Ex-Windows user needs VPN and Remote Desktop help

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by marvin4653, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. marvin4653, Sep 5, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012

    marvin4653 macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Could someone give me a little advice on VPN and remote access on OS X? I'm still a little new to OS X from Windows.

    Right now I have a Macbook Air and a headless tower running W7. I use the W7 machine to store all my files and to act as a VPN host so that I can connect to my home LAN from my Air when I'm away from my apartment. I have Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection for Mac installed on my Air so that I can control the headless W7 machine from my Air.

    I'm thinking about swapping out the W7 tower for a Mac Mini. I'm trying to figure out how to replicate the functionality I have now.

    It looks like I can run the server edition of OS X on the Mini to allow the Mini to act as a VPN host, like the W7 machine is doing now. Is that right?

    Then, once I've successfully connected my Air to my home LAN through the VPN, what is the equivalent OS X application to Microsoft RDC that will allow me to control the Mini from the Air as though I was sitting in front of the Mini with a monitor and a keyboard/mouse?
  2. viktormadarasz macrumors member


    Jun 15, 2010
    VNC Client

    I guess any VNC Client will let you remote connect from the Air to the Mini and control it with no hassle at all...I do the same from iPad to Imac also without an issue

    You need a VNC Client thats all....It can be Teamviewer *free and goes through whatever network settings you use &firewalls, whatever&

    You can go with online solutions too like LogMeIn from the Air to Mini the free version is more than enough

    Was this more or less what you were looking for?


  3. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    I'm currently doing this through my Airport Extreme. What router do you have? Do you plan to put the MM with MLS directly connected to the Internet or port forward?
  4. marvin4653, Sep 6, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012

    marvin4653 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Thanks both of you for your help, I really appreciate it.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding them, but it seems like Teamviewer and LogMeIn are primarily designed to allow remote access over WAN without any user configuration. In other words, they allow a user to control another computer from outside of the remote computer's LAN without the user needing to first create a VPN connection. Since I would actually be going to the trouble of first creating a VPN connection through OS X Server, it seems to me that I wouldn't need software like Teamviewer and LogMeIn that is designed to allow remote connectivity without a VPN in place.

    I'm more looking for a direct equivalent to Microsoft RDC: free client software, provided by Microsoft, that does nothing more than allow a user on the same LAN as another computer to log in to the remote computer and control it. Since I'll effectively be on the same LAN as the Mini by connecting through VPN, I don't need software that can establish a remote connection over WAN without a user-created VPN. I'm guessing Apple must offer or supply an application with similar functionality, I'm just having a hard time finding it (every time I search for "Mac remote desktop" and the like I keep finding the Mac version of the Microsoft RDC [which allows a Mac to remotely connect to a Windows machine]).

    In other words, if you had two Macs on the same LAN (for example, two computers in the same house connected to the same wireless network), and wanted to control one machine from the other, how would you do it?

    I have a Linksys E2000 (which to the best of my knowledge can't act as a VPN server). I'm planning to put the Mini behind the router and port forward. Right now my W7 machine is behind the router, with port 1723 forwarded to the W7 machine to enable me to use it as a VPN server.
  5. marvin4653 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Am I perhaps just looking for Screen Sharing once I'm connected to the VPN?


    "Beginning with Leopard Apple started including a built-in screen sharing service and viewer application called Screen Sharing (very original name). On your local network (wired or WiFi) shared systems will appear via Bonjour in the Finder sidebar. Click on them, and you’ll see a Share Screen… button. Access is usually fast and elegant on a local network."

  6. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    Once you are connected via VPN to your MacMini, you can connect whatever ways you want that you enabled in Sharing.

    command + K allows you to setup screenshare as well. Just type in:


    Then hit + to save it or just hit Connect.
  7. marvin4653 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Perfect, thanks so much!
  8. matspekkie macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2010
    Build-in osx there is screensharing VNC based it is really easy to setup. Go to sharing and select screensharing. Since Lion (10.7) it is also multi user screen like terminal server windows. Here you can also control access to specific people with rights. If you would like more options such as drag/drop copy, chat remote power on/off, remote install etc etc you could go for Apple remote Destop. http://www.apple.com/remotedesktop/ The last being more advanced not free of charge and geared towards enterprise environments.
    Hope it helps you .
  9. marvin4653 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2012
    Thanks for that info. I'm curious, what would happen pre-Lion if a user attempted to connect to a remote machine that had multiple user accounts?
  10. rctlr macrumors 6502a

    May 9, 2012
    The standard OS-X can be a VPN server - use easyvpn to setup.
    For VNC, enable Screen Sharing within Sharing in System Preferences.

    On your air, set up your vpn client to talk to the new vpn server, and use a VPN client once connected - I used RealVNC Viewer.

    I have a Mac Mini (Snow Leopard) setup this way, and I use a MBP and iphone to VPN into the network, and VNC to the mac mini's local IP (192.168.x.x)

  11. matspekkie macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2010
    Not sure where you use Realvnc for since vnc-client is allready buildin.

    see mwhities's post
  12. rctlr macrumors 6502a

    May 9, 2012
    If all things were equal, I'd agree, but there is an instance, where I've needed realvnc or indeed mochavnc (on iOS) whilst Im not on VPN or on the Local Network.
  13. PrePressAcrobat macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010
    If you want to hit the MAC server from your local network
    a remote client comes with the server software
    so you can work right on/in the server from any other MAC.


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