Apr 27 2009
The Mac mini packs power in a very small case. It also saves you the cost of a display, keyboard and mouse – which is great if you don’t need them.
In this tutorial we’ll look at a high level at the components needed to run your Mac remotely, with nothing more than a network connection. Without a head, you Mac is far from a zombie. It is a very accessible server capable of taking care of itself.
What you’ll need:
- a Mac mini or any Mac with OS X 10.3+ and a network connection
- a commercial or free (VNC) remote access solution
You’ll need to get OS X installed and a network connection set up on your Mac before you deprive it of its head. I suggest setting it up on your network with a static IP (don’t forget to set those DNS servers) for simplicity in access it.
You’ll also need to install the remote access solution of your choice. For the pros and cons of the two most popular commercial solutions, check out this review of pcAnywhere and Timbuktu. If going the free route, grab OSXvnc server and the Chicken of the VNC client. For access to your server from the internet, you’ll need a static IP from your ISP or dyndns set up on your router along with port forwarding for your remote control application.
Now comes the automation. To make the most of your remote Mac, use Panther’s or Tiger’s Energy Saver preference pane to set start up and shut down times. Next, set up iCal to schedule events (either AppleScripts on 10.3 or Automator workflows on 10.4). What? For example, my headless Mac starts its day at 6:30. At 7 it starts an update of my podcasts and at 7:30 it ejects my iPod just in time for me to grab it on my way to work.
The possibilities are limitless. You are free to locate your mini in your entertainment center or by a phone outlet. Your headless Mac isn’t limited to automated functions either. It doubles as an iTunes shared music library and a network backup drive. Remote control software allows you to use it like a desktop – even from a PC.
Without a monitor you save space, energy and money. And don’t think that stashing your mini in the closet means you have to miss out on the Mac OS X experience. The headless Mac is nothing to be afraid of.