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Configuring Remote Desktop Clients

The last topic in this article is the configuration of Remote Desktop clients. As I said earlier, each computer that will be managed by Remote Desktop must be configured with Remote Desktop user accounts and associated privileges. You can also configure several other features of the Remote Desktop client. There are three ways to adjust the Remote Desktop client configuration of a workstation.

System Preferences

The most basic way to configure the Remote Desktop client is by manually using System Preferences on a computer to be managed. To enable and configure the client, launch System Preferences and select the Sharing pane. On the Services tab of the Sharing pane (the first one displayed), select the checkbox next to Apple Remote Desktop to enable remote management. When you select Apple Remote Desktop, you will also see a checkbox to determine whether the Remote Desktop status icon is displayed in the menu bar of the computer and an Access Privileges button that you can use to configure Remote Desktop user accounts and privileges. When you click the Access Privileges button, you will see the dialog box displayed in Figure 5.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Remote Desktop access privileges dialog box

The top half of this dialog box relates to user accounts and privileges. There is a list box containing all local user accounts created on the computer. Checking the On checkbox next to an account allows that account to authenticate to the computer using Remote Desktop. When you select an account, the checkboxes to the right enable you to designate which of the Remote Desktop privileges that account will have. The permission for Control is under Observe and the option to determine whether users of the workstation will see a change in the menu bar icon that indicates when they are being observed.

The second half of the dialog box includes options for allowing Guests (users who are not granted Remote Desktop privileges to administer or control a workstation) to request control of the screen remotely and an option to enable the computer to be controlled using the multiplatform VNC protocol. VNC does not encrypt observe and control information and requires only a single password (entered in this same dialog box) to gain access to a workstation—making it far less secure. The trade-off is that VNC viewers are available for all major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and even classic Mac OS versions and some handheld devices) and are typically free.

The final section of the dialog box enables you to specify four custom computer information fields that can be queried as part of Remote Desktop reports. You can put anything you want into these fields, which can make them helpful for inventory purposes. For example, you can include purchase or in-service dates, inventory tag numbers, purchase order information, departmental ownership, or primary user (to name just a few).

Custom Install Packages

A much simpler way to configure clients is to take advantage of Remote Desktop’s custom installer package feature. This feature, which is accessed using the Create Client Installer command from the File menu, enables you to create an install package that can be used to upgrade the Remote Desktop client on the computer that you want to manage and to configure the client at the same time (saving you the headache of configuring each computer manually). The Create Client Installer dialog box walks you through each step in the configuration process: choosing to enable (or disable) the Remote Desktop client, whether to show the menu bar status icon, whether to create new local user accounts specifically for Remote Desktop management, enabling remote management using network accounts, setting Remote Desktop privileges for new or existing local user accounts, setting the Guest control request option, enabling(or disabling) and configuring a password for VNC access, and specifying data in the four administrator-defined system data fields.

The install package can be saved and distributed to workstations manually or by using the Secure Copy Unix command. If you distribute using the Secure Copy command, you can also use SSH to remotely invoke the command-line version of the Mac OS X Installer application to install the package, thus configuring the Remote Desktop client remotely.

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