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Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to introduce multi-user Screen Sharing

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
In Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Screen Sharing morphs from a simple VNC remote screen viewer into a multiuser, Fast User Switching Remote Desktop solution similar to Microsoft's Terminal Services.

In Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, Apple added Fast Users Switching to enable the system to support multiple users to be logged into their own graphical environment concurrently. Prior to that, each user had to log out before another could login to the graphical console. Multiple users could login via SSH, but only with a command line environment.

In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple added Screen Sharing, a VNC client and server that enabled a user on one system to authenticate and view the screen of another system.

Since 2002, Apple had also separately sold Apple Remote Desktop, which allows for remote administration and management. In 2004, ARD switched to VNC, an open protocol that enabled the tool to remotely control not just Macs, but also Windows PCs and other Unix systems with a VNC server installed.

In Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the built-in Screen Sharing feature, updated from 1.1.1 to version 1.3, now allows remote users to log into a separate user account from the one that is currently logged in. That means that while one user is logged into a machine, a second user can login to the same machine remotely, seeing their own desktop and user environment.

Previously, any users who attempted screen sharing with another system could only see a mirror of what was currently on the screen, and would "fight" for mouse and keyboard control of the remote system with that locally logged in user. Now, any user with the credentials to perform screen sharing can log into a Lion system independently of another user who may already be logged in, and continue to work in a separate graphical session parallel to the logged in user.

After logging in behind a local user on a Lion machine, the remote session depicted both users as being logged in from the Fast User Switching menu. The Lion system only indicated the local user was logged in. However, when the local Lion user attempted to switch users and login as the other user from the Fast User Switching menu, the system experienced a kernel panic, indicating that the feature is still a work in progress and that the new feature likely involves significant changes to how the system handles user logins.



Mac Terminal Services

This new functionality means Mac OS X Lion is now capable of multiple, concurrent graphical shells for remote users, similar to the technology Citrix created for Microsoft's Windows NT 3.51 to allow multiple remote users and login sessions.

Microsoft subsequently forced Citrix to license its software (in exchange for permission to sell its own product on NT 4) for Microsoft to adapt and sell as "Terminal Server," which later became Remote Desktop Connection. Unlike the plain vanilla VNC, Microsoft's proprietary RDC hooks into the core OS, usually allowing for better performance, particularly over slow network connections.

Microsoft implemented Fast User Switching on Windows XP using Terminal Services. It appears Apple is implementing its own "terminal services" in Lion as an extension of Fast User Switching.

In Lion, Apple has improved its Screen Sharing client app with Observe (view only) and Control modes and a Screen Capture button that all appear to be borrowed from Apple Remote Desktop. There are also additional new preferences available, including a keyboard shortcut for moving between remote Control and Observe modes.

An IT manager noted to AppleInsider that Lion does not appear to be compatible with the existing build of Apple Remote Desktop, although it can be reached with the Screen Sharing VNC client built into Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
post #2 of 71
Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.
post #3 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

I have never had a problem using Screen Sharing. I do it daily.

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-- Mike Eggleston
-- Mac Fanatic since 1984.
-- Proud Member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals
-- Wii #: 8913 3004 4519 2027

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post #4 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

Are you talking about the "Screen Sharing" option in System Pref? If so it has been working for me for the longest time. I have a domain name and have port forwarding on my router and can access it anywhere with any VNC client. Just make sure your ISP is not blocking port 5900
post #5 of 71
Innovative Apple.
post #6 of 71
Great news! This would allow multiple Windows users to work with Mac only software without tying up a Mac exclusively. If you think about it, this could allow Windows users to "switch" to Mac OS X without buying a Mac.
post #7 of 71
How handy, means I will be able to provide a full computer desktop to multiple IPads without investing in an expensive virtualization solution. Wonder how software handles licensing, such as word etc across multiple users being logged in.
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post #8 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post

I have never had a problem using Screen Sharing. I do it daily.

From Windows? Mac? What clients do you use? I'm mostly using Windows to connect to my Mac. I've been using RealVNC and TightVNC on the Windows end. All on the same subnet, local home networking.
post #9 of 71
This is a return to the thin client model of inexpensive terminals running X Windows to log into a UNIX or Linux mainframe. This was all but abandon when the PC became popular, then a hybrid approach emerged as connection speeds increased, now with cloud computing we are getting closer to the thin client and mainframe model.
post #10 of 71
Does this mean that one computer would also be able to handle multiple local users? For many lab environments, even a low end modern computer has more power than is needed, so the idea is that one Mac mini could power two screens using two separate mice & keyboards with each one logged into a separate account, so they are essentially independent environments. This would reduce the cost of these labs by about 35% and reduce the maintenance by half. With dual and core chips standard and a little extra memory, I doubt web browsing and writing documents (and even a game on one of the screens) would not noticeably impact the performance on the other screen. If this is possible, I would be thrilled.
post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

I use ARD all the time on a local network where all machines are linked through an Airport Extreme either directly with ethernet or connected using WiFi and have never had an issue but I have never tried it outside of that set up. I have never tried Screen Sharing as I use ARD. All Macs BTW, not Windows. I use static IP addressing for all equipment on my subnet. The AE is bridged to a Verizon FiOS modem.
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post #12 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

How handy, means I will be able to provide a full computer desktop to multiple IPads without investing in an expensive virtualization solution. Wonder how software handles licensing, such as word etc across multiple users being logged in.

I missed any mention of support for iOS. What would an iPad do with a Mac OS X desktop if it were possible?
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post #13 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babs View Post

Oh, lets see, maybe I can work like Windows if I try really really hard. Hey, that was kinda easy. Why didn't I do that sooner? Oh, I was never supposed to be that friendly was I.....nevermind.

What on earth are you taking about?
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post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I missed any mention of support for iOS. What would an iPad do with a Mac OS X desktop if it were possible?

Anything you'd normally do sitting at the Mac itself, just...y'know, from your couch or whatever. There are several VNC clients available on the App Store, which means they could take advantage of this feature as well. I already use Jaadu on my iPhone to check in on my computer from time to time or co-ordinate tasks that require more than one machine on different floors of my house.
post #15 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

I have had massive problems with screen sharing on Snow Leopard. One of the point releases (10.6.3?) was supposed to fix it. Apple could never fix it on two of the Macs (of 14) in the office I support. Rebuilds fixed it.

SMB connections are jacked as well. Hopefully Lion will fix them both....but its not iOS so I dont have high hopes.
post #16 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

It works perfectly for me. I use it locally from Mac/iPad for a MacBook Pro I have as a media device connected to my TV. I use it remotely for my iMac to do all kinds of stuf, and have use Windows, Macs, iPads, and iPhones from around the US, Europe and Africa. It's worked well for me for years on different Macs and different versions of OS X.
post #17 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post

Anything you'd normally do sitting at the Mac itself, just...y'know, from your couch or whatever. There are several VNC clients available on the App Store, which means they could take advantage of this feature as well. I already use Jaadu on my iPhone to check in on my computer from time to time or co-ordinate tasks that require more than one machine on different floors of my house.

I am just curious how the OS X interface can be worked from an iPad given the OS X interface would have no ability to allow movement of a cursor intended for a mouse from iOS. Or am I missing something?
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post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

What on earth are you taking about?

I think he's implying a simultaneous screen sharing feature already exists on Windows, although I don't think it does. It might have been added with Win7, but I remember that Vista still only allowed one user at a time.
post #19 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

I think he's implying a simultaneous screen sharing feature already exists on Windows, although I don't think it does. It might have been added with Win7, but I remember that Vista still only allowed one user at a time.

Ok thanks. Even if it did and played Hallelujah at the same time it would still be crappy Windows.
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post #20 of 71
I think there is a potential for some fairly massive implications around this that no one is picking up on.

Think a single Mac Pro running in a small business back office and anywhere up to around 10 very cheap ARM/iOS based iMac's that do nothing but boot up a remote session on the Mac Pro.

It would also be easy to add Time Machine and cloud backup to Mobile Me account.

Very cheap, very reliable, very secure, very easily managed.

Microsoft seem to be aiming at the same market with the RemoteFX enhancements to Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Thin PC.

Google is kind of taking aim at the same market with Chrome OS, but not quite.
post #21 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I am just curious how the OS X interface can be worked from an iPad given the OS X interface would have no ability to allow movement of a cursor intended for a mouse from iOS. Or am I missing something?

There are VNC clients available for the iPad now. Try it and see.

Think about a trackpad, with tap-to-click. That works, so an iPad should work too. Sure, not ideal, but not that bad, either.
post #22 of 71
Is sound supported in Lion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Is Apple's VNC implementation reliable for other AI members? For some reason, I can only get it to work for a day or two and then it stops responding so that I have to either ssh or physically go to the computer and restart the service. I've not been able to get it work for several days for Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

The only time I've had trouble is when my internet connection goes down. Which is strange because all my Macs (only used it Mac-to-Mac) are on the same network, same side of the router, etc. So why do I need an internet connection to log into another Mac on my own network?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

How handy, means I will be able to provide a full computer desktop to multiple IPads without investing in an expensive virtualization solution. Wonder how software handles licensing, such as word etc across multiple users being logged in.

I've been thinking Apple's been heading that way for while now. An efficient, multi-user, remote graphical login would change the laptop vs desktop purchasing decision. You could get all the power of a Mac Pro with the portability of a MacBook Air.
post #23 of 71
It's about time! I've been wanting this for a while, and have grudgingly accepted that Windows Remote Desktop was far superior to what Apple had.

But now the playing field will be even here at last. And those who think Apple no longer cares about OS X and want it to turn it into iOS now have egg on their faces.

I wonder if this will FINALLY allow me to remote control a Mac without its local console being unlocked for any user to come along and mess with it. When I work from home I sometimes remote control my Mac at work, but ANYONE who happens to walk by my station can see everything I'm doing remotely, and even mess with the session if they wanted to. Being able to remote in while keeping the local console locked (like Windows) would finally resolve this.

Thank you Apple!
post #24 of 71
The UI doesn't seem to be complete. It's missing the faux brown leather toolbar.
post #25 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Ok thanks. Even if it did and played Hallelujah at the same time it would still be crappy Windows.

Well, I suppose. I personally have no qualms with Windows but I do like to use Mac OS X whenever possible.
post #26 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

There are VNC clients available for the iPad now. Try it and see.

Think about a trackpad, with tap-to-click. That works, so an iPad should work too. Sure, not ideal, but not that bad, either.

That's a good description. Jaadu, the one I currently use, also supports a two-fingered scrolling gesture, pinching/unpinching to scale the screen image (since there are usually many more pixels on the host's screen than on the client), dragging via double-tap-and-drag gesture, and has a little toolbar at the top for things like keyboard input or special keys not present on iOS' built-in keyboard. It'll never be quite as easy as using the Mac itself, directly, but that's to be expected when you're essentially using a translator between two different UI paradigms. It's not bad for the quick stuff, IMO.
post #27 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

There are VNC clients available for the iPad now. Try it and see.

Think about a trackpad, with tap-to-click. That works, so an iPad should work too. Sure, not ideal, but not that bad, either.

I would love to try but no iPad at moment. So the cursor moves with your finger as you drag your finger around the screen? Or does the cursor simply jump to where you touch instantly?
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post #28 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

I think he's implying a simultaneous screen sharing feature already exists on Windows, although I don't think it does. It might have been added with Win7, but I remember that Vista still only allowed one user at a time.

Existed in Windows 2000 with Terminal Services in Remote Admin mode. Citrix on top would allow more users in desktop and/or application server mode.

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"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
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post #29 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I missed any mention of support for iOS. What would an iPad do with a Mac OS X desktop if it were possible?

Hmm, that's why I wrote will instead of can. It seemed from the article that a VNC client could access the service with the right user login not just the mac screen sharing application.

If VNC is the case there are a variety of apps available with varying quality that could do it. If not then we would have to wait/pay/write an iOS client for mac screen sharing.

Said computer would want a gigabit wired connection to a separate wireless network so the iPads didn't drain all the wireless bandwidth and the computer could feed them all peacefully.

I'd use it to provide access to office/open office which is IMHO still a weakness on iOS beyond simple text editing (tables, complex formatting).
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post #30 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

It's about time! I've been wanting this for a while, and have grudgingly accepted that Windows Remote Desktop was far superior to what Apple had.

But now the playing field will be even here at last. And those who think Apple no longer cares about OS X and want it to turn it into iOS now have egg on their faces.

I wonder if this will FINALLY allow me to remote control a Mac without its local console being unlocked for any user to come along and mess with it. When I work from home I sometimes remote control my Mac at work, but ANYONE who happens to walk by my station can see everything I'm doing remotely, and even mess with the session if they wanted to. Being able to remote in while keeping the local console locked (like Windows) would finally resolve this.

Thank you Apple!

Yeah, I've been waiting for this too. I remote into my home MBP occasionally, but if my wife is at home using it, I either have to kick her off or wait till she is done. The main problem is the the remote connection is always and only into the console session. Once they have it like Citrix/TS it will be able to connect into any session. VNC is a good solution for remote admin, but it is worthless for a multiuser system. I wonder if they will be hooking VNC into background sessions as a separate process in each.

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
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...sometimes it's both
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post #31 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I am just curious how the OS X interface can be worked from an iPad given the OS X interface would have no ability to allow movement of a cursor intended for a mouse from iOS. Or am I missing something?

I expect it would be similar (but more polished) to what you can see using iOS apps for RDP, Citrix, VNC, etc. Touch resolves to clicks, UI is minimized, custom controls for UI widgets like menus, hotkeys, etc.

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
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"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

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post #32 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

Does this mean that one computer would also be able to handle multiple local users? For many lab environments, even a low end modern computer has more power than is needed, so the idea is that one Mac mini could power two screens using two separate mice & keyboards with each one logged into a separate account, so they are essentially independent environments.

combine this with thunderbolt and it gets very interesting.

But I do think they need to put more interface smarts in the terminal end to draw windows quicker etc.
post #33 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

It's about time! I've been wanting this for a while, and have grudgingly accepted that Windows Remote Desktop was far superior to what Apple had.

But now the playing field will be even here at last. And those who think Apple no longer cares about OS X and want it to turn it into iOS now have egg on their faces.

I wonder if this will FINALLY allow me to remote control a Mac without its local console being unlocked for any user to come along and mess with it. When I work from home I sometimes remote control my Mac at work, but ANYONE who happens to walk by my station can see everything I'm doing remotely, and even mess with the session if they wanted to. Being able to remote in while keeping the local console locked (like Windows) would finally resolve this.

Thank you Apple!

Windows Remote Desktop also supports playing sound from the remote PC and printing from the remote PC to your local printer. These features are also available when you use Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection for Mac to control a Windows PC.

If you buy the paid version of Apple Remote Desktop, you can use Curtain Mode to lock the screen of the remote Mac while you are controlling it.
post #34 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

I think he's implying a simultaneous screen sharing feature already exists on Windows, although I don't think it does. It might have been added with Win7, but I remember that Vista still only allowed one user at a time.

I realize that this is a Mac biased forum, but come on... Did you really not know about Windows Terminal Services? It was even mentioned in this article as having been around since the Windows NT days.
post #35 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

I realize that this is a Mac biased forum, but come on... Did you really not know about Windows Terminal Services? It was even mentioned at the beginning of this article.

I hardly consider myself biased towards either OS... I use Mac OS X and Windows every day and don't really consider one better than the other.

But that aside, no, I honestly was not aware of such service, simply because I rarely use any screen sharing feature as it is. Not to mention I thought such things were limited to Windows Server editions.
post #36 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

I think there is a potential for some fairly massive implications around this that no one is picking up on.

Think a single Mac Pro running in a small business back office and anywhere up to around 10 very cheap ARM/iOS based iMac's that do nothing but boot up a remote session on the Mac Pro.

It would also have been a compelling use for a rack full of Xserves.
post #37 of 71
This feature is part of Apple's Remote Desktop tool available since Tiger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

Being able to remote in while keeping the local console locked (like Windows) would finally resolve this.
post #38 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

I thought such things were limited to Windows Server editions.

By default you can't have concurrent user sessions in Windows Vista/Windows 7.

Since Windows and Windows Server 2008 R2 are the same code base (and one retails for about 10 times more than the other!) I'm going to assume it's something Microsoft intentionally switched off to prevent Windows 7 being used in a server environment.

You can switch it back on... if you're willing to use a 3rd party hack. I'm not sure where this stands with the Windows 7 EULA.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

It would also have been a compelling use for a rack full of Xserves.

True that. It's why I was thinking small business, not medium/large/enterprise.

To be fair, this kind of Apple product would probably be far more suited to small business than anything larger anyway.

It's possible that Apple could even be more suited to any business without their own I.T department than Microsoft is... if Apple put the work in.

The idea of a cheap, secure and reliable system that's easy to set up combined with maybe an Apple Store "Small Business Center" or at least priority access to the Genius Bar, would be pretty compelling for small businesses.
post #39 of 71
I recently noticed that using ssh to login to your account from the outside mounts your FileVault directory. It used to be that ssh bypassed this and you ended up logged in without access to your files.

Killing that ssh connection in one case left the FileVaulted home directory mounted as logging in regularly on the machine itself failed because there were FileVault problems. I only saw this once and haven't tried to reproduce. It required a restart to solve.
post #40 of 71
Yes, Xwindow has had the feature for ages, mostly on Unix/Linux systems, but also on openVMS, Macs, etc.
But there are actually 2 different behaviors.

1. The basic one is that every program can actually be started to display its windows remotely.
(I wonder whether this will be possible on the Mac -- Of course, using X11 we already can do this now).

2. The higher level one is where the whole login session uses a remote screen.

And there is more to it than just making the windows remote. For the remote session, also file storage ("floppies!" (This is 1 April after all), USB sticks, ...), printing, etc. should at least be an option to use at the client computer.

I do hope that the client on older systems will be able to use these new Lion features.

Good work, Apple. Finally!
(And it is not unlikely that Apple will show the others how to do it much better).
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