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We are a small team of developers and we would like to buy a Mac mini in order to develop for iOS.

We would like to know if it is possible for several users to log in remotely to the Mac mini (using VNC or something similar), each of us having his own desktop (not as VNC does by default).

Is this possible? If yes, which software does it require? (The client machines run on Windows.)

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Possible dupe: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/24976/… –  Ken Jun 18 '12 at 16:49

5 Answers 5

Yes, you can do this in Mac OS X 10.7 and later. Just set up an account for each user and enable VNC (System Preferences => Sharing => Screen Sharing).

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I tried this on a macbook pro. When I connect with VNC from the Windows computer I only get a grey screen (the background of the login screen). If no user is logged on the macbook, I get the login screen but then both computers see and control the same session. –  Jukurrpa Jun 18 '12 at 11:43
Are you sure you're running 10.7 (Lion) ? –  Paul R Jun 18 '12 at 13:51

Yes, it is possible. But both computers must be running Lion.

In the Host Mac go to System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing and enable it. Check the preferences, too.

In the Remote Mac just hit Command+K and type vnc:// and the IP address of the Computer.

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We are trying to remotely connect from Windows computers unfortunately... Our point is to avoid having to buy several apple computers :) –  Jukurrpa Jun 18 '12 at 11:44

You can login several user at a time by enabling "Remote Login", however this will enable many user to login via ssh / scp means. Which might be workable if you want access to terminal tools including xcode's command line interface for building projects you can use things like gcc or xcodebuild via a ssh session.

If getting each additional user access to their own GUI is your goal, I am not sure that is possible with the built in VNC server. There is an interesting solution 10.4: Use multiple simulataneous GUI accounts noted on Mac OS X Hints that may be the answer to your question, however it was tested on Mac OS 10.4, not sure if it sill works on OS X Lion, etc.

Their solution is:

After you have two or more accounts set up on one Mac, install OSXvnc and start the server. Once started, Fast User Switch to the other user on the machine.

Now from another computer, use a VNC viewer like Chicken of the VNC and point it to the Mac. Even though the Mac is logged in as another user, your VNC session goes to the original account, allowing both of you to use the machine at the same time.

When testing, this is seemed to work well, although you have to wonder if there will be problems with system calls from the same programs happening simutaneously. I've only been running this for about two hours, but no problems so far.

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Mac OS X doesn't support this out of the box, as far as I know, at least not for Windows clients.

Because of that you will want 3rd party software such as Aqua Connect or iRAPP terminal server.

Apple have screen sharing, but it is VNC-based (the extensions to 'screen sharing' to allow more than one connection requires a mac client, I believe) and all indications are that the Lion implementation of VNC is broken, especially when trying to access it from Windows clients.

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It sounds like what you want is to run multiple instances of virtual machines on your mac and have each of your developers log into a separate instance.

I don't think the mini has enough memory to do this though. You may have to make a larger investment in a low end model Mac Pro or mid to high end iMac. Get VMWare or virtualbox, and set up a couple of virtual machines.

A lot of what you are going to be capable of is going to depend on memory and processor cores. The more of each the better. You may also need separate os licenses to be legal, but checking with Apple on that front would be your best bet. You may want to look into Mac OSX Server for your host os as well to see if it will give you any performance benefit.

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