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Just a quick question, although I fear I know the answer.

I've just got myself a new Mac mini for my living room-TV. Being a newcomer to the "Mac experience", I just assumed a mature, Unix-based OS such as OS X would provide some way to remotely connect to the computer and "use" it (like Window's Remote Desktop, or Linux X11).

So far the only thing I've been able to do is to use VNC (a.k.a "Screen Sharing" in the Mac OS X menus) to "copy" the screen of the Mac to my laptop (WinXP) using TighVNC. But the experience is dissapointing:

  • A single user session
  • The session is "echoed" in the monitor that is connected to the Mac (in this case, the living room tv)
  • Slow, slow, slow (I'm using a 54 MBs wifi connection, so that shouldn't be the experience)
  • No "local" (ie, to the laptop from where I'm connecting) sound
  • "Clunky Feeling": no keyboard shortcuts, nothing similar to the "full screen" experience of a RDP session

Googling around I've found that there are some 3rd party products for this, but they seem aimed to the server market, or some "kludges" like having all users logged in to the machine, and have each one start their own VNC server (which in any case, gives the same "experience")

I'm beginning to see that there is no solution for this, but I'd like to have some confirmation from those more knowledgeable than myself.

Thanks a lot


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Assuming that you're using the built-in Screen Sharing (which is, as you say, just VNC[1]) - nope, that's what you get.

(any of the other solutions you're looking at, which talk about running your own VNC server, probably date from the days before Apple had Screen Sharing (aka their own VNC server) embedded into the OS by default)

[1]: well, not quite 'just VNC'; iirc Apple threw in some extensions to allow for things like encrypting keystrokes, and kerberos support; but they're implemented as extensions to VNC, in such a way that any VNC client will work, but the clients that understand the extensions will work better)

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Yes, I'm using Screen Sharing. As for the "solution" that involves having every user log-on and leave a "started" sessions, I got the idea from: Not sure about the "age" of the suggestion – JJarava Dec 29 '09 at 15:57
The page says "Now in Tiger (Mac OS 10.4)" - screen sharing made its debut in 10.5 - but it does seem that Vine Server offers more features than the built-in Screen Sharing. – James Polley Dec 29 '09 at 21:39
Screen Sharing as a seperate component of the OS (aka vnc://) was introduced in 10.5. But 10.4, and 10.3(?) would allow VNC connections when configured to allow ARD support was turned on. 10.5 is more advertising that you can connect via the built-in VNC/ARD client. – Benjamin Schollnick Dec 31 '09 at 3:32

In System Settings under "sharing" I have

  • screen sharing
  • remote login
  • remote management (apple remote desktop)

does none of that fit your needs?

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Sadly, no. Or rather, not as I'd like. Remote login is SSH, which I'm using and works fine, for Terminal Work. "Screen Sharing" is what I mentioned above when I was speaking about VNC. It works but is slow and clunky (see my comments in the question) As for "apple remote desktop", I've seen mentions to that apple-only app that might be interesting, BUT ARD has no client for Windows/Linux, so I'm out o luck – JJarava Dec 29 '09 at 15:55

You can logout, and login as a different user, but the GUI level of the Mac OS is for the currently logged in user.

The slow speed that you are seeing via VNC is that the VNC client is not auto-adjusting the color depth. Try changing your VNC settings to a lower color depth, and see how that works.

Apple's own Remote Desktop client works fine, and will autoadjust the color depth as necessary to speed up the data transfer.

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If a shell is good enough, just run sshd on the Mac Mini, and install Putty ( on the windows box.

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Already using SSH/Putty for terminal/CLI work; it works fine, but it's "only" shell access to a Unix box; for that I already have a couple of Linux boxes. – JJarava Dec 29 '09 at 15:56

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