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We have some developers and designers who need occasional access to a Mac desktop. Is it possible to purchase a single Mac (perhaps a Mini or Pro) and allow multiple users running Windows and Linux to remote desktop into their own accounts on that machine? Can they use it concurrently? What are the issues we're likely to run into? Would it be VNC client/server or does OS X have its own flavor of remote desktop?

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3 Answers 3

First off a little bit of information. Apple uses VNC as the underlying technology for their remote client (Apple Remote Desktop). In any machine you purchase now it will include "Screen Sharing" which is also a VNC based solution (single session). Any VNC client (win/linux/mac) can connect to this.

In OSX Lion they added Per-user screen sharing Where you can remotely log in to a Mac with any user account on that computer and control it, without interrupting someone else who might be using the computer under a different login.

In testing it (from windows) it mostly works. Just launch a VNC client and connect to the server with the display password, then you need to log in again with the local user password.

The following Discussion Page at apple forums gives more information. Good Luck.

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There is a solution if you're not yet up to Lion.

Install Vine VNC Server and use a different port for each 'desktop' or user account.

So if the computer was at 192.168.0.100,

  • user 1 would be 192.168.0.100:5900
  • user 2 would be 192.168.0.100:5901

and so on.

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To my knowledge VNC will only allow you to operate in a single session; however, in OSX Lion you do have this functionality to my belief, but you have to be doing it from a native osx machine using Apple Remote Desktop.

There isn't an Apple Remote Desktop client for Windows/Linux to my knowledge.

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I'm pretty sure this requires Lion Screen Sharing, not ARD. Although it might be possible with ARD, the built in Screen Sharing on OSX will allow multiple, simultanouse logins with discrete users account and desktops. However, I believe it can still only be done with another Mac running Lion. –  gaige Feb 14 '12 at 17:21

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