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.

 
AAPL
$524.94
Apple Inc.
+5.93
MSFT
$40.01
Microsoft Corpora
-0.39
GOOG
$536.10
Google Inc.
-20.44

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Mac DVDRipper Pro 4.1.7 - Copy, backup,...
Mac DVDRipper Pro is the DVD backup solution that lets you protect your DVDs from scratches, save your batteries by reading your movies from your hard disk, manage your collection with just a few... Read more
PDFpenPro 6.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit for...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Create... Read more
PDFpen 6.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs with...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
Monolingual 1.5.9 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 1.1.1.180...
Download the patch by launching the Starcraft II game and downloading it through the Battle.net connection within the app. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a strategy game played in real-time. You... Read more
Sibelius 7.5.0 - Music notation solution...
Sibelius is the world's best-selling music notation software for Mac. It is as intuitive to use as a pen, yet so powerful that it does most things in less than the blink of an eye. The demo includes... Read more
Typinator 5.9 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.16 - Create inventories...
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more
TurboTax 2013.r17.002 - Manage your 2013...
TurboTax guides you through your tax return step by step, does all the calculations, and checks your return for errors and overlooked deductions. It lets you file your return electronically to get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Bas...
Have a Special Dead Trigger 2 Easter Basket Full of Goodies, Courtesy of Madfinger Games Posted by Rob Rich on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Trigger 2 | Read more »
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Exper...
Zynga Launches Brand New Farmville Experience with Farmville 2: Country Escape Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
David. Review
David. Review By Cata Modorcea on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MINIMALISTIC IN A DIFFERENT WAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad David is a minimalistic game wrapped inside of a soothing atmosphere in which the hero... | Read more »
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service Th...
Eyefi Unveils New Eyefi Cloud Service That Allows Users to Share Media Across Personal Devices Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair...
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair Review By Jennifer Allen on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STEADY ADVENTURINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Treading a safe path, Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Lair is a... | Read more »
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced E...
Yahoo Updates Flickr App with Advanced Editing Features and More Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to...
My Incredible Body - A Kid's App to Learn about the Human Body 1.1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.00 (iTunes) Description: Wouldn’t it be cool to look inside yourself and see what was going on... | Read more »
Trials Frontier Review
Trials Frontier Review By Carter Dotson on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A ROUGH LANDINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Trials Frontier finally brings the famed stunt racing franchise to mobile, but how much does its... | Read more »
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin I...
Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskin Introduced – Support Available in Evernote for iOS Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Sparkle Unleashed Review
Sparkle Unleashed Review By Jennifer Allen on April 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY MARBLE FLINGINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s a concept we’ve seen before, but Sparkle Unleashed is a solidly enjoyable orb... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP this we...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
iPad Airs on sale this weekend for up to $100...
Best Buy has WiFi iPad Airs on sale for $50 off MSRP and WiFi + Cellular iPad Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time, with prices now starting at $449. Choose free... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more
Hyundai Brings Apple CarPlay To The 2015 Sona...
Hyundai Motor America has announced it will bring Apple CarPlay functionality to the 2015 Sonata. CarPlay is pitched as a smarter, safer and easier way to use iPhone in the car and gives iPhone users... Read more
Updated iPads Coming Sooner Than We Had Thoug...
MacRumors, cites KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, well-respected as an Apple product prognisticator, saying that Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini in 2014/Q3, meaning the... Read more
Toshiba Unveils New High And Low End Laptop M...
Toshiba has announced new laptop models covering both the high-end and low-end of the notebook computer spectrum. Toshiba 4K Ultra HD Laptop Toshiba’s new Satellite P55t features one of the world’s... Read more
Save up to $270 with Apple refurbished 13-inc...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished October 2013 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available starting at $1099, with models up to $270 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished iPad mini with...
The Apple Store has Certified Refurbished 2nd generation iPad minis with Retina Displays now available starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free.... Read more
Microsoft Blinks – Drops Microsoft Office 365...
Microsoft has dropped the annual subscription fee for Microsoft Office 365 Personal – which is needed in order to create and edit documents in Microsoft Office for iPad. However, Apple’s iOS and OS X... Read more
New AVG Vault Apps for iOS and Android Help K...
AVG Technologies N.V. an online security company for 177 million active users, has announced the launch of its latest mobile application, AVG Vault. The free app introduces an innovative user... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - Holyoke - Apple I...
Job Summary Keeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you’re a master of them all. In the store’s fast-paced, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Manager - Apple (United Sta...
Job SummaryKeeping an Apple Store thriving requires a diverse set of leadership skills, and as a Manager, you're a master of them all. In the store's fast-paced, dynamic Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Retail - Market Leader - Cincinnati...
…challenges of developing individuals, building teams, and affecting growth across Apple Stores. You demonstrate successful leadership ability - focusing on excellence Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.