Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server Desktop Macs
The new Macbook Unibody has about five ports. In my case, all of them are full all the time. Unless you buy a hub, why not use that defunct G5 for additional ports and devices? You may save some energy by not relying on a large number of external devices (keyboard, monitor, hard drives, etc.) or AC power. I was also tired of the issues with a USB powered Oxygen 8 keyboard from M-Audio. Using my G5, the VNC access is actually somewhat tolerable for light operations at reasonable resolutions. If you have your Mac configured with a SATA II card and an internal drive mounting system, you can have access to more drives at decent speeds.

These instructions cover setting up a FireWire 800 link, a MIDI Network Link, VNC access using Vine Server, which is much faster than ARD. Also, you can easily use your G5 as a bridge to connect to two-pin devices (most video-cameras). Latency is minimal and the data path is more than sufficient, if all other interfaces are disabled it is also somewhat secure. These instructions also go over the issues I have encountered, and specific Cocktail features that aid in VNC/file access.

What you need is a Mac running 10.4 or greater with a working monitor and video card. If the video card doesn't work, and you turned have remote access via ssh/telnet on, then you're in luck -- check out this hint Works great, then you can set up the Vine server and disable the Apple remote access server (be sure to use a different display number on the Vine server.)

Cocktail is required, and you can optionally use Vine Server and Chicken of the VNC. You can easily use any VNC server, including the built in one, as well as any VNC client. I've tried a few combinations, but I enjoy this one the best.

Restarting/Automatic Login

When you restart, if you have automatic login disabled you will need to login, and dismiss the 'no keyboard monitor attached' dialog. Even if you do have automatic login, you'll probably have to dismiss this dialog. Setting up the server to mount disks without user login (under Disks » Misc) is very helpful.

Video Issues

If you do not have an AGP video card installed, then many applications that rely on openGL or quartz extreme (FCP and Motion, for instance) won't run. QuickTime and VLC work, but video playback isn't full-speed (it's about half-rate.) I have also successfully used eyeTV with the dongle by ElGato to share recorded episodes and flip through channels (at a very high latency).

VNC Specific Issues - Cocktail Configuration

I noticed the biggest boost when turning off the Desktop in the Finder using Cocktail, and using a 1024x768 screen. While for many this takes getting used to, I run like this on all my computers now, and find it's easier to organize files without it. Remember that when you click on the Finder icon, it will either bring a window to the foreground or make a new one. Use Cocktail to disable all those interface tricks as well. Millions/thousands of colors doesn't seem to make a difference, and it usually doesn't work properly with many applications.

Firewire Device Behavior

Take care when plugging in FireWire devices. By default they will appear on the shared Mac (meaning not the G5.) To mount devices on the G5, first disconnect the FireWire cable from the client Mac, connect the device to the server, wait a brief moment, then reconnect the client and resume operations.

Step by step Run down
  1. Set up FireWire access
  2. Set up the VNC server, either Vine or the built-in one.
  3. Configure Vine to run independently (this will let you turn off automatic login, and allow you to login to your Mac.) Server » Preferences » Startup, then click the System Server button to configure. Instructions are on the screen. Note: when logging in, your connection will be interrupted. Reconnect after about 30 seconds.
  4. If desired, turn off all other network interfaces (including disabling Bluetooth), or you can use an internet connection (mine is off because my wireless is busted, as well as the Ethernet.) Also this makes things much more secure if you are leaving your devices open and discoverable.
  5. Turn on file-sharing. (If you log in with the admin account, you should have access to all mounted drives. SMB works, but I often have issues with this method.)
Audio/MIDI Remote Connections

I have also found that if you have an Oxygen 8 (or other USB-powered audio device), it may be beneficial for you to set up the audio MIDI network play-through with the Audio Midi Setup Application (in Applications -> Utilities). It's somewhat straightforward, but here's a brief overview.

To configure your G5 server (after install of the appropriate M-audio driver), run Audio Midi Setup and click the Enabled check box. The Live Routings top pull-down should be set to 'Keystation Port1,' and the bottom to 'Network Session 1.' On the MacBook or other computer, click on the Network object and connect to the server.

Open the application and configure the device manually; auto-detect probably won't work, so manually set up your device and have it use 'Network 1' as the MIDI device. Add any additional devices if necessary.
    •    
  • Currently 1.13 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (86 votes cast)
 
[8,289 views]  

Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server | 10 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: mesa on Jul 09, '09 08:28:36AM

I guess that maintain is going to need to change the name of their application.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: robg on Jul 09, '09 08:53:01AM

Hint corrected. Durn overly-aggressive censorship list.

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: j-beda on Jul 09, '09 09:52:19AM

Is using Firewire networking much of a speed boost compared to gig Ethernet?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: leamanc on Jul 09, '09 12:12:56PM

It is a step down. FireWire 800 = 800 megabits per second. Gigabit Ethernet = 1,000 (or 1,024?) megabits per second.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: sablefish on Jul 09, '09 02:03:44PM

from actual, real-world experience, IP-over-Firewire transfers are just as fast as a firewire tethered, external hard drive. i had great results networking computers for video editing: use one mac just for capture, and transfer the bins to the edit computer with IP-over-firewire.

Maybe my gigabit network sucks or something, but i find firewire to be significantly faster than gigE.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: redcap on Jul 09, '09 08:04:57PM

GigE may have a higher data rate, but you have much better latency than gigE ethernet, and you're not as limited by the quality of your cable.

Most firewire cables are pretty good, I've used a lot of damaged, broken, and poor quality Ethernet cables in my day.

You won't ever reach the speed of gigE Ethernet, let alone 800mbps, but I've found firewire to be snappier, and faster with VNC, without the headaches of auto-negotiation speed. Also, my Ethernet port broke many years ago.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: sys0p on Jul 09, '09 10:43:09AM

Unless you buy a hub, why not use that defunct G5 for additional ports and devices?

Maybe because the G5 eats much power and a hub is cheaper over the long run ?

Just a though ...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: redcap on Jul 09, '09 07:57:37PM

Thats why I keep it sleeping a lot. Where I live it gets kind of cold at night so sometimes I leave it running.

Works better than a space heater, and its still probably more efficient than running 4 external drives (assuming you have 4 external devices that need plugged-in power, and I do.)

Also you can use it as a qmaster node, or webserver .. etc. etc. etc.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: Dr. T on Jul 09, '09 11:15:34AM

It doesn't have to be a G5. A G3 is capable running OS X and doing most of those tasks, and a G3 uses less power than a G5.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a G5 as headless port/drive extender and MIDI server
Authored by: Ohmelas on Mar 14, '12 10:42:06AM

This is an awesome idea but it leaves me with two questions:

1. What if I was using an Older G5 as the Main computer and wanted to VNC into qty. 2 Windows 6 64-bit 8 Core Systems?

Note: Mac Office 200x (4?) and later had remote desk-top but it only worked on Intel Macs.

2. What kind of system changes would I have to make to the Win-7 PC's to allow automatic log-in by the Mac?

3, Would Expose in 10.4 on my G5 Mac allow me to switch easily between Windows Remote 1 and Windows Remote 2 while still using a seuquencer (Digital Performer) on Mac G5?

Use: I have a MIDI patch bay as well that I'll be using on the G5 to run virtual instruments on both PC's. I have 16 channels of MIDI running into both Wintel from the outputs of an 8x8 MIDI Patch Bay. I'm also aware that I can send this through my ethernet but if that saves me some overhead, I'll stick with the USB MIDI solution.



[ Reply to This | # ]