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RemoteMac.io – Dedicated Mac mini (remotemac.io)
75 points by rootdevelop 73 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments

FYI, there are a few issues with the copy on the homepage:

- "Mac Mini's" should be "Mac Minis", or "Mac minis" if you want to follow the official capitalization.

- "We only offer genuine, dedicated Apple machines running MacOS" is missing a period.

- "MacOS" should be "macOS".

- "pre installed" should be "pre-installed" or "preinstalled".

- "all your developer needs" should probably be "all a developer's needs" or "all your development needs".

While it's true that a product's innovation should not extend to the grammar or spelling of its homepage copy, "all your developer needs" is correct. "developer" is an attributive noun: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-attributive-noun-1689012

Yeah, correct grammar affects credibility.

Thanks for the feedback, we corrected the grammar.

"Our i5 Mac Minis come with 240 GB and our i5 Mac Minis come with 500GB storage as standard."

The second i5 should be i7.

Thanks, it now says i7 :)

What I really need is a setup like this with some automated “restore to snapshot” functionality. We use a remote mac mini to do CI on our development environment for new team members. That would be the best.

I use GitLab CI runner and VirtualBox for ArchMac. Upon CI job submission, on the first run a linked clone of a base VM is started and a snapshot is made, then the job executes inside of it. On subsequent runs the runner starts from the VM snapshot. Concurrency is supported by doing multiple clones.

A blog post is pending bu here's the doc:

[0]: https://docs.gitlab.com/runner/install/osx.html

[1]: https://docs.gitlab.com/runner/executors/virtualbox.html

Hello, Community Advocate from GitLab here. Thank you for sharing this info with the community!

We'd love to follow up on your blog post once it's finished. Could you please reach out to us via community@gitlab.com when it's done? Thanks!

That’s a good idea, we’ll see if and how we can add such a feature on dedicated machines.

If I rent a dedicated machine I can certainly do what I described there[0] by hand but would you envision having some kind of turn-key support for GitLab CI runners, supporting both gitlab.com through some partnership and self-hosted instances? That would be brilliant, especially considering Xcode integration with GitLab.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18404893

[1]: https://about.gitlab.com/2018/06/06/one-click-clone-to-xcode...

CI/CD product manager from GitLab here. We're actually already looking at adding this - we're starting with some experimentation in our internal item at https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/gl-infra/infrastructure/issues.... Some folks here at GitLab already have this set up and working at a small scale, so it's certainly possible (with a couple caveats.)

Check out that issue for more info.

Haha seems like you ran into the exact same issues as I did! It works brilliantly with a concurrency of 2 on an early 2015 2-core i5 13" MBP with 16GB of RAM, and I'm even using the machine interactively while builds are processed. I'm using Sierra as a base but I've been building Mavericks, El Capitan and High Sierra ones too. VMs are 1 CPU / 4GB. I saw no gain in bumping up VMs to 2 CPUs.


If you have any advice or learnings for us, feel free to jump into that issue. :)

Not sure I can be more than a data point but hey, whatever. Done ;)

Wanted to share that we developed a GitLab CI Runner/executor for Anka Build and have made it public (It was done for one of our user). It basically enables you to run your iOS/macOS GitLab CI pipelines/jobs on Anka build macOS cloud. You can configure Anka Build macOS cloud on-prem(on macs) or on hosted macs. Happy to share more details.https://github.com/veertuinc/gitlab-runner

Cool. Ive done a bunch of research on how. Its just really prohibitive as a customer but super reasonable as a provider. Happy to share.

One of the longest running services I'm aware of - https://macminicolo.net/

edit: just noticed they merged with MacStadium

More expensive than any of the competition I am aware off including OP.

Apple users should feel right at home then!

What does Apple use for their servers? Do they just have a bunch of Mac Minis in racks? Or do they have Mac servers they're not willing to sell? Or do they not use Macs as servers?

Custom servers from SuperMicro with absolutely NO custom Chinese military spyware chips.

They use a mixture of AWS, Azure, GCP and dedicated hardware but they all run RHEL.

For mac / ios software, some teams literally do use stacks of mac minis or old laptops in a closet.

For their cloud and services? Linux machines, mostly.

Apple has also used AWS, Azure, and GCP in addition to their own servers.

OS-wise though still likely linux.

It is RHEL for a fact.

When all devs need is your software (xcode), but you are so popular they they buy your hardware anyway instead of looking at alternative platforms.

Although I see the why, the how and the need, it is entirely synthetic. In a way Apple forces this incredible waste of hardware that is never seen and could easily be virtualized and time-shared (there are no technical limitations). It's really an opposite-of-green initiative. Although, perhaps the only real alternative would be everyone buying a mac mini and use it even less (in total), which would be even less green...

At its heart Apple is a hardware company and everything they do is to drive sales of hardware. An iOS developer is forced to have Apple hardware. They could charge for MacOS and they could charge for XCode. But they don’t because the cost of continued development of those applications is subsidized by hardware sales.

Not to mention that the "it just works" experience is much easier to provide when you control both software and hardware. No driver mess for the end user.

You can run macos in a vmware vm if you really need it for ios development[0]. It's less than legal though.


Pretty simple and good idea. For people not wanting to drop the money to get a Mac themselves to use Xcode for app development I could see them using this.

That’s if the latency isn’t too bad, else it would be hell

Are they using the built in VNC server for remote access? Even on my LAN the performance is absolutely terrible. Using a different server doesn’t help either. I’ve seen lots of folks make reference to getting GPU-accelerated VNC that dramatically improves performance if the Mini is hooked up to a monitor, but in my experience it doesn’t work. The only acceptable remote desktop solution I’ve ever found for the Mac is NoMachine.

VNC is terribly laggy and inefficient. It's OK for LAN (not WLAN) and localhost.

RDP and NX however work great (I used both SFO <-> AMS in 2005, latency is negligible), but NX is proprietary and X-only. It doesn't work on the macOS GUI server (whatever its name is, Quartz?). There's technologies based on NX when it was still FOSS. For RDP, there's xrdp which acts as glue between an X server yet utilises the RDP protocol (which should be tunnelled over a secure connection such as WireGuard or SSH).

Since we're swapping out X for Wayland I'm curious what the path of remote desktop is going to be.

As for this project, it isn't difficult to run macOS in a VM (or buy a 2nd hand Mac Mini) but if that's too difficult compared to the cost of setting it up this could very well be a viable alternative.

I think you're a little behind, we're in 2018 now ;-) and NoMachine now offers a server version for Mac and for Windows. (for access to the physical display for those who were wondering)

Which protocol(s) does that use?

Still NX. There's some information how it has changed over the years here:


We use the built-in VNC server our selves at 4K resolution. All Mac Mini’s have a headless GPU enabler, which allow for a smooth, windows rdp like, experience.

Sounds almost unbelievable. I can't VNC into my Mac on my LAN without considerable lag. How are you doing that with 4k?

We have a dummy hdmi plug connected to each Mac. That will make macOS think that there’s a screen connected which enables GPU hardware acceleration.

But that’s what I was saying originally —- I’ve heard about this trick of connecting a monitor to improve performance but I’ve never seen it make a difference. Is there something else you have to do?

I personally use Remotix for VNC, Remotix has integrated the Apple specific VNC protocol which allows for more performance, file transfers, etc.

Never heard of that client or Apple's proprietary VNC protocol (sounds like something they'd do). Thanks.

Ahh, I have been using Remmina. Thanks.

What bandwidth/latency are required for responsive interface?

Anything above 20mbit should be fine

Thank you!

Are you using the built-in macOS client? macOS screen sharing has some VNC extensions that make it usable on both wireless and WAN networks. I've been VNC'ing to my 2560x1080 work machine from home for years through a layer 2 UDP OpenVPN tunnel over WAN to great effect (connect to OpenVPN, cmd+K in Finder then vnc:// Using the now defunct Back to my Mac always was a crapshoot though (probably due to lack of port opening, therefore an intermediary has to be used)

Is there any Linux client that implements these extensions?

You need to use either the built in Mac client or something like Remotix if you’re using Windows. Every other vnc client I’ve tried performs terribly as you say.

It's in the Netherlands, so already off to a bad start for US users in terms of latency

much more useful for automated building and testing in a mac environment remotely. Would be much less useful if it were straightforward to run macOS under virtualization.

https://www.macstadium.com/ is another option. US based with data centers in Europe too.

At least the other one has somewhat sane prices. $70 per month for the OLD i5 Mini? It really doesn’t take long at all before buying outright makes more sense.

Do you have the same redundant infrastructure and network connection? Buying isn't always an alternative to data center

Does your client have redundant infrastructure and network connections? I hope nobody is trying to run public services on these things...

Here is a video about them


Is this supposed to be profitable longterm assuming a ROI of >40months?

€1249.-[0] divided by €29.95/mo plus other infrastructure

[0] https://www.apple.com/nl/shop/buy-mac/mac-mini

The €29.95/mo offer is for an older i5, the pricing for the 2018 version isn't announced yet: https://www.remotemac.io/pricing

1249 is for the expensive 2018 base model. The 29.95 price is for the cheaper old (not 2018) model. It will definitely be paid back much faster than that.

Does anyone have experience with MacInCloud [1]? The pricings looks alot more flexible with hourly or weekly rates.

[1] https://portal.macincloud.com/select/#/plans

Macincloud user here. I tried both their plans managed and dedicated and am more satisfied with the managed plan as it seems more performant at a lower cost (but maybe I was just lucky)

I am using it to compile a crossolatform inhouse Qt app for our employees with ios devices.

BTW: Whats the best way to create "private" IOS Apps for a very limited number of users. Recompiling the software every time just because we have to add an UDID for every new user to our development profile is an incredibly tedious amount of work.

There's support for enterprise distribution based on devices having a corporate provisioning profile installed: https://medium.com/wso2-iot/how-to-export-in-house-developed...

That was what I was afraid of. It's another $299/year down the drain just to support a few devices.

I was hoping for a way (or a hack) to at least retroactively add a UDID without going through the Archive process again (that is really slow). But I guess I have to force everyone that brings his own IOS device to take a company Android tablet instead :(

How do you test on actual devices (iPhone, iPad) when developing on a remote system? Obviously you cannot plug your device into the remote mac Mini's usb port.

There are several USB over IP solutions, we use Eltima’s USB Network Gate. Otter options include NoMachine.

Placing an order does not work, due to a Javascript error I think: `TypeError: handler.open is not a function`

Can you send us an email at support@remotemac.io, we’re not able to reproduce it here.

How bad is running macOS + XCode in virtual machine? Is it that bad?

I've tried it with Vmware while learning a bit of iOS development. It's not horrible but it is a bit laggy in some places, i had issues with sound dying at random intervals and some animations don't play correctly.

I tried with a React Native project, so I only used the VM for the builds; yes it's shit. I mean, the whole iOS build process is painful enough. And I never got the VM to work on more than 1024x768.

What hypervisor did you use?

Not OP but in VirtualBox you are limited to 7mb of VRAM in newer versions of macOS, and I haven't found any workarounds for this.

VMware Workstation apparently has better support for macOS so it may be the way to go, but you have to buy it

I’ve heard of VMware fusion, is that different from workstation?

Fusion is for Mac specifically (to run Windows, or Linux VM's), whereas virtualization of macOS on a Windows machine requires Workstation

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