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

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
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.





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    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
  • Reply 4 of 70
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    Innovative Apple.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    tonghitonghi Posts: 5member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    ngmapplengmapple Posts: 117member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    quevarquevar Posts: 101member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    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?
  • Reply 13 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    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?
  • Reply 17 of 70
    quillzquillz Posts: 209member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 70
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    gustavgustav Posts: 820member
    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.
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