Second user, second display?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by mrgreen4242, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #1
    OK, I've seen the method to setup Fast User Switching to allow a second usert to VNC into a Mac and use it at the same time as a user logged into the physical lmachine, and that's pretty darn slick. However, most ideal would be to somehow assign the second user to an extended desktop/second monitor attached to the Mac so the output is shown for both users in "real time" via a plain old VGA/DVI connection and the input for the second user is handled over the VNC connection.

    Anyone know if this is possible?? It might be the case that if I setup the network between the PC client and the Mac server via FW400 it will be fast enough to appear real time/native, but just plugging the second users display into the Mac directly seems like it would be the preferrable solution (the systems are <10ft away).

    Thanks.
     
  2. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    When you connect to a Mac with VNC, you see the same desktop as the person seated at the machine. The two of you are fighting over one mouse and a single set of running applications. Even Apple Remote Desktop does not include the ability to launch a second desktop on a remote machine and relies on the clunky "curtain mode" which locks out the local user so the remote admin can work without being seen.

    In a "normal" Unix environment you can telnet or ssh to a linux box and set a DISPLAY environment variable to route graphics to a remote display. I would imagine Apple doesn't want to get its users involved in this kind of thing and intentionally breaks this feature or makes it hard to find.
     
  3. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #3
    You are normally correct, but... well, just read this. http://www.redstonesoftware.com/multidesktop.html
     
  4. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #4
    If you have a half dozen Linux boxes sitting in a room, all these capabilities are built in. No $5,000 add-on software plus $150 per support incident required. No requirement that you be logged in using fast user switching to enable the server. If the local user is holding control while I type A, I get "control-A". ?!? :eek: What a hack! What an overpriced hack! Even at $35 per nodelocked viewer, I have no interest in vine server.

    I would be looking for something simpler that doesn't require a third party "server" to be running on the system I'm connecting to. I should be able to log in via ssh, set some sort of display parameter from the command line (or have it figured out automatically), then launch an app like system preferences from the command line and it comes up normally but sends all it's pixels to me and takes all of it's commands from me via the network instead of the local display/keyboard on the machine I ssh to. All the settings I change take effect on the machine I ssh to.

    Apple uses the "Model View Controller" approach. When you sit at a Mac, you see the "view" on your screen. The "controller" is your input at the keyboard. The "model" is the software you are running. For this to work seamlessly, you needn't create an entire desktop and populate it with a dock,etc for every remote user. You merely accept network input as the controller and export graphical results to the network as the view. This can be done an an application by application basis.

    I would expect a feature like this to show up in a future release of ARD. That cheesy curtain mode is not the way to administer remote machines. Admin of remote machines should be non invasive and allow the user to keep working. I don't want my kids to see me inspecting their parental control logs but I don't want to stop them from doing their homework while I'm looking either. It's hard for me to get used to the limitations Apple places on Darwin when I have had these capabilities on Unix and Linux for over 15 years now.
     
  5. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #5
    1) Vine server is free.
    2) This is apparantly something OS X handles natively singe Tiger (http://macosx.com/forums/howto-faqs/52547-howto-simultaneous-user-environments-via-vnc.html). I'm pretty sure 10.4+ even has a built in VNC server, but if not there's plenty available for free.
    3) You are correct that the best system would be an XWindows like client/server so that the user would run a client session where-ever they are and all you need to push over the network are input (keyboard/mouse) and output draw DIRECTIONS (not a whole screen image). That said,
    4) If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak.
    5) This VNC login to a Fast User Switching account is something that does work, and I'm just looking for ways to improve it. Having realtime access to my GPU and half my VRAM to draw the screen for both users would be an improvement.
    6) From the sounds of things, 10.5 or a late version of 10.4 fixed the keyboard input issues. Even so, it's not incredibly likely to cause problems with two people, in my opinion. Would I want to deploy this as an enterprise solution that way? No, but for two people at home it would certainly get the job done.

    The scenerio is this: I have an iMac (see sig) that's plenty fast and is sitting idle most of the time, even when I'm actively using it. Wife has an old Dell machine. P4, integrated graphics, 512mb RAM, etc. It's fine for everything she does except she would like to be able to create home movies from our video and photos of our son. There's Windows solutions for this, but frankly, iLife is by far the best suite of applications for this. From iPhoto to iMovie to iDVD I think we can all agree that for even the novice user who is computer literate these apps are fantastic.

    So, the choice is to buy her a new/used Mac ($250-500), plus whatever cost and time to find and learn some replacement software for a few things she uses regularly (MS Money in particular), OR we can hot-seat computer share my iMac so she can use iLife to do movie editing and photo slideshows and stuff on.

    She's too cheap to buy a new computer (see 6 month old son referenced above) and while hot-seat switching would work most of the time, there will be times where the schedules will collide, and I like having MY Mac...

    Now, if I can rig up her Dell to let her use my iMac from her seat it solves the problem for the cost of a $5 piece of cabling (we use wireless for our internet connection, so I'd create a little point to point network between our machines, likely using a length of FW400 cable, or a PCI gigabit ethernet card for her machine).

    It would probably be fast enough to work alright, but if I could connect my mini-DVI port to her monitor (and her Dell over VGA) so she could launch the VNC app and then just switch monitor inputs it would probably so near seamless that she'd think she had a Mac.

    Maybe I'm misinterpretting your post, but you seem almost hostle about it. I know it's not the BEST solution, but it is one that WORKS and works NOW. Hopefully Apple will dramatically improve the remote desktop and remote administration services, but in the meantime... well, getting this to work could easily save me over $500, so I think it's worth discussing.

    Footnote: at work, using IE (blech), no spellchecker plugin installed, so I apologize for my sloppy spelling. I'm not stupid just extremely reliant on my spellcheck. :p
     
  6. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #6
    You are right. My reaction to vine was hostile. I went to their price page and was confronted with prices ranging from $600 to $5000 with the $35 client price buried between it's higher priced cousins. I knew the server was free, but don't you need their viewer? If their server works with any vnc, then I could always run "chicken of the vnc" freeware as a client, my reaction would change entirely. I can be very forgiving of clunky freeware, but when I have to write a check for something, there really shouldn't be any excuses.

    I would not want to be logged in as me on my kids' machines because there is the risk of my account being compromised and then they would override all those parental controls I have set. They have already done it. Twice. Once when they got my password from my wife and once when she wrote it down and they found the slip of paper. Now I'm the only one that knows the admin password and my kids aren't up all night in facebook and ichat.

    Having to stay "logged in" on the remote system is not something I'm willing to consider or even discuss as part of a remote admin solution.

    But when it comes to simply "sharing" a machine, vine looks much more reasonable and attractive. Since you are looking to have your wife share the machine while you do something else, and since she is using Windows, that implies the vine server is viewable with a standard vnc client? That is definitely an attractive solution. I can't use it for remote admin just yet, but it is useful in its own right especially if you can use their free server with a "standard" windows or osx vnc client.
     
  7. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #7
    It is just a standard VNC server, so any VNC client will work. The only trouble I see with this setup is response time when editing video (that's a lot of data to move over a network connection) - hence the asking about just running the second user on an extended desktop type configured second monitor and using VNC just for input (no other way to get OSX to recognize a separate keyb/mouse). That and sound. No idea if VNC supports sounds. I've seen it done, but only in a clunky way of detecting when system alerts are played and making the local system beep and blip.

    You're right that it's not useful for what you want to do, but it's what's available so I'm going to keep investigating it. :)

    EDIT: BTW, thanks for the correct spelling of hostile. I had hostel, as in hotel-like place to stay, stuck in my head and just couldn't shake it. :p
     
  8. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #8
    OK, got home set it up and it works. Not perfect but it's a start. Video, even using UltraVNC w/ its special video driver hooks it's not good enough for video or even photo editing.

    But that's just with 100mbit ethernet, so I'll try FW400 as soon as I can find a long enough cable, and/or gigabit ethernet if I find a cheap enough card for the PC...
     

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