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10.7: Multi-user Screen Sharing
Authored by: Makosuke on Nov 04, '11 12:55:29PM

Your dual login is very much treated as your own login, just with a headless windowmanager. This capability has, in simpler form, existed for a while--you could ARD into a headless server Mac and get a GUI, despite it not "mirroring" anything. It was just that until 10.7 you couldn't have more than one at a time.

And it mostly works well, in my relatively limited testing of connecting to a computer that someone else was physically in front of at the same time.

There has, sadly, been a step back in one particular use case of headless Macs common to home theater setups; the workaround for this might even warrant a hint.

The case is thus: You have a Mac Mini connected to your TV through a home theater audio system. You turn the TV and computer on, and use the computer some. Then you turn the TV and audio system off, rendering the Mac headless (it sees its attached monitor disappear entirely).

Under 10.6 (or 10.5), if you then used Screen Sharing to connect to the Mac, you would get the screen, at the HDTV resolution it last saw, just the way you'd left it when you turned the TV off. Very convenient.

Under 10.7.2, this doesn't work so well; when you connect remotely, you get the full-sized screen, but it registers as if the screen is 0 by 0 as far as automatic positioning is concerned. This means that any new windows that open are shoved into the far lower left corner of the screen with nothing but the title bar visible, you are unable to expand most windows (iTunes, say) beyond the minimum size, and all the desktop icons are piled up in the bottom left corner. It's completely unusable.

The workaround is this: If you select "Log out" from the Apple menu, then hit return (the confirmation dialog will be offscreen at the bottom, but the return key hits "ok" by default), it will log you out. You may need to reconnect with screen sharing at this point, but you will now have the login screen; if you log in from there, you will get a fully functioning headless desktop environment. The only (possible) disadvantage is that the resolution (at least for me) defaults to 1680x1050 (which actually works okay, since it doesn't require the remote image to be rescaled to fit on the laptop screen I'm using).

The extra step is a hassle, but it does make the setup at least usable. Hopefully the kinks will get worked out and this will be smoother in a later 10.7 iteration.



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