Thursday, Dec 3, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Official macOS Hosting and Amazon EC2

Brian Stucki (tweet):

Apple has updated the macOS software license agreement for Big Sur. This doesn’t happen very often.

[…]

I have been working with Macs in data centers for sixteen years now. I’ve pushed through many of the “Mac mini/Xserve/Mac Pro is dead” comments and “why would you want macOS in a data center” insults. I’ve had Apple account reps very eager to introduce me to their large clients only to have Apple system engineers shoot down the whole idea as a “gray area.” Well, this new section of “Leasing for Permitted Developer Services” feels like a massive pat on the back and I’m so happy for all my friends at Apple who saw the need and have been pushing for this update.

macOS hosting is now approved and written out in plain terms in a very Apple way. Incredible!

Nicholas Terry:

Apple software and hardware must be leased “in its entirety to and individual or organization”

A lease period must be “for a minimum period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours”

[…]

Developers may now “install, use, and run additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments”

Frederic Lardino:

AWS today opened its re:Invent conference with a surprise announcement: the company is bringing the Mac mini to its cloud. These new EC2 Mac instances, as AWS calls them, are now generally available.

Apple:

For the first time, you can easily set up and deploy macOS workloads natively within AWS, and take advantage of its flexibility and scalability to add more compute capacity. EC2 Mac instances in the cloud make it easy to create more builds, run more tests, and further automate your development processes by seamlessly provisioning and accessing macOS compute environments with just a few clicks.

Amazon (Hacker News):

Powered by Mac mini hardware and the AWS Nitro System, you can use Amazon EC2 Mac instances to build, test, package, and sign Xcode applications for the Apple platform including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Safari. The instances feature an 8th generation, 6-core Intel Core i7 (Coffee Lake) processor running at 3.2 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.6 GHz. There’s 32 GiB of memory and access to other AWS services including Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), AWS Systems Manager, and so forth.

[…]

Mac instances run macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and 10.15 (Catalina) and can be accessed via command line (SSH) or remote desktop (VNC).

[…]

The instances are launched as EC2 Dedicated Hosts with a minimum tenancy of 24 hours. This is largely transparent to you, but it does mean that the instances cannot be used as part of an Auto Scaling Group.

EC2 Mac instances with the Apple M1 chip are already in the works, and planned for 2021.

Corey Quinn (Hacker News):

So $790 a month if you leave it running all the time.

I reiterate that @MacStadium is $139.

MacStadium has cheaper models, too. On the other hand, I could see it being useful to occasionally rent a day from Amazon if you need to do testing with an older version of macOS, especially since Apple Silicon Macs can’t run Intel versions of macOS in virtualization.

Previously:

Update (2021-01-01): Paul Haddad:

A couple low res pictures of the Mac mini AWS nodes. Awful lot of cables coming out of the back of those minis. I kind of expected one or two Thunderbolt connections, power and power switch, not all this.

4 Comments

Friedrich Markgraf

Let‘s hope this means Apple takes issues of running macOS as a server more serious in the future.

Will AWS offer version of macOS prior to big sur?

@Anonymous Yes, they are offering back to 10.14.

I could see it being useful to occasionally rent a day from Amazon if you need to do testing with an older version of macOS, especially since Apple Silicon Macs can’t run Intel versions of macOS in virtualization.

That’s just about the only use case I can see.

Even at $139/mo (yes, granted, there are cheaper options), if you use it as a build host (and why else would you rent a Mac mini?), you should probably consider whether just buying one upfront and running it locally is cheaper after about half a year.

At $24/day, it’s really only worth it for rare use cases. Say, right before each release.

Let‘s hope this means Apple takes issues of running macOS as a server more serious in the future.

They’re probably having a hard time reconciling it with their business model. At the same time, not being able to do things like continuous integration makes Apple look antiquated.

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