Put that old Mac to work!

Put that old Mac to work!

If your one of the many Mac faithful who recently upgraded to a shiny new intel mac, you may be wondering what to do with your older PowerPC system. After pondering this very question for a while, I found that there were three answers. You could:

A) Put the old Mac in the closet or in the Garage to gather dust for the next century.

B) Let someone else use your precious, or

C) Put it to work as a small home network server!

There are three main services that the Mac makes quick and easy work of, iPhoto sharing, iTunes sharing, and file serving, all courtesy of the quick and easy zeroconf… I mean Bonjour.

Setting up iPhoto and iTunes to share their respective libraries on your home network is a snap. Simply choose the “Sharing” tab from the apps preferences window, and click on “Share my library on my local network” for iTunes, or “Share my Photos” for iPhoto.

Then fire up iTunes and iPhoto on your new mac and presto! Your old libraries are available on your new mac without using any hard drive space. I’ve been looking at those options in the preference panes for what seems like years now, and I’m impressed with how well it actually works.

For example, I downloaded a few TV shows and a movie onto the old Mac, and was able to stream them to my new one via iTunes with no problem whatsoever.

Sharing the old Mac’s hard drive space was equally as easy. Simply open up the Systems Preferences, click on the Sharing prefpane, and click the check box next to “Personal File Sharing”.

Then, from your new Mac, open up the Finder, click on the “Network” icon, and double-click on the icon that appears with your old Mac’s name. You’ll be asked for your old username and password combo, and then be asked for the volume that you wish to mount. Select one than looks good (or all of them, if you have more than one!), click OK, and Boom! (ala his Steveness) You’ve got easy access to all your old files, and a place to store new ones!

If you have the built in firewall enabled (and really, its a good idea), don’t forget to allow personal file sharing, iPhoto sharing, and iTunes sharing in the Firewall prefpane.

Extra Credit!

This is not the end of how you can put that old Mac to use, in fact, its only the beginning! The Sharing prefpane contains nine options, seven of which could be useful on a small home network. For even more usefulness, you can get deep inside the UNIX core of OS X and install MySQL for a database server, PHP for server side scripting, VNC for remote desktop connections, and a host of other tools to make sure that the old Mac stays active and healthy for many more years to come.

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