Here at the Digital Union, we recently purchased a Mac Mini Server to replace the Dell Optiplex machine that lives in the podium in the Learning Collaboration Studio. The thought was that it would be really nice to have essentially the same computer in both the podium and the laptop cart.
Our other purpose for getting the Server version was to run our quarterly imaging from that machine. Imaging is a process where many computers are connected to a network and get a fresh install of an operating system, software, and all of the related updates. Other tweaks can be applied, like custom desktop background or turning off access to certain features.
My first process was to set up the Mini to act just like the dual-boot MacBook Pro laptops where users can select from running Mac OSX Snow Leopard or Windows 7 operating system. To my dismay, the Mac Mini (at least server version) does not ship with Boot Camp, which is Mac’s software (and drivers) to allow for a windows installation. Yet I forged ahead, and so far, I believe that my setup has proven to be successful.
I re-formatted the second hard drive in the mini to FAT32, then ran Winclone using the same Windows image that I deploy on the MacBook Pros. Unfortunately, Winclone is no longer being developed, but it still works for my Windows 7 image. I then had to locate a few specific drivers for the network card on the mini, but it is successfully running Windows.
To top it all off and to make it all pretty, I installed rEFIt, which allows the user to chose their operating system upon booting. Right now, we’re using the server function of the machine to push images onto the laptops. Soon, the new machine will live in the Podium and time will tell if it is an improvement over the current setup.