.

All that matters is that the medium has the capacity to handle 1.536Mbps, which is orders of magnitude lower than the capability of USB 2.0.

Say it with me. "If I have bandwidth greater than 1.536Mbps, I can do full spectrum digital audio". Say it with me now.

Answer the question: is 480Mbps > 1.536Mbps? Ok then.

Say it with me. "If I have the bandwidth to handle 6.144Mbps, I can do full spectrum LPCM 8-channel audio". Say it with me now!

Answer the question: is 480Mbps > 6.144Mbps? Ok then.

It doesn't matter that PCIs bandwidth is "greater". It's not necessary for the problem in discussion. It doesnt matter that there may (or may not) be hardware on the sound card to handle digital signal transforms. The power of the CPU is more than capable to the task, and it can output the exact same digital signal that the sound card can.

All of the above are bits, as they are supposed to be. If you want to confuse things and talk bytes, divide by 8 (or multiply if you like, although that would be wrong). The answer will STILL be that USB 2.0 has far more bandwidth than required for the problem.

-Twist
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how long it takes until someone tries installing Gentoo (or some other PPC distro) on a Mac mini. Would be interesting to know if everything works etc.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I wonder how long it takes until someone tries installing Gentoo (or some other PPC distro) on a Mac mini. Would be interesting to know if everything works etc.


GCC has never been terribly efficient on G4 processors, so unfortunately, it takes a while. I have a dual-proc G4 as my other ppc machine, and it runs Gentoo. It's only 1Ghz per proc though, so not a straight comparison, it did take a long time (probably a full 24 hours) to get everything installed, Gnome, KDE etc.

The good news is that PPC portage is actually in great shape as of the last year or so. Sometimes even getting stable packages before x86, and support for Mac hardware in the Linux kernel is actually quite strong.

I'll install Gentoo on this Mini at some point, just not right this minute. Other things to do this weekend =)
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twist wrote:
Quote:
I wonder how long it takes until someone tries installing Gentoo (or some other PPC distro) on a Mac mini. Would be interesting to know if everything works etc.


GCC has never been terribly efficient on G4 processors, so unfortunately, it takes a while. I have a dual-proc G4 as my other ppc machine, and it runs Gentoo. It's only 1Ghz per proc though, so not a straight comparison, it did take a long time (probably a full 24 hours) to get everything installed, Gnome, KDE etc.

The good news is that PPC portage is actually in great shape as of the last year or so. Sometimes even getting stable packages before x86, and support for Mac hardware in the Linux kernel is actually quite strong.

I'll install Gentoo on this Mini at some point, just not right this minute. Other things to do this weekend =)


Thanks for the informative post. How does it run OS X btw? I've been thinking about getting one as a second computer, and OS X is pretty interesting too.
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