Remote Access to Macintosh PC's
September 14, 2006 10:10 AM   Subscribe

MacFilter - How do I remotely work with Macintosh PC's?

I do a bit of consulting on the side, always for PC networks. I either have VPN access, and MSTSC/VNC to the servers/desktops in question, or I use a service such as LogMeIn/GotoAssist when I don't have network access.

A small group has asked me to support their 5 machine Macintosh network. I have never supported Macintosh machines, but their needs are limited, and they just want someone who can install software upgrades, diagnose hardware problems, and do installations of new hardware.

I would like to be able to help these folks remotely, but I have no experience with this. I know Apple sells a remote desktop style application, but do all OSX machines have the 'client' installed? Any tips/websites that detail remotely working with Macintosh systems?

Any tips, or common Macintosh issues and how to resolve them would be awesome. The know that I have little experience with Macintoshes, but the current vendor they use, as well as the previous one claimed to be experts, and routinely have issues doing simple tasks.
posted by SirStan to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apple's Remote Desktop client is installed on all Macs since 10.3. It's basically VNC which can be accessed with a normal VNC client or, for more bells and whistles, Apple's own Remote Desktop software.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:15 AM on September 14, 2006

Also, go buy yourself a MacBook or similar. You'll want to learn about MacOS X and, even if you hate MacOS X, you can easily reconfigure it to run WinowsXP or Linux.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2006

Response by poster: I have a PowerMac G4 that is one of their old PC's. It is the exact config of their other 5 pc's which are now G5's.

Does the built in OSX VNC client support "Reverse" VNC sessions (ie, connect to a VNC server).. commonly known as 'Listen Mode' with newer releases of Tight/Real VNC?

Are there any VNC clients for OSX that do support the reverse session?
posted by SirStan at 10:21 AM on September 14, 2006

Also, all macs (if they're running OS X) are unix (a BSD variant originally), and so support the full complement of command line utilities, have a built-in ssh server (enable in system preferences), etc. I don't know offhand what kind of command line based administrative interfaces apple has provided but I would guess they have provided something.
posted by advil at 10:50 AM on September 14, 2006

Response by poster: SSHd is nice and all, but I am going to be doing mostly work that would require video. I could probably tunnel SSH and VNC over it.
posted by SirStan at 10:56 AM on September 14, 2006

Best answer: I have OSXVNC installed on client machines. When they have a support request, I have them start the app and then I connect with a RealVNC viewer (the viewer is free, but we use the RealVNC enterprise server piece for PC support).

When I first started supporting Macs, I bought The Macintosh Bible. That was great to begin with, but now when I'm in a pinch I stop by the MacOSX forums or the MacFixIt forums. Also, cocktail is a great system utility application that will probably come in useful.
posted by wearyaswater at 12:02 PM on September 14, 2006

iChat for OS X 10.5 (the next version) will support screen sharing. I don't know if it will use VNC like the afore-mentioned Remote Desktop (which rocks, BTW), but if you have a spare Mac lying around you should be fine when it's released.
posted by revgeorge at 1:27 PM on September 14, 2006

Depending on what you mean by video, VNC is going to be hell. Its not exactly careful about what info it sends over it (its not X or RDP, its just a framebuffer), so if you're not on a 100Mbit LAN, its slow as hell (and even if you are, it can still be quite an unpleasant experience).
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:56 PM on September 14, 2006

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