iPad with new Mac mini without VNC?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by cwindsor, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #1
    I am loath to start yet another thread on this topic but I have read 4 thousand of the roughly 683 million threads on this subject over the last few days and I feel like I know less than I did when I started. And my head hurts.

    I have an iPad that I want to use with a new Mac mini – just like millions of other people seemingly – as a monitor and to control things like PLEX. The mini is connected to a projector and has a wireless keyboard and trackpad.

    My question is this: Can this be done without using VNC? I only want to connect over my local network (airport extreme) and in fact want to prevent any access from the internet. I would like to avoid installing a third-party client on my mini if at all possible.

    Is there a way to connect the iPad through Screen Sharing or any other method?

    All ideas welcome.
     
  2. macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    Screen Sharing is Apple's form of VNC. Why not use VNC inside of your local network?
     
  3. macrumors 603

    gr8tfly

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    #3
    Screen Sharing is compatible with VNC. Enable VNC access in the Screen Sharing Preferences. (System Preferences > Sharing, select Screen Sharing from the list. The VNC option is found by clicking on Computer Settings.)

    I found a gem of a client app for the iPad called Remoter VNC. When setting up the connection in the app, use your Mac account username for the VNC user, and the VNC password you setup in the Mac Screen Sharing Computer Settings.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #4
    Thanks for the quick reply Intell. Is it possible to use VNC inside my network and completely block out any possibility of access from outside?

    And secondly - as Screen Sharing is Apple's form of VNC can it be configured to do the task? Forgive my ignorance.

    ----------

    Thanks very much for this gr8tfly! Does this mean I can use Remoter with the VNC option enabled in Screen Sharing without installing a third-party client on my mini?
     
  5. macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #5
    Yes, just make sure you don't forward port 5900 to the Mini.

    Yes.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #6
    That is very good news indeed. And just the answer I was looking for.
    Thank you Intell!
     
  7. macrumors regular

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    Jun 29, 2010
    #7
    Remoter and iTap VNC both actually work with the Screen Sharing option without having to turn on the VNC viewers option.
     
  8. macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #8
    Both of those need a third party app in that case.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #9
    japtor,
    I'm assuming you're referring to the "VNC viewers may control screen with password:" option. I've just discovered that it doesn't need to be selected to work with Remoter and I'm wondering: What are the pros and cons of selecting it from a security standpoint?
    Can you shed any light on that?
     
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #10
    At the risk of asking a stupid question: Are you referring to port forwarding in my Airport Extreme or is there a setting in either my mini or Remoter that I'm not aware of?
     
  11. macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #11
    The port forwarding in the Extreme.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #12
    Nope, just turn on Screen Sharing and use your user account. Apparently they reverse engineered whatever authentication method Apple does. iTap had it for a while while Remoter added it within the last few months.
    The pro is that most VNC clients don't support Apple's authentication, so it basically limits what can connect to your machine. And since you're using a username/password combo I guess it's a bit more complex vs just needing that single VNC password to connect.

    A possible con would be that you need to enter your username/password (i.e. if you're paranoid about entering that anywhere but your Mac). You might be able to make a lower privileged user just for screen sharing user but I haven't bothered with looking into that.

    As long as you have the relevant ports on the AP Extreme closed you're pretty safe really. Barring exploits (which would be out of your control for the most part) or other inroads to your LAN (like SSH tunneling) it'd be pretty hard for an outsider to get a connection. Of course if someone is already on the LAN then you'd basically just be depending on the strength of your password at that point.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #13
    How is that done?
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #14
    note that you are going to run into some graphical issues managing your Plex library via remoting into your mini from the iPad. The mini needs to detect a physical monitor attached to properly display some things (openGL/openCL issue?).

    When I try to manage my Plex library I get a black window where the movie art should be. if I turn on the receiver that I have the mini hooked up to (in your case the projector if its hooked up directly) then all is ok since the mini now sees the device as a monitor.

    Not the end of the world but it make managing Plex kind of cumbersome.
     
  15. macrumors 68030

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    Winnipeg MB
    #15
    Plex Web Interface

    There's a somewhat new feature in Plex that is a web-based version of the server Media Manager. Not 100% there yet, but it's an excellent alternative for simple library updates. To get there (assuming you're using the default port for Plex), just go to http://yourserveraddress:32400
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #16
    I think you need the word "manage" at the end of that url:

    http://yourserveraddress:32400/manage

    I have had issues with the web interface. It comes up but I cant click on anything?
     
  17. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #17
    Let me rephrase that: If I don't forward port 5900 is that the same as closing it or is that a different thing?

    Again, forgive my ignorance. That's why it says newbie under my name.
     
  18. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #18
    Yeah...basically don't do anything with the AirPort and you should be fine. Fowarding is more or less the same meaning as opening the ports. By default I believe nothing is forwarded/open.

    As for Plex, could you get stuff done using some Plex remote control app for the iPad, or do you need to use the regular Mac interface as well as Plex?
     
  19. thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #19
    Thanks japtor. Much appreciated.

    In terms of controlling Plex, when the projector is fired up I can use a remote. I have the Apple Remote app as well as the physical Apple remote, so I'll see how that goes. It's when I can't be arsed to put the screen down and use the projector that I need Mac interface and use my iPad as a monitor/controller.
     
  20. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #20
    I may be mistaken but just using standard screen sharing is not very safe. Yes, you need a username/password to connect to the remote machine but all transmissions are unencrypted (including possibly the username and password itself). It might be okay if you only do it behind your router firewall but it still seems a little sketchy.

    You really should set up an SSH tunnel, which encrypts all transmissions going through it, then use the screen sharing through the tunnel.

    I'm pretty sure the above info applies to Macs connecting to other Macs via Leopard/SL/Lion screen sharing. I'm not sure if the iPad apps can be configured for SSH or not.

    Ruahrc
     
  21. thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #21
    Ruahrc,

    These are the types of concerns that I had when looking into the whole concept of VNC.

    I want to connect my iPad to my Mac mini within the confines of my own local network without the possibility of opening up any security holes.

    I can see for people who want to access their Macs while travelling, but this is not the case here.

    Does anyone have any further thoughts on keeping this secure locally? Is there anything to worry about here, or not?
     
  22. japtor, Aug 26, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #22
    Remoter does SSH tunneling with a ~$1 in app purchase, although I saw on the last update notes it's buggy right now (but will be fixed in a day or two).

    What type of area do you live in? Like an apartment where people could conceivably be sniffing your network? I forget if that's actually possible or not with WPA and not being connected to the network, but that's what encrypting the connection would protect against (as well as other people on the LAN).
     
  23. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    #23
    Not in an apartment and not really too concerned about anyone breaking into my LAN. I do Mac address filtering and try and keep it fairly tightly controlled but who knows? Main concern is someone coming in over the Internet. I don't have enough knowledge about how VNC works from that standpoint to really access the risk.
     
  24. macrumors member

    Parystec

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    #24
    Hi you will find VNC Pocket Office on the iPad and mini had automatic detection to Bonjour for the mack and its default port is 5900. All you need to do is set on Screen sharing and tick the VNC option adding password.:)
     
  25. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #25
    I enabled screen sharing on my Mac Mini and use the app 'VNC Viewer' on my iPad to connect to it. You have the option to connecting securely if you want to.
    No third party applications required, and no access from outside.

    I wouldnt mind secure access from outside though personally. May explore creating a VPN on my Mac Mini Server...... I did try Teamviewer but it doesnt wake the Mini from sleep mode, so is pretty much useless anyway!
     

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