TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apple Remote Desktop 3

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Focus Review

Apple Remote Desktop 3

The latest and greatest in remote control for Macs in the lab or the enterprise

by Michael R. Harvey

Apple Remote Desktop has always been a great, and useful tool, even back to it's ANAT days. Back in the mid 90's, the Apple Network Administrator's Toolkit was mainly a window sharing, observation and control tool best suited for school lab environments. It grew into Apple Remote Desktop, adding features and usefulness to more and larger labs, as well as adding features that made it more attractive to business installations.

It's here!

Version 2.2 had a great feature set; sending Unix commands and getting the results back, installation of .pkg and .mpkg installers, and a myriad of other goodies, some of which even worked. With the release of version 3, Apple has stepped it up again. Improvements to the GUI, layout of the tools, better command and control, and reporting that even works!

New and improved

The interface of ARD 3 is, we think, a great improvement over 2.2. The one thing that might catch you is the smaller size of the text. If you're squinting now to read the screen, it's time to up the prescription. Figure 1 below shows the old ARD 2.2 interface, figure 2 shows the ARD 3 window.

One of the great things about the main window of Remote Desktop 3 is the amount of information available. At a glance, you get a better snapshot of the state of your client systems. Much better than what the 2.2 GUI showed you.

Another enhancement is the listing of scheduled, active, and past actions taken. In 2.2, actively running tasks and the history were displayed in a pane of the main window below the client list. When you clicked on the Saved Tasks icon, the main window was completely replaced with that listing. Now, those



Figure 1: ARD 2.2 main window

features are listed in the left column (the bottom pane of the main window is gone altogether now) in hierarchical lists. In 2.2, the history would clear every time the program was quit and



Figure 2: ARD 3 main window

relaunched, but now you can set, in the preferences, how many and/or for how long the history will preserve.

Yes, you can actually know what's there

With ARD 2.2, there was the potential for some great reporting tools. They didn't happen to actually work, however. Some admins were able to get reports back, some of the time. Most were not. You had to resort to shooting out various Unix commands and deciphering the results to glean useful inventory and other data from client machines. Now, however, reporting actually works reliably.

There are a myriad of reports you can query the client systems on, gather and hold that data in a SQL database. That database can live either on the administrator's workstation, or on a Task Server (see below). Also, because the database is standard SQL, you can run custom queries, scripts, and reports against it, exporting that data for use in other applications.

All the usual reports are there. Versions, system overviews, hardware, and software differences, among others. A new feature in ARD 3 is the ability to use Spotlight to query for specific files and folders, the information updating as changes occur on the client systems.

Task Master

New to version 3.0 is the Task Server. What this feature boils down to is the ability to off-load scheduled tasks (reporting, installations, etc.) to another copy of ARD running on a server. This lets you free up an administrator workstation, lets multiple admins run various task from a single location, and lets you consolidate your inventory and reporting data. By running



Figure 3: Setting up a memory report



Figure 4: Gathering the report data

all of that from a Task Server, you have everything residing in a single SQL database.

It's scriptable

The Remote Desktop application now has a fairly extensive AppleScript library attached to it. You can control and command ARD for most things using AppleScript, although it does lack in a few areas, such as reporting and application preferences. Apple includes a fairly long list of prebuilt Automator actions that make use of the AppleScript dictionary. MacTech columnist John Welch has good coverage of the AppleScript integration, as well as several example scripts up on his web site, <www.bynkii.com>. Look in the April archives. You can get a look at the Apple included Automator functions by opening the up the app's contents, then navigating through the Library, to the Automator directory (Figure 5). We're willing to bet that AppleScript and Automator support are going to be the new features, along with the Task Server, that will really make a difference for admins as time goes on.



Figure 5: The location of the included Automator actions in ARD

Complete copy

Added in Remote Desktop 3 are more options for copying files to client machines. Before, it was copy replace, and little more. Now, as you can see in Figure 6 below, there are several more options provided, most notable being the ability to encrypt the data as it is streamed over the network. This can be particularly useful for transmitting sensitive data over open networks. The encryption of copies, as well as commands, lets you send out password data without having to worry about it being sniffed out, compromising your systems.

Roll your own

While it would be nice for either all third party vendors to provide their installers in .pkg format, or for Apple to include support for the myriad other installers available out there, it just isn't so. That's not the end of it, however. Package Maker has been a part of Xcode from day one, and with version 3, it is now included in the install of ARD (for both 10.3 and 10.4). We won't go into detail on Package Maker here (that's a whole separate article's worth of information), but suffice it to say, it's an incredibly useful tool for getting files, and updates out to the clients. There are also instructions, beginning on page 108 of the user manual, for what to do to get third party installers run on clients.

docs

There is a very thorough and complete manual provided in PDF format with Remote Desktop 3. At 184 pages, it is heftier than you would think it needs to be, but provides plenty of information for both new ARD admins, as well as old hands. It



Figure 6: The copy set up window.



Figure 7: Package Maker

covers areas including setting up admin access privileges using Directory Services (pgs. 62-65), VNC control set up and options (Chapter 7), and PostgreSQL Schema Samples (Appendix D), among many others. Making sure to keep TCP and UDP ports 3238 and 5900 open (mentioned several times in the manual) helped us out during testing.

Best of the Rest

Of course, there are tons more features in version 3 than just those listed above. Scheduling, messaging, locking out computers, computer smart lists (like those you'd find in iTunes), observing (one or more systems) and controlling, to name a few. Some are familiar to users of earlier versions, some are new, but all of them are useful, and make the program ever more valuable.



Figure 8: Observation of multiple client computers with status icons displayed

In Closing

At $499 for one admin seat that will control an unlimited number of clients, ARD is a steal. For $1000, you can set up a Task Server, have an admin workstation, and be able to manage, control, assist, update, and inventory any number of computers. Reporting that works, and AppleScript integration alone are more than worth the price of admission. Task Server is icing on the cake. If you manage any number of Macs, Apple Remote Desktop is quite simply a tool you cannot do without. We can't recommend it enough.


Michael Harvey is the Reviews Editor for MacTech Magazine. He is also the Senior Systems Administrator at the Ventura County Star newspaper, where he routinely breaks stuff to ensure you get a good review of new products. Since the December gift guide issue, he has received not one email guiding him to cool dive sites, and is very disappointed.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Bid farewell to Penacony as Honkai: Star...
Penacony has been a story of twists, exciting new characters, and strong allies, and soon Honkai: Star Rail will be finishing it with a bang. Version 2.3, fittingly titled Farewell Penacony, will be launching June 19th and will feature updates to... | Read more »
HoYoverse roll out their plans for Anime...
For those who are looking to book a getaway in July, you might give some thought to Los Angeles between the 4th and 7th, which just so happens to coincide with the Anime Expo 2024. Amongst all the storied attendees is HoYoverse, who will be... | Read more »
The first rule of Brok the InvestiGator...
Mobile gamers were recently able to get their hands on BROK the InvestiGator, a point-and-click following the adventures of the titular reptile, a detective who can solve crimes through wit or brawn. If you were one that chose the latter then... | Read more »
Diablo Immortal celebrates second annive...
It has been two years since Diablo Immortal launched and despite some very valid criticism of its business model, it has done pretty well for itself. The Tempest class also gives it a lot of grace. To celebrate this anniversary, the March of the... | Read more »
Pokemon GO pulls on its jersey for a foo...
There have been a lot of jokes about this, some by me, but Pokemon Go has genuinely done a lot of good by getting people out and about.Pokemon GO Fest 2024: Madrid is fast approaching, and Niantic has set up a new area in a bit to get people to... | Read more »
Stumble Guys dials up the calamity 1000%...
Credit where it is due, Stumble Guys has had a few top-class crossovers in its’ life; Dungeons and Dragons, Rabbids and SpongeBob Squarepants to name but a few. It is such a shame, though, that all of these have now been well and truly trounced... | Read more »
You’re going to need a bigger boat as wa...
I am sure we all know that Finding Nemo quote of fish being friends and not food, however, Play Together is going in a completely opposite direction with their latest update. Introducing the Monstrous Fish, these behemoths are proving themselves... | Read more »
Supercell's hotly anticipated Squad...
If you've ever picked up a mobile, even without looking at an App storefront, you will have heard of Supercell, the massive company behind Clash of Clans, Brawl Stars, and Clash Royale. Now, the catalogue grows as Squad Busters prepares to take... | Read more »
Top Mobile Game Discounts
Every day, we pick out a curated list of the best mobile discounts on the App Store and post them here. This list won't be comprehensive, but it every game on it is recommended. Feel free to check out the coverage we did on them in the links below... | Read more »
Osseous has a bone to pick with you as t...
We recently quelled the immense threat brought about by Zemouregal and the giant dragon Vorkath in Runescape, and you might think that earnt adventurers a little break, but no. Instead, Jagex has decided it is time to face off against an equally... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Could A Smarter Siri Infused With AI (‘Apple...
FEATURE – The iPhone is already smart, but it’s about to become more intelligent. AI — short for artificial intelligence — is widely expected to be the main topic of discussion at this year’s WWDC (... Read more
Update: For WWDC, Amazon has lowered prices o...
Amazon has every configuration and color of Apple’s M3 MacBook Airs now on sale for $170-$210 off MSRP, starting at only $899 shipped, as Apple holds their annual WWDC conference this week. Their... Read more
Deal Alert! 2nd-generation Apple AirPods on s...
Amazon has 2nd generation Apple AirPods on sale right now for only $79.99 shipped. That’s $50 (38%) off Apple’s MSRP. Their price is the lowest currently available for a new set of AirPods from any... Read more
13-inch M3 MacBook Airs on sale for $150-$200...
Amazon has every configuration and color of Apple’s 13″ M3 MacBook Air on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP, now starting at only $899 shipped. Their prices are the lowest available for these Airs among... Read more
Apple is now selling 13-inch M3 MacBook Airs...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ M3 MacBook Airs now in stock for $170-$230 off MSRP, Certified Refurbished. Prices start at $929. These are the cheapest M3-powered MacBooks for sale at Apple and... Read more
Amazon is offering $150-$200 discounts on 15-...
Amazon is offering a $150-$200 discount on every configuration and color of Apple’s M3-powered 15″ MacBook Airs. Prices start at $1149 for models with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage: – 15″ M3... Read more
Apple is now selling 15-inch M3 MacBook Airs...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 15″ M3 MacBook Airs in stock today starting at only $1099 and ranging up to $260 off MSRP. These are the cheapest M3-powered 15″ MacBook Airs for sale today at Apple.... Read more
13-inch M3 MacBook Air prices drop to record...
B&H Photo is offering discounts on new 13-inch M3 MacBook Airs ranging up to $200 off MSRP ahead of Apple’s WWDC conference next week. Prices start at only $899! These are the lowest prices... Read more
Apple HomePods on rare sale for $20-$30 off M...
Best Buy is offering a $20-$30 discount on Apple HomePods this weekend on their online store. The HomePod mini is on sale for $79.99, $20 off MSRP, while Best Buy has the full-size HomePod on sale... Read more
Base 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro on sale for $1399...
Amazon and B&H Photo both have the base 14″ M3 MacBook Pro on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP, only $1399. Shipping is free at both retailers (free 1-2 day shipping at B&H): – 14″ M3 MacBook... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Systems Administrator - JAMF - Activ...
…**Public Trust/Other Required:** None **Job Family:** Systems Administration **Skills:** Apple Platforms,Computer Servers,Jamf Pro **Experience:** 3 + years of Read more
*Apple* Systems Administrator - JAMF - Activ...
…**Public Trust/Other Required:** None **Job Family:** Systems Administration **Skills:** Apple Platforms,Computer Servers,Jamf Pro **Experience:** 3 + years of Read more
Operations Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mall...
Operations Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Armed Security Officer - *Apple* Store - NA...
…provide services in which the client's health, safety, and security is our #1 priority. The Apple Store is located on the 2 nd floor of the 5 th Avenue Mall. Read more
Liquor Stock Clerk - S. *Apple* St. - Idaho...
Liquor Stock Clerk - S. Apple St. Boise Posting Begin Date: 2023/10/10 Posting End Date: 2024/10/14 Category: Retail Sub Category: Customer Service Work Type: Part Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.