What type of Mac "server" to choose

New Contributor II

Buddies :)

In our network we have 2 minis and the Jamf server on a virtual MS server.

The mini's are now 5 years old , so we start looking around.

These mini's have the double hdd option, and a external TM Hdd.

That option is no more I see now.

What kind a servers do you guys have running?

We have 300 iMacs, 75 MacBooks and 200 iPads.

One Mac server as netboot server and one Mac server as update and cache server.

we think 2 Mini's with an 1 TB SSD would do nicely, if we also putt an 4 TB external HDD on each server for TM.

any other ideas about this?


Contributor II


Do you have any existing virtual infrastructure you can use to avoid having to have physical Macs doing the job? macOS isn't a requirement to run much of this stuff these days, apart from Caching Server.


NetBoot - BSDPy: https://github.com/bruienne/bsdpy - guide for setting it up: https://grahamgilbert.com/blog/2015/04/22/getting-started-with-bsdpy-on-docker/

Software Update Server - Reposado and Margarita: https://github.com/wdas/reposado/ and https://github.com/jessepeterson/margarita - guide for setting those up (also works with Ubuntu 16.04): https://clburlison.com/reposado-guide/

According to https://support.apple.com/kb/PH25585 Time Machine can be pointed at an SMB share (I don't have any direct experience deploying/configuring TM in my environment but it can be configured via a configuration profile - there's a payload for it, worth testing). That share could be hosted on a Windows or Linux VM.

The only fly in the ointment is Caching Server.

In my environment (university with 460 Macs, some desktops, some portables) we leverage Ubuntu virtual servers hosting BSDPy for NetBoot and Reposado/Margarita for SUS. We don't do Caching Server and our JSS and Distribution Points are Windows virtual servers.

New Contributor

@neil.martin83 Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't reposado have a caching ability?

Contributor II

@leadtrombone Reposado only replicates the catalogs and optionally packages provided by Apple's Software Update servers and allows you to choose which updates are offered to clients (setting the client's CatalogURL preference in com.apple.SoftwareUpdate to point to it) https://support.apple.com/en-la/HT202030

I should also mention that Apple's traditional Software Update service is now deprecated - macOS 10.13+ is going to be interesting.

Caching Server isn't configurable (just an on/off switch) and it caches software updates, iCloud and App Store content that clients have downloaded so other clients on the same network can download it more quickly (no client config necessary either - they will magically download content from Caching Server if it's there, rather than go out to Apple over the internet). You can't control which updates Caching Server offers, it's just meant to save internet bandwidth.

Contributor III

Linux VMs and an Amazon AWS bucket here, we manage over 6000 Mac clients. If you have the expertise I'd choose Linux over Windows for servers, as they're much easier to deal with. We previously had our JSS on Windows, and it was always a bit tweaky to get things running right.