I've got a Mac, Now What?!

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Welcome to my first post, so I hope you will be patient with me.

I’m preparing to set up Home Assistant in a house I’m about to buy. After looking at a lot of hardware options including but not limited to laptops, Macs, PCs, Synology, Raspberry Pi and so on, I decided to buy a used Mac Pro for $200 and through a WD Blue 500 GB SSD in it for another $70. (Expensive but cheaper than a Synology)

Specs:
2008 Mac Pro, A1186
OS X El Capitan
WD Blue 500 GB SSD
A used 640GB HDD (for now)
Additional 2 hard drive spaces
2 - 2.8 GHz Quad Core Xeons
24 GB Ram
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU

Along with HA I plan on having it handle a camera NVR (such as Blue Iris?) and a media server such as Plex.

Since I now have most of the computer hardware (may be getting some more drives for storage and setting up a RAID) I have now come to the part of how to best set it up and that has left me with a number of questions:

Do I keep running OS X El Capitan and run everything on the local host or VMs or a combination thereof? (Side note: I work with VMs at work and am comfortable using them)
Do I use Virtual Box or get VMware or Parallels?
Do I wipe the hard drive and install Linux or Window (not so much thinking this one)?
Do I use Boot Camp with another OS and boot straight to it?
Do I use Docker with a VM or Boot Camp or at all?
What would this Proxmox thing do for me if anything?

I have found some good articles so far:

I’ve installed Hassio on an old mac mini. No VM:

Sophos, Mac mini, and Docker (oh my!):

But would like to hear some more input about my particular case too.

Thanks,

Rue

Many of the questions you asked are just down to personal preference.

Do I use Virtual Box or get VMware or Parallels?

Are you more comfortable with VirtualBox or VMWare?

Do I wipe the hard drive and install Linux or Window (not so much thinking this one)?

I wouldn’t dream of using Windows for hosting. Linux first and Mac second; but are you comfortable with Linux?

Do I use Docker with a VM or Boot Camp or at all?

You said you were comfortable with VMs but Dockerization makes for smaller footprint. If you’re willing to spend a little time getting used to Docker, then do that.

What would this Proxmox thing do for me if anything?

“Proxmox thing” is just a different hypervisor. Same field as VirtualBox or VMWare.

Just jump on whatever you feel most comfortable, as it’s natural to change your setup as per your needs and experiences!

Welcome! I think we’re coming from a similar position so I’ll share my experience.

I’m in the process Of setting up security spy which is a Mac based NVR with a home assistant integration. I bought a Mac mini for that and my original plan was a VM running Ubuntu server. I installed parallels and got it running. Everything was fine until I decided I wanted to switch from deconz with a conbee II to Zigbee2mqtt using a TI project board. I was struggling to pass through the usb device to the VM so switched to Docker and got that up and running. My point is that you’ve got options and you can probably make them all work.

I’m in the process of setting up an HDMI/USB based touch screen monitor to use as a dashboard.

As far as operating systems go… life is easier with a modern OS. That’s probably going to come down to the graphics card in the Mac Pro.

I recently rebuilt my Mac mini setup for a couple reasons: it was running very slowly with the latest versions of macOS, and I had too any layers with macOS, VMware Fusion, Linux, and finally Docker.

I decided to go with Ubuntu Server 20.04 as the base OS and it’s been great. I run a bunch of services in Docker containers on this system, including Home Assistant. I also switched to an SSD drive (external via USB 3, as the internal HDD drive is difficult to access), which has been great as well.

I would definitely recommend a similar setup in your case. Let me know what you think or if you run into any trouble.

I love MacOS, but you’ll have more trouble than it’s worth for this. Wipe the drive and install Linux, Debian or Ubuntu. Make your life easier. That’s what I did with the 2012 Mini I run HA on.

Terry

Thank you for all the good info!

I’m leaning towards the Ubuntu base route and learning/using Docker. It looks like there are already containers for HA, ZoneMinder and Plex. I’ll put out an update after I’ve played around for a bit.

Rue