I’ve been using my Mac Mini as what I’d call my “primary computer” almost from the moment I received it. While I have a laptop that I can use around the house or travel with, I use the Mac because it is so quiet, it’s hooked up to a 22″ screen and because I enjoy the OS X experience. Over the months I’ve managed to find a few software titles that help me get things done.

  • iTerm – Nice terminal app that more closely resembles my favorite Windows SSH client, putty. Has tabs, etc
  • Firefox – Who doesn’t know what Firefox is?
  • Thunderbird – Mail just can’t compete with the speed of Thunderbird for IMAP accounts
  • Gamepedia – I play games and I like to track them. There are other software options available, even some more generic but I just like this one
  • Adium – Adium is a multi-protocol chat client using the same libraries as Pidgin
  • Vienna – Great RSS reader
  • Things – Simple way to track…things
  • Mythfrontend – MythTV is my DVR of choice and I need a way to access it on the Mac, this it!
  • Integrity – This is a simple link checker for OS X, similar to Xenu’s Link Sleuth. Xenu’s Link Sleuth is superior however.
  • MacTheRipper – Best DVD ripping tool I’ve found for the Mac
  • NeoOffice – This is currently the only way to run OpenOffice “natively” on the Mac. It’s slow but gets the job done
  • Remote Desktop Connection – Sometimes you need to access a Windows machine. I use this primarily to connect to my XP VMWare guest running on my Linux server for web site testing
  • Macfuse/SSHFS – Nearly identical to fuse and sshfs for Linux
  • Transmission and Azureus – One bittorrent client just isn’t enough
  • VLC – Great multi-platform video player. Perian is able to install many of the same codecs VLC will play but I have soft spot for VLC

One thing that a number of people overlook is that RAID is NOT a backup solution. That’s right, say it with me, “RAID is not a backup solution.” RAID is at most a data availability solution and nothing more. With that in mind it is always good to have a backup. This post will concentrate on creating a backup script and routine for my Linux server as well as my Mac. Since the Mac is UNIX based I can back it up in much the same way as I do my Linux server.

Please keep in mind that this method assumes a lot of things and should not be considered for a business environment where security is more important. My method involves creating a public/private ssh key without a passphrase and worse, the root password for my MySQL server is also coded into this script. Since this is all DIY, you can expand whatever you do to be a bit more secure.

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Continuing with today’s theme of software I like I wanted to post a bit about OpenVPN. OpenVPN is a cross platform (Windows, Linux, *BSD, Solaris and OSX) VPN available at http://openvpn.net/. Using OpenVPN you are able to connect a remote client or remote network to another network across the Internet with minimal firewall fuss. I use OpenVPN for various client to network and network to network style VPNs. I also use OpenVPN on my Linux server at home so my laptop can send and receive email from anywhere.

If you’re looking for a way to image the drive in your computer look no further than Snapshot. Snapshot is available at http://www.drivesnapshot.de/en/ and allows you to image your hard drive while the computer is running. Now I’ve used a number of backup solutions in my day and Snapshot ranks right up there as the best. Using Snapshot I have backed up and restored my laptop a number of times. Go ahead and click the link to read more about it. It costs about $49 USD.