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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Artlantis Studio 5.1.2.7 - 3D rendering...
Artlantis Studio is a unique and ideal tool for performing very high resolution rendering easily and in real time. The new FastRadiosity engine now lets you compute images in radiosity-even in... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.5 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 2.0.82 - Sync files secu...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Google Drive 1.20 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Simon 4.0.3 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.23 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
iDefrag 5.0.0 - Disk defragmentation and...
iDefrag helps defragment and optimize your disk for improved performance. Features include: Supports HFS and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended). Supports case sensitive and journaled filesystems. Supports... Read more
PCalc 4.2 - Full-featured scientific cal...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
FileZilla 3.10.2 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.10.2: Note: Now requires a 64-bit Intel processor.... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.11 - Advanced reminder...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more

Protect Yourself from an Onslaught of Ca...
Surprise Attack Games has announced a Cat-astrophic new physics puzzler called Fort Meow! In the game, a young girl named Nia finds her grandfather’s journal which triggers an all mighty feline attack! Why do the cats want the journal? Who knows,... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’...
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’s Last Hurrah, and it Seems like a Good Note to Go Out on Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] It’s sad knowing that Game Oven ( | Read more »
daWindci Deluxe Review
daWindci Deluxe Review By Campbell Bird on March 4th, 2015 Our Rating: :: BLUSTERY PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This updated puzzle game offers some creative gameplay and new mechanics, but still suffers from... | Read more »
Dungeon Hunter 5 Coming on March 12
Gameloft has excitedly announced that Dungeon Hunter 5 is on its way! Once again, you will adventure across the land of Valenthia exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. The game will have a new asynchronous multiplayer mode called Strongholds... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and...
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and Now it has Textures! | Read more »
Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Mort...
Mortal Kombat X, by Warner Bros. and NetherRealm Studios, will be a a free-to-play fighting/card-battle Mortal Kombat game. The game promises card collecting, multiplayer team combat, classic characters such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden, and the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella...
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella’s Latest Project, and it’s Definitely Something DIfferent Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You know | Read more »
PangoLand Review
PangoLand Review By Amy Solomon on March 3rd, 2015 Our Rating: :: COME VISIT PANGO AND FRIENDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PangoLand is an open-ended world full of familiar characters, bright colors and interactive... | Read more »
Knights of Pen & Paper is Leveling U...
With the roll of a die and a critical success, Paradox Interactive has announced Knights of Pen & Paper 2! You’ll be taking your place at the table once again in this sequel to Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition. The game will introduce the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Project Highrise is an Intere...
GDC 2015 – Project Highrise is an Interesting Idea from SomaSim Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You might know SomaSim best from their gold rush sim, 1849< | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iPad: A More Positive Outlook – The ‘Book Mys...
It’s good to hear someone saying positive things about the iPad. I’ve been trying to bend my mind around how Apple’s tablet could have gone from zero to bestselling personal computing device on the... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $279 off MSRP
Amazon has Mac Pros in stock and on sale for up to $279 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 4-Core Mac Pro: $2725.87, $273 off MSRP (9%) - 6-Core Mac Pro: $3719.99, $279 off MSRP (7%) Read more
Sale! 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $205 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1219.99 save $80 - 13″ 2.... Read more
Another Tranche Of IBM MobileFirst For iOS Ap...
IBM has announced the next expansion phase for  its IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio, with a troika of new apps to address key priorities for the Banking and Financial Services, Airline and Retail... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
WaterField Designs Introduces the Minimalist...
With Apple Pay gaining popularity, Android Pay coming in May 2015, and loyalty cards and receipts that can be accessed from smartphones, San Francisco’s WaterField Designs observes that it may be... Read more
Sale! 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1774.99 $1799.99, or $225 off MSRP. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid for online orders... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $170 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Pay Automation Engineer - iOS System...
**Job Summary** At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring passion and dedication to your job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.