Re: Best strategies for remote reset of mac & internet
scotsman wrote:- Internet stops working and TWC modem needs powered down then up
- Time capsule stops working and needs to be powered down then up
- Mac mini needs restarting
The idea of using an Indigo schedule to ping an external host and power-cycle the cable modem and/or Time Capsule should work well, assuming the Mac mini is reliable (all of this is assuming there is main wall power available).
However, the root cause of all of the above reliability issues should be addressed.
A cable modem shouldn't need to be regularly restarted, though I know this is a rather common problem. In my own situation (with Comcast), I was finally able to convince them that my unreliable, frequent-restart-needing cable modem needed to be replaced by a newer model. The newer unit is much more reliable and has never needed to be restarted to re-establish cable internet service. This is only anecdotal though, there are still other possible causes of unreliable cable internet service beyond the modem itself, and replacing it may not actually fix anything.
The Time Capsule should also never (or very rarely) need rebooting. I'm currently using an older AirPort Extreme (802.11n, non-gigabit) with moderate internet usage from numerous in-house clients and have never had to restart it outside of firmware updates or configuration changes. Before the AirPort Extreme, I had a Linksys, then a D-Link, then a Netgear. Every one of them needed to be restarted regularly, but the AirPort Extreme has been the most reliable. However, I've never had a Time Capsule, perhaps that model is more unreliable than the AirPort Extremes. In any case, if it's a point of failure, you might consider a different router.
As with the Time Capsule, the Mac mini really shouldn't freeze up. If it is, there's something wrong with the software setup on it or the hardware. I've had 2 Mac minis act as servers in my house (not at the same time). The first Mac mini (1.6 GHz Core Duo) did have freezing issues where it would inexplicably hang or kernel panic. I eventually replaced it (after what seemed to be a motherboard failure) with a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini. The Core 2 Duo model has been running 24/7 since mid-2008, first as a media server, and now as both a media sever and Indigo server since mid-2010. It's hung so infrequently that I can't remember the last time it's done so. I should note, though, that I do access it frequently (with the Indigo Client and/or Remote Desktop) and usually reboot it about once a month in the course of Apple updates or other restart-required updates. If your Mac mini is hanging often, you might consider trying to locate the source of those hangs (misbehaving background app, misbehaving driver, etc). If it's kernel panicking, that's a more serious issue that could either be a very badly behaving driver or a hardware issue.
I realize, however, that sometimes it's easier and faster to simply address the symptoms rather than the source of the problem. To that end, as mentioned above, I think using an Indigo schedules to ping an outside source for testing network connectivity could be useful. You'd have to have a long enough time in between checks to allow for a modem/router reboot to complete before the computer power-cycled the setup again. A regularly scheduled reboot of the Mac mini (via Energy Saver schedule in System Preference) might also be helpful.
With regards to using a virtual machine to host a Mac OS X instance, having some experience working with VMs and VMware ESX stuff on a fairly large scale, I'm not convinced that it would bring a great deal of added reliability without a dedicated, power-redundant data center to host it. Virtualizing is good for distributing vast hardware resources across lots of small low-resource-requiring virtual servers, but without the robust power and network back-end, VMs are no more reliable than the hardware on which they reside. If you have 1 hardware ESX host with 1 VM running Mac OS X, you've done nothing to address the redundant power or network requirements (or even hardware reliability). Even with 2 ESX hosts for an HA (High Availability) cluster (to address the condition of 1 ESX host dying), if both ESX hosts are on the same breaker/street power source and on the same network block, if either power or network are lost, HA will make no difference. In most cases, the computer hardware will be more reliable than your power source or network connection. In short, a virtual machine solution for a home setup is overkill and a waste of time and money.