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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Alternative Operating Systems > Headless Mac Mini Server using bootcamp

Headless Mac Mini Server using bootcamp
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May 21, 2006, 06:17 AM
 
I recently purchase a Intel mac mini with the purpose of using it as a portable testing server. My plan was to install XP on it and run various VM's using VMware as needed for different testing configurations. I think it would be pretty sweet to have a dual core machine with plenty of ram for hosting various test server configurations that could fit in the palm of your hand.

Access to the gui would be via Remote Desktop

The only problem I run into, is the machine will not boot into XP without a monitor attached. I believe it never even gets past the firmware loading. All my other XP box's work fine headless and the system will boot into OS X fine without bootcamp headless, so it makes me suspect something in bootcamp is causing this to not finish booting.

Can anone confirm this? Perhaps it's just a bug on my machine? I travel alot for work and it would be nice to have a small server that I can take on the road with me. Laptops are to clunky for this role in my opinion (not to mention I already carry two laptops, and get sick of taking them out every time I go through security at the airport)

I do not want to use parallels within OS X because I have a vmware farm in production use, and I want the images between my test box and the profuction systems to be interchangable.
15" Macbook Pro 1.83 2 GB RAM
Blackbook 13.3 Powerhouse 2 GB RAM
MacMini Dual Core 2 GB RAM (Sadly running Windows Most of the time)
Numerouse Workstations running windows and Linux. Sorry don't have the specs, I don't pay much attention to them anymore. :)
     
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May 21, 2006, 06:22 AM
 
Just an idea, and no idea if it would work or not, but you could try putting the DVI>VGA adaptor that came with your mini into the DVI port, and then try starting it up. I doubt it will work, but its worth a try, as having something inserted into the DVI port might do the trick
iMac Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 1.25GB RAM | 160HD, MacBook Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 13.3" | 60HD | 1.0GB RAM
     
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May 21, 2006, 08:42 AM
 
Windows does not play nice as a "headless" anything. Microsoft's idea is "what's the point of having a computer with no monitor?" and I can understand that. The big issue here is that the hardware in the Mini won't finish confirming the video system's operating without a monitor connected, while your other XP boxes' video cards don't seem to care. Video cards that let you get past XP boot up without a monitor are a relatively new innovation.

There are a few hardware tricks you can use to make the machine think it's got a monitor, such as connecting it to a KVM. These don't really get you past all the issues, but they can help.

Putting the DVI/VGA adapter on probably won't do anything-the signal from the monitor that says "I'm on and running" is what the card needs for the boot sequence to progress.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 24, 2006, 10:11 PM
 
While I do believe it is an issue with the video card, I don't think it's a windows issue. I've got plenty of boxes with intel integrated 950 that I can run headless, I don't think it's getting past bootcamp. Of course I have no way to confirm my suspician as the moment I hook a monitor up to see what's going on it works.)

I wonder if I could find the pinouts for the DVI and cross connect some pins on the dvi adpater that would fool the system into think their was a monitor. Knowing my luck, I'd probably blow out my video card.
15" Macbook Pro 1.83 2 GB RAM
Blackbook 13.3 Powerhouse 2 GB RAM
MacMini Dual Core 2 GB RAM (Sadly running Windows Most of the time)
Numerouse Workstations running windows and Linux. Sorry don't have the specs, I don't pay much attention to them anymore. :)
     
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May 24, 2006, 10:21 PM
 
All Boot Camp does is set up the dual boot capability-there's no "going through" it. It's got more to do with the specific way the video card is set up than anything else. Not all "integrated graphics systems," even those with the same chipset, are equal. Look at the iBook: you need a hack to be able to use the built-in dual monitor capability in the video system.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 24, 2006, 10:36 PM
 
Let me correct myself then, not boot camp, but the Firmware itself. Your example of the ibook is an perfect example of this as the spanning hack was in the firmware.

I have noticed some bugginess in the boot process since starting with bootcamp on a couple different macs, like if the system crash's or is shut down uncleanly in OS x it insists on trying to start in Windows the next time it's powered on, or the system hanging at the firmware screen if a bootable cd drive is in the drive while trying to boot. I haven't been able to reliably reproduce and document this yet for lack of time, but it definitely shows the BETA 'ness of bootcamp.

I guess I should send in a bug report to the boot camp team and see if they have anything to try.
15" Macbook Pro 1.83 2 GB RAM
Blackbook 13.3 Powerhouse 2 GB RAM
MacMini Dual Core 2 GB RAM (Sadly running Windows Most of the time)
Numerouse Workstations running windows and Linux. Sorry don't have the specs, I don't pay much attention to them anymore. :)
     
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May 24, 2006, 10:50 PM
 
Do send a bug report. They need all the feedback they can get to make this work great for everyone.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jun 1, 2006, 06:21 AM
 
I'm not sure where or when, but I have seen something that is related to OS X and getting a system to boot without an external monitor attached. Also included was a guide on how to make a dongle that could be plugged into the back that "simulated" an external monitor so that the system could continue booting.

I googled and ended up with this guide on creating a Monitor Dummy with fairly little effort:
http://tvtool.info/go.htm?http://tvt...sh/dummy_e.htm


Maybe an option if you're any good at soldering or have a friend who is?
     
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Aug 15, 2006, 01:04 PM
 
FYI,

This works! I followed the instructions that saint put up and created a dongle for the back of the dvi-vga adapter that ships with the mini. I am not sure if it matters or not but I got the 1/8v 75ohm resistors. They varied from 1/8v to 1v so I wasn't sure which to use. I am now able to use the mini without keyboard, mouse or monitor and control it from my game machine using VNC.

Thanks to everyone for the info in this thread.
     
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Aug 15, 2006, 01:07 PM
 
One thing I would add is that I am shrink wrapping the resistors and sauder points so only the end connectors are exposed. Since my soudering abilites are limited there are bubbles and these are all close to each other. I am not sure what would happen if they touched at a sauder point but I imagine it probably wouldnt be good.
     
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Oct 21, 2006, 02:51 PM
 
Does anyone sell these "dummy" connectors? I have a colocated Intel Mac mini, and I didn't realize that it had this "issue" until I did a remote reboot about a month ago. Now if I want to reboot the machine, I have to schedule it with the technical support staff, which is more than a hassle at times. I'd love to be able to send them one of these to alleviate the issue but I'd be less than confident making one myself, especially considering I have nothing to test it with
     
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Oct 21, 2006, 10:37 PM
 
sstacha, it's "solder." Bubbles in solder joints are Bad Things. They come from moving the joint before the solder cools enough to solidify, and they are both poor electrical connections and poor mechanical connections. However, using shrinkwrap or other insulating covering on this dummy you've built will protect everything more than enough.

Brent, this type of device is in such small demand (I know of two right now and you're one of 'em) that it's unlikely you would find commercially made dummy DVI connectors. Learn to solder and become one with your machine or find a buddy that already knows how to solder. It's not that big a deal to do any sort of dummy connector if you know a bit about what you're doing.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Nov 2, 2006, 06:20 AM
 
Hi!

We have the same issue over here with a small cluster of Intel-based Minis (dual 1.66 GHz, 2GB ram, ...). We're dual booting Mac OS X and Fedora Core 6 with the BootCamp/rEFIt method. Everything's fine except that legacy booting seems to require that a monitor is attached. The exact versions we're using are Mac OS X 10.4.7, BootCamp 1.1.1, rEFIt 0.8, Firmware MM11.0055.B03 and SMC 1.3f4.

We've come up with 2 solutions for this:
1. Using KVMs (those things that "demultiplex" a single keyboard/video/mouse terminal to several machines). That seems to work but it's a bit expensive (over here, in France, the best we can find is consumer-grade 4-ports KVMs for about 30€ and then you have to factor in the VGA cables to link the Minis to the KVMs).
2. Using the dummy terminator method as outlined above. For that, we have a simpler but hack-ish solution: simply take the DVI-VGA adapter that came with the Minis and plug the resistors directly into it. Of course, it's not pretty but since it's for server machines it doesn't really matter. And the big advantage is that the manoeuver is reversible since there's no soldering going on. For the record, we're using 71.5 ohms resistors and we plug them in the following pins: 1/6, 2/7, 3/8 (as explained in the link mentioned above).

Edit: after reading what the folks at Mythic Beasts have written on the subject, it would seem that it's enough to only connect pins 2 and 7 (i.e. the green component).

Regards,
Jeremy
( Last edited by pafjeje; Nov 2, 2006 at 07:54 AM. )
     
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Dec 15, 2006, 12:14 AM
 
I've discovered an inexpensive hack for this. Apple sells a DVI to Video Adapter ($19) and with it plugged in Windows will believe a monitor is attached.

The adapter is available at apple.com but I found it in stock at CompUSA.

Apple DVI to Video Adapter
     
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Dec 15, 2006, 11:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by diyer View Post
I've discovered an inexpensive hack for this. Apple sells a DVI to Video Adapter ($19) and with it plugged in Windows will believe a monitor is attached.

The adapter is available at apple.com but I found it in stock at CompUSA.

Apple DVI to Video Adapter
Good catch. A "dummy monitor" adapter (basically a connector with a jumper in it) has been suggested as well. The DVI-VGA adapter is a more elegant (and less likely to be a problem) solution.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 18, 2007, 12:27 AM
 
Hi,

I was having the exact same problem, trying to get Mac Mini running without KVM using Ubuntu.

I'll post an entry on how I got the whole thing going at Ants Geek Blog in the next day or two but for the monitor I just jumpered the 2nd and 7th pin with a 75 ohm resistor and it worked fine.

Cheers,
     
   
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