What Can You Do With Your Old Mac Mini

I have a new mac mini running Plex for my televisual pleasure. I recently adopted a rather old Mac Mini which I planned to use for a development box. Once I received it though, it became apparent that it was in fact, REALLY old. I think First Gen.

I couldn’t install anything “modern” on it. Funny how I take for granted the Intel chip in the newer one… so it then became a project for what I could actually use it for. First thing’s first – I had to update the OS. As it’s a PowerPC processor, there’s no way snow leopard would go on and I didn’t want to fork out for more memory (it only has 512mb) to run Leopard. So I bought Tiger OS. (10.4 I think). Once updated, it was time to install something… anything.

Sabnzbd – download slave

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Sabnzbd is the be-all-and-end-all of usenet downloader applications. I’ve used a whole host of packages to download usenet files before and always struggled with unpacking or fixing etc. This does everything for you. It will even connect to the nzbmatrix and newzbin API for quick bookmarking.

You either use the web interface to add an NZB or bookmark it (on Newzbin or NZBMatrix) for sabnzbd to pick up automatically. It goes away and does it’s thing – unpacking & repairing (if need be). You are left with the finished article. It also allows you to run shell scripts on completion – so you can move the file to your network drive for example. Or, in my case, move to the external drive and add music to iTunes. (I’ll post a script for that later).

Sabnzbd is available for Mac OSX, Windows and Linux from www.sabnzbd.org

iTunes – music slave

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I have a few Veho wireless speakers dotted around the house and it’s always frustrated me having to turn on a mac to play iTunes so I can have a listen. Queue the always on mac mini music slave! The Veho speakers have a USB transmitter which each of the speakers automatically connect to.

Using the iPhone or my iPad as a remote control allows me to connect any time to the “music slave”. Switching the speakers on and bang – always on music! If you’re not happy with the sound produced by these Veho speakers, check out my post on modifying them. I hacked it up to work with my Bose speakers. Works a treat!

Other options

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Although this isn’t running on my ancient mac mini, I do use Plex on my newer Intel Mac Mini. It’s an amazing bit of kit. If you have at least 1GB ram, you could run this on your “always on” mac mini to watch movies on your iPhone or iPad. Of course, you can always hook it up to your TV as we have done with the newer one.www.plexapp.com

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Using Mame OSX (http://mameosx.sourceforge.net) you can turn your old mac mini in to an arcade machine. Play all the old classics (Track & Field is still my favourite). Check out http://mamedev.org for more information and how to download some ROMs (games) to play on it.

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Put the mac mini in your car or campervan! Check out http://www.macvroom.com for more information and project ideas.

Any other ideas?

I’m keen to try other ideas so please post and let me know!

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