AquaConnect helps Macs, others share desktop apps

By Ryan Faas, Computerworld |  Hardware, AquaConnect, Servers

The Users tab contains a list of user accounts (including the user's short or log-in name, full name and the date/time of his or her last terminal sessions) available to the server ? either local accounts or those in a shared directory system. The same tab allows an administrator to enable each account to access a terminal session via a checkbox. The tab also includes a button to disconnect a selected user from the server and a slider to adjust the priority users have to access system resources. The latter feature is helpful if you have a diverse group of users, including some who have more important or more resource-intensive needs.

A separate set of AquaConnect administrator accounts is maintained for access to manage the AquaConnect pane in System Preferences. These admin accounts are separate from any actual user accounts, including any local administrator accounts. By default, a single account with a password is created when AquaConnect is installed. Additional AquaConnect admin accounts can easily be created, and the password for each admin (including the default admin) can be reset.

This isn't an immediately intuitive approach, but once you are aware of it, it presents no major issue. The Admins tab lists the existing AquaConnect admin accounts and allows you to add or remove admin accounts or change a password.

It's interesting to note that when AquaConnect is used as a stand-alone server, if users rely solely on it for access to Mac OS X and Mac applications, the user experience is very similar to that for an Open Directory infrastructure with network home directories. They experience the same set of preferences and Mac OS X settings wherever they log in. And they have access to their files stored in their home folders, as well as access to the Public folder in one another's home folders and to the Shared Items folder on the server. Users can also access any other folders with appropriate administrator-defined permissions on the server.

Note: As part of the upcoming update to AquaConnect, a new, more streamlined and detailed management interface is planned.

Connecting to an AquaConnect server
The process of connecting to AquaConnect is the same as connecting to any device with an installed VNC server (though this will obviously change in future versions, when RDP or X11 will be used as a connection mechanism). Enter the IP address of the server (without a VNC password) and click "Connect." Unless you are using a nonstandard VNC port or one of the security options mentioned earlier, the VNC client requires no further configuration.

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