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I often need a stable development environment that has enough CPU and RAM to handle demanding applications (like Confluent), for personal/hobbie use. I want to be able to access the environment from the internet, so I can interact with it from any computer even when I'm away from home. The RAM and CPU requirements pushes me to expensive AWS servers which would cost hundreds of dollars a year, but since I already have a spare, powerful MBP not doing anything, I want to turn this into my workload machine. I've successfully accessed it remotely using SSH. Now I need help keeping the MBP on.

How do I keep the machine running non-stop, with the least power wastage as possible? I know I can run it in clamshell mode, but since I'll be SSH'ing into the machine I don't want to connect an external monitor or keyboard/mouse to it. I don't mind having the lid open if required, but I don't want the screen on (to save power). Any tips on security, and managing heat would be great too.

Thanks!

Edit: more info I have a late 2013 MBP 15" retina 2.3Ghz i7 16GB RAM 512GB SSD Nvidia 750M I intend to leave it at home, plugged in, all the time. I intend to access it using SSH via a command line on another computer. Programs include running a single development node Kafka and some databases.

My other laptops are all windows. I would like a consistent UNIX style machine that I can access from anywhere for messing around during software development.

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  • I think it would be helpful readers of your post if you mentioned explicitly in your post that you are looking for a solution for a browser running on iOS / iPhone.
    – Alper
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 12:15

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To keep the display off as much as possible, set the display timeout to 1-minute. Using the pmset command line utility:

sudo pmset -a displaysleep 1

To prevent your computer from sleeping, you can completely disable sleep (the setting will persist rebooting).

sudo pmset -a disablesleep 1

This will also disable sleep in the Apple () menu in Finder:

screenshot showing the sleep option disabled in macOS

Note:

  • The -a flag applies the setting to all power sources (battery, charger, and UPS).
  • The system will not sleep even if the lid is closed or if you try forcing sleep.
user@MacBookPro:~$ sudo pmset sleepnow
Password:
Unable to sleep system: error 0xe00002e2
  • Last, but not least, this is makes it easier to accidentally put a running MacBook into a bag which may result in overheating and subsequent damage to system components (not applicable to a MacBook being used as a server and kept on a desk or in a closet).

To enable sleep again:

sudo pmset -a disablesleep 0

To reduce heating of the computer, I suggest:

  • Keeping the lid open at a small angle (say 30 degrees) to improve ventilation.
  • Tuning the fan curves using an application like Macs Fan Control to make it more aggressive than Apple defaults (Apple optimizes for low noise + low power consumption). This is especially applicable if you have a 13-inch MacBook - those models do not keep the fan on by default (it turns on and ramps up as the CPU temperature increases). Please note that keeping the fan always on and making it more aggressive does slightly increase power consumption.
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