A few perfectly good reasons really :
- I wanted to see if it was possible.
- Was the performance any good?
- You can’t beat the size and power consumption
- It dual boots as a Mac!
I started with a perfectly good Mac mini. It’s a recent nvidia graphics Core 2 Duo model, 4Gb RAM and the standard 120Gb drive.
Voila, a Mac mini.
It was running a standard OS 10.6 install with a small Windows 7 Boot Camp partition. First of all I ran the Boot Camp Assistant and reverted back to full Mac volume to start with a clean slate. Then I created the largest Windows partition I could, which ended up being about 60Gb since I had a normal Mac install with extra apps.
Boot Camp Assistant
I then tried my first install : the free Hyper-V Server. I wasn’t expecting this to work very well, as I assumed the pretty strict hardware requirements and lack of easy 3rd party driver capability would prevent it installing.
Nope. Worked a treat, as far as I could tell since it was an ugly text interface. But the ethernet worked and it downloaded updates from Microsoft.
OK. Straight Hyper-V was a bit dull, and I’d need another Windows box to manage it and install other OS’s. Away with it.
Rebooted off the Windows Server 2008 R2 install DVD, formatted the BOOTCAMP partition, clicked next, and off it went. Installed like a charm, logged in and all drivers magically worked except for some obscure Bluetooth driver. Since I’ve never been able to get Bluetooth working properly with a Windows box anyway, I wasn’t worried. And by default the Wireless Service ‘Feature’ isn’t installed.
The next bit took a little working out. The Boot Camp drivers using the OS 10.6 DVD wouldn’t install – “Your hardware doesn’t support 64-bit installer” or some such nonsense. I had to go into the installer directory and manually run the Bootcamp64 installer. Off it went, rebooted and hey presto, lots of real Apple supported hardware drivers installed on 2008 R2. A quick visit to the Apple Software Update to download the tiny 200Mb BootCamp Update and we’re up to date.
Next up was the obligatory Windows Update to get all the latest recommended patches and fixes.
OK, so we currently have a Windows Server 2008 R2 Mac mini server with no roles or features installed.
Since I only have one hardware box and I want to create a network of test servers, I’ll install the Hyper-V role next. (This isn’t a 1-2-3 of how to create a Windows server, but depending on your experience level I could certainly throw together some screen shots if demand is there).
One little tip about licensing which I wasn’t entirely familiar with (as Microsoft licensing agreements are historically quite complex), is that if you install a Windows Server 2008 R2 server as the host OS and install only the Hyper-V role you can install another copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 as a virtual machine on the same box. This is called 1+1 licensing. That’s nice of them, isn’t it?
Using the Server Manager plugin/module/MMC/snapin thingy, I then created a virtual machine giving it a single CPU, 512Mb RAM and a 20Gb non-expanding fixed VHD. I then captured the DVD drive, and started the VM up with the Windows Server 2008 R2 disc. I really need to shorten that OS name, so from now on it will be called W2K8R2 if that’s OK.
This install took a little while, probably should have given it a bit more RAM. But once it had completed, I had a working VM under W2K8R2 Hyper-V under Boot Camp on a Mac mini.
Next. Part 2 : what to do next?
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