Recently, the computer I was using as my server started having some overheating problems. The good news is that the machine shut down before harming components, but with that machine running my domain controller I needed it running in order to get work done and to waste time surfing the Internet. The server was in a largish closet so I moved it to my office in the hopes that it would limp along. That kept it running, but the noise was atrocious! Its one thing to have a little white noise from a computer but it this was like sitting next to a jet engine with afterburners screaming.
My initial thought was to purchase another generic server box and stuff it into the closet. However, with summer coming up, I wasn’t so sure I could completely eliminate the heat dissipation problems in the closet. Installing a dedicated air conditioner inside my condo was definitely not going to happen. Gazing at my nearly silent main desktop machine, my lovely Mac Pro running Vista x64, I wondered if it would run Server 2003 R2 x64? Andreas Olsson reported in my post about getting Vista x64 running on the Mac Pro that he successfully installed, but without a wired connection, and ran it so I knew it would probably work. Scouring around the net, my wife managed to find a killer deal on an “open box” Mac Pro 2.66 Ghz machine with an NVidia card so I pounced. (She hated the noise even worse than I did!)
It was barely more complicated to install Server 2003 x64 on the Mac Pro than Vista x64. Here are the steps I took and links you’ll need in case you want to live the Server Vida Loca. I should note that I added the following additional hardware to the machine, 5GB RAM, and an additional two 500 MB hard disks.
- Install OS X 10.5.2 Leopard and initialized all drives in the system. Also, I set OS X to get it’s time from time.apple.com.
- Start the Boot Camp Assistant and partition the first drive into a 20 GB OS X partition with the rest as the Windows drive.
- Started the install with the Boot Camp Assistant with the Server x64 CD in the DVD drive.
- At boot, held down the Option key to select the Server CD as the boot device.
- The Server install saw all the drives in the machine. The BOOTCAMP partition is listed as the C: drive so started the installation to it.
- Server 2003 x64 installed just fine and recognized the NVidia graphics card. However, the Ethernet drivers are not part of the Server installation. Apple uses Intel PRO/1000 NICs in all the Mac Pros I’ve ever seen so it’s simply a matter of visiting http://www.intel.com/support/network/sb/cs-006120.htm for the drivers. The direct link to the Server 2003 x64 drivers is http://downloadcenter.intel.com/scripts-df-external/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=8719.
- Device Manager reported five or six unknown devices with the SM Bus Driver being the one I was most interested in fixing. Again, Apple uses Intel chipsets so off to http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/inf/ to grab the Server x64 chipset drivers. After installing them, I noticed that now I had five Intel 5000 Series Chipset PCI Express entries under System devices reporting that they didn’t have device drivers. A quick search turned up this knowledge base article from Apple saying they could be ignored. There were two Other Device items I didn’t worry about. The first is an Unknown ACPI device and the second was the sound driver. The machine ran great and all the tests I ran passed so I haven’t bothered tracking down the ACPI device.
- Booting back into OS X and in Boot Camp Assistant, I initialized the two extra disks as Windows disks. Since I had set OS X to set it’s time OS X picked up the right time.
- When I booted back to Server 2003, the correct time was picked up as I had joined the machine to my domain. If you’re not sure why I talked about times getting set, Apple and Microsoft use different time formats so booting between the two operating systems means the system time gets off.
- In Disk Manager I formatted the two additional disks and assigned drive letters to them.
- After a test reboot, the drive letters were lost which was weird. Once I reset them, I rebooted and they have survived numerous reboots.
Now I have a super quiet and cool running server that I can actually use in my office. In fact, my wife thought something was wrong when she first walked by because there was no more noise coming out of my office. That rates very high on the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor)!