Friday, October 30, 2009

I <3 Apple Remote Desktop

This morning I was reminded of how much I love Apple's Remote Desktop because of the way it simplifies managing a large group of Macs.

I run a Self-Cleaning Oven Model on the student Macs at work. Basically, when the user logs out the contents of her or his /Users directory is copied to /tmp and a new copy of the template is copied into place. If a student leaves folders all over the desktop or otherwise modifies the configuration everything is put back into place. This ensures consistency for each user of the computer.

I ran into an issue where TextEdit, which I use with the third grade, was configured for plain text rather than Rich Text Format and I needed to change this preference. Since the self-cleaning oven is launched with a logout hook it is a pain to turn off the hook, make the changes, copy the new template to /var/root and repeat this many times. Enter Remote Desktop: in twenty minutes I copied the TextEdit preference into five User directories as well as the "golden master" templates in /var/root and had TextEdit configured.

Next I needed to deal with an issue with the LaunchServices and quarantine feature in OS X 10.5.x. When an application is downloaded from the Internet the system flags it. When the user opens the application for the first time she or he is warned it came from the Internet and is she or he certain she or he wants to open it. Again, the self-cleaning oven resets the user's directory after every use, so it is a pain to affect this change. It is also a pain for Kindergarteners to click through two separate dialog boxes to get a webpage open. I found a one-line UNIX command that would remove the quarantine from all the applications. I put it in a three line shell script, copied it to the clients, and ran it. In the end I had no more dialog boxes to click through before the web page opened.

I finished up my Remote Desktop adventure this morning by updating Flash. Between the shell script and the Flash update I put in half an hour of work. If I had to touch each computer it certainly would have taken much longer to do this manually. Here's to saving time!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Meanwhile, the Windows version is incredibly broken and its failure is allowing an entire industry of remote desktop software products to thrive. Don't get me wrong, I do like MS and most of their products, but their remote connection software needs to be taken out back and shot.