Old Mac server survives Digg and just keeps on ticking

In November we posted a list in our blog of old Apple Macs that are being used as web servers. Being an uptime monitoring service, we figured we would monitor their uptime and see how they were performing.

The post actually ended up on the front page of Digg, which threw an unexpected amount of traffic in the direction of these old machines, even if it was secondary traffic via our blog. Most of them (not surprisingly) temporarily faltered under the extra pressure from Digg visitors, but we were really impressed by Paul’s Macintosh IIci, which hasn’t had a second of downtime, not even while the post was on Digg. This is quite an achievement for a server based on hardware that’s almost 20 years old.

BSD + Apple = true love?

The old Macintosh IIci won’t run the BSD-based Mac OS X, but Paul has managed to install NetBSD on it. Ok, it’s not Mac OS X, but it’s BSD.

It seems it took him some effort to get it up and running, though. On his site Paul says:

It took a long time and was fairly complicated to install NetBSD, but finally I got it working, installed Apache, and hooked it up to the vast tubes of the interweb for your enjoyment.

So not only is Paul’s old Mac doing a great job as a web server, it runs an OS that is a close relative to the modern-day Mac OS X. Even though he has enhanced the basic hardware a bit, we here at Pingdom think that’s pretty impressive. You can kind of say that he’s given his Mac a modern twist.

Paul’s Apple Macintosh IIci specification

Paul's Apple Macintosh IIci
Introduced: September 20, 1989
CPU: Motorola 68030, 25MHz
Ram: Upgraded to 128 MB
Web server: Apache
Upgrades: Cache card and 1 GB SCSI hard drive

No downtime

As we mentioned, during the time we have monitored it (since November 28), Paul’s Mac server has had no downtime at all. This is better than many web hosting companies. Yes, that’s comparing Apples (pun intended) and oranges, but it’s nevertheless an interesting observation. Maybe all hosting companies should host on Mac servers? 😉


  1. lol =[

    Update 2/9/08

    Sorry about the downtime. NetBSD didn’t like the Digg effect this time and paniced. Thanks for looking.

  2. “Maybe all hosting companies should host on Mac servers?”
    Aren’t you saying here that maybe all hosting companies should host on Linux or Unix variant servers?
    That isn’t an Apple server. It’s a kit car. Pull the body off of a Volkswagen beetle and put a fake Porsche body on it and you still have a Volkswagen.

  3. I don’t know how you can call them Mac Servers since they are NOT running a Mac OS or any OS made by Apple. The minute you put BSD on them, they are BSD servers.

    In my view, BSD is a MUCH better OS for a server than any of Apple’s OS’s. The MAC OS X is great for the Desktop. But the Apple Server Software just plain stinks. That is why Apple is such a SMALL market share of the server market. Linux and BSD rule in the server market.

  4. So what, you want a cookie ?

    Servers aren’t supposed to crash, it doesn’t matter if they’re 32-core monsters or a tired old 486. If the system is properly configured and the hardware isn’t too sketchy, it should survive any load presented to it. It won’t rip through it as fast, but under no circumstances should a machine die simply because a large number of clients are waiting in line for its attention.

  5. Any UNIXy or WinNTy server running Apache/Nginx/thttpd/etc should be able to handle a major Digg/Slashdotting, as long as it’s serving up static or smartly cached pages.

    Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with depending on – say – PHP and MySQL to crank out dynamic pages in most situations. Getting Dugg/Slashdotted is an outlier for these sites, a lighting bolt not likely to strike again.

  6. Interesting! I didn’t even know that there was a first article about this. To be honest, I didn’t notice anyting go down on my Quadra 650. Maybe it was the internet connection to it considering that it’s my cable internet connection. But the machine has been chugging along just fine, backing up to a NetaTalk server.

    Part of the downtime could have been me dinking around with it also since November (it’s not only just a little server :-p), but I would love to see it go down just for kicks though. 🙂

  7. I have a friend who writes an auto collumn weekly for a newspaper with my “old Mac Centris 610 ” ( with a Power Pc upgrade card , a whopping (at the time 16 mb of Ram). The machine works and submits emails over a dial up modem fine. He refuses any upgrades being very happy with the setup and its reliability. So much for Microsoft Vista.

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