You’ve heard all about the standard issue HP MediaSmart Server, which is by all accounts a great little machine. You’ve been shown how to create a low cost, low power DIY $400 Windows Home Server. You’ve even seen a Windows Home Server build out of a chrome toaster.
So what’s next on the WHS horizon?
The big news expected to be announced today by Steve Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) (running June 9-13 in San Francisco) is not the 3G iPhone. Not a new OS, code named Snow Leopard. It’s Apple’s all new iHomeServer.1 This device is Apple’s first non OS X based Intel computer (it comes with Microsoft’s Windows Home Server) and is built around the compact yet powerful Mac Mini.
The iHomeServer is slated to be released: never.
Obviously, there is no such appliance coming from Apple. You can however build your own (seriously).
In this article, I’ll take you through how it’s done, step by step. Be aware that this will completely wipe out your OS X partition. That is to say that you will no longer have a cutesy little Mac OS. You will have an honest to goodness Windows Home Server installed on a single partition.
Note that you DON’T need to install Boot Camp. However, we will be using the Windows Drivers CD that comes with Boot Camp.
If you’re ok with that then let’s get started!
- Get yourself a Mac Mini. I used a brand new Intel 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo with Leopard, which means that it has the latest firmware and the Windows drivers on DVD. If you use an older version, you will need to download Boot Camp in order to update the firmware and create a drivers CD.
- Hook up a monitor, keyboard, mouse, power adapter and network cable. You won’t need the monitor, keyboard and mouse after installation so you can borrow these from another PC temporarily.
- Press the power button on the back of the Mac.
- Quickly insert the Windows Home Server installation DVD. I say “quickly” because you want it to boot from the DVD before Mac OS is allowed to boot up.
- When you hear the Mac startup sound, press and hold the letter “C” on the keyboard to boot from DVD.
- If you don’t get the DVD inserted or type “C” immediately after you hear the Mac startup sound, no worries. Just power down and try again.
- If all went according to plan, you should see standard the WHS installation screens.
- After a few clicks you will see the following dialog stating the partition that will be lost. You are now at the point of no return and are about to completely wipe out your OS X partition. Come on. Take a leap of faith and click “Next”!
- From this point on, it’s a pretty standard install, so I won’t guide you step-by-step. A full install will take about an hour (but will seem like 4 hours) and the computer will reboot
5, 6, 7 times or thereabouts (I lost count after a while).
- Eventually, you will see this screen. Click the arrow next to "Welcome".
- Now enter a password (this will be your Administrator password).
- Enter your preferences for the next few screens and you finally will see this message.
- BUT WAIT. Before we can log off, we must install the LAN driver.
- Eject the WHS DVD and insert the Leopard Installation DVD (which contains the Windows drivers). If you are using an older OS, use the CD that you created.
- You may get a message like this, just ignore it by clicking OK and then Finish.
- Navigate to X:\Boot Camp\Drivers\Marvell (on the DVD), double click MarvellXPInstaller.exe and follow the Installation instructions.
- You should now be able to open up Internet Explorer and access the Internet.
- IMPORTANT: At this point remove the Apple Installation DVD or the next time you reboot it will try you to reinstall OS X. Then you would have to start all over again.
- Let’s complete the customization by installing an Apple logo on our WHS Console.
- Click here to open up the image in a new window.
- Right click on the image and click Save Picture As…
- Navigate to C:\Program Files\Windows Home Server and create a new sub folder called OEM.
- Save the file as ServerImage.png.
- Double click the Windows Home Server Console icon, click Settings, then Resource and you should see this under Home Server:
- You can now log off and unplug the keyboard, mouse and video.
- While you are now done with the custom installation of your Mac Mini (and you should be very happy), there is still network setup to complete on your HOME computer. Simply power on the Mac Mini and proceed to Step 3:Install the WHS Connector Software of the Windows Home Server Getting Started Guide that came with the OEM install DVD.
You now have an Apple Mac Mini running Windows Home Server. I wonder what the folks out in Cupertino will think of that?
You’ll likely want to expand the storage via external Firewire or USB drives, but that’s pretty easy to do. In my next article, I’ll show you how to run Windows Home Server on an iPhone. Just kidding.
1 The iHomeServer does not really exist and is obviously a parody. You know, something like SNL would do and not get sued over. :)