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I have a home office network comprised of:

  • 1 Time Capsule
  • 2 27" iMacs with dual cores running Mac OS X 10.6.8
  • 2 XServes each with 2 quad cores running Max OS X Server 10.6.8

I use the XServes to run parallel calculations from Mathematica. As the calculations only take about 5 minutes each day and the XServes run hot and loud as well as use a considerable amount of power, I shut them down when I don't need to actually run the calculations (I do run the XServes much more when we do R&D so they do get used).

As my work requires me run the above parallel calculations everyday at a specific time and then personally notify someone about the results -- they don't want an automated message:( -- the process has tied me to my desk. In time I hope to automate the entire process, but probably won't get to that until the fall.

Well its summer and I want to go to a beach for a few days.

So, I need a solution to:

  • Access this network from a remote location.
  • Start the XServes or wake them from sleep.
  • Log on to the XServes.
  • Access and log on to my main desktop machine to:

    • launch my Mathematica application;
    • launch the remote parallel kernels on the XServes (I can do this from Mathematica);
    • run my Mathematica application; and
  • Shutdown the XServes or put them to sleep.

Ideally, I'd like to this from an iPad, but I have the use of a MacBook Pro if I need it.

We do have an old license for Apple Remote desktop if that would help.

While I could leave the XServes powered up while I go to the beach, I'd then have to run air conditioning and that seems like a waste of money and not particularly good for the environment.

Can I set the XServes to go to sleep if they don't have anything to do? If I do, can I wake them up remotely?

Any suggestions on the best way to do all of this, much appreciated.


A couple of clarifications moved up from comments below.

I typically access the Xservers by physically turning them on, seeing them come up on Finder, then doing a screen share. Maybe I just need to get them to wake-on-LAN or just wake up when I want to access them. Then I wouldn't need to actually access them via ARD or a VPN. If I can wake them up somehow from my desktop I only need to get to the desktop.

Also, the Xserves only serve as parallel processing nodes. My iMac runs Mathematica and my application distributes processing jobs to the computing kernels on the XServes.

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The main thing to tackle is booting up the xServes. Luckily, Intel xServes (which yours should be if they're running 10.6) have Lights-out-Management (LOM) that should support this sort of thing (all Macs support Wake-on-LAN, but that only works on a local network).

Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) has support for this. It looks like you'll need to forward a few ports (looks like 623 for the LOM, and then a bunch for ARD - do a search), unless you have some sort of VPN access to your home network.

The basic method will be, use ARD to power up your xServes, then remotely connect via ARD or a VNC client, build your Mathematica app and run it. Then shut down the xServes.

If you have a Mac with you, all this can be done via ARD, but if you want to do it with an iPad, you'll need your desktop Mac running whenever you want to remotely access it. The process there would be to enable Screen Sharing (in the Sharing panel of System Prefs), forward the appropriate ports, then use an app like Screens to connect to your desktop Mac, run ARD and Mathematica remotely on it, and do the above.

If you don't have your desktop Mac running all the time, you could in theory use Wake-on-LAN to turn it on, then access it with Screens, but that requires some other device to be always on, remotely accessible and capable of sending the WoL packet to the Mac (some routers are capable of this, typically with 3rd party firmware).

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Thx for the advice. I typically access the Xservers by physically turning them on, seeing them come up on Finder, then doing a screen share. Maybe I just need to get them to wake-on-LAN or just wake up when I want to access them. Then I wouldn't need to actually access them via ARD or a VPN. If I can wake them up somehow from my desktop I only need to get to the desktop. –  Jagra Jul 3 '12 at 1:16
    
A clarification, the Xserves only serve as parallel processing nodes. My iMac runs Mathematica and my application distributes processing jobs to the computing kernels on the XServes. –  Jagra Jul 3 '12 at 1:28
    
Do you plan on keeping your iMac on all the time? In that case you can simplify and simply use Screen Sharing + port forwarding for external access to the iMac. A simple WoL program like this can wake the Xserves, and you could shut them down via an ssh script (or ARD) once your processing is done. –  robmathers Jul 3 '12 at 2:13
    
I did plan to leave the iMac running. I'll check out the Screen Sharing + port forwarding to get to the iMac and the WoL program for the XServes. Once I have them up and running I can shut them down with screen share from the iMac. Better if I could get them (Xserves) to go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity, but they don't seem to want to do that yet (I've tried the System Preferences -> EnergySaver settings but they don't seem to work. Maybe the XServes see remote access via screen share as activity and won't fall asleep). In any case this all starts to look possible. Thx again. –  Jagra Jul 3 '12 at 2:27
    
To do WoL, you'll need to enable "Wake for Ethernet Access" in Energy Saver Preferences. You should be able to set the sleep behaviour there too, but I'm not sure how it responds to remote activity on an Xserve. You're probably better off shutting it down remotely (Screen Share works, but you could set up a simple script as well). –  robmathers Jul 3 '12 at 2:34
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