Question: how can one re-create Apple’s defunct ‘Back To My Mac’ service with specific open-source tools or, if necessary, with limited custom (non-commercial) software?
(Ideally, this would be done in a way that would preserve integration with Apple applications such as Finder or Terminal; that might, however, happen automatically as soon as a VPN allowing network discovery is enabled on a particular computer.)
As I understand it, this used a combination of Wide-Area Bonjour, a VPN, and probably some sort of iCloud database/directory to automatically keep all of the Macs signed in under a particular AppleID on a VPN so that they could communicate and use built-in services such as file sharing (AFP/SMB), screen sharing, and SSH through NATs and with dynamic IP addresses. No network configuration was required, once one had signed into a computer with their AppleID and enabling the checkbox for 'Back to My Mac' in Settings.
The other computers appeared in the Finder (and in other applications, such as Terminal) just as they currently do if they were on the same network.
I believe the AppleTV (and possibly other devices) were also used to provide Wake-on-LAN functionality.
Conjecture: It is possible that Apple discontinued this for any number of these (or other) reasons:
- to minimize their engineering / maintenance costs
- to drive iCloud Drive storage revenue
- they had been licensing some of the underlying technology since the beginning, and wanted to avoid those costs
- a key component was found to be covered by someone else's patent, patent(s) they were unwilling or unable to license
It is of note, however, that they disabled the feature for all existing installations of older operating systems, instead of just making it an unsupported / depreciated feature.
Possible starting points:
if either of the last two reasons are true, does anyone know the patent numbers (or patent holders) and technologies that were licensed?
are there any open-source replacements for this functionality (beyond what Apple mentions in the above link)?
what technical references are available documenting Apple's implementation and what is still missing to create an open-source replacement?
do you know of any other online discussions of this topic that can be linked to this question?
Technologies used by some iteration of BTMM:
Dynamic DNS update (RFC 2136) to refresh the DNS resource records (RRs) when a host detects network changes
IPv6 Unique Local Address (ULA; RFC 4193) as the host identifier
NAT Port Mapping Protocol (PMP / NAT-PMP; RFC 6886) to assist NAT traversal
Kerberos (RFC 4120) for end-to-end authentication
IPsec (RFC 4301) to secure data communications between two end hosts
- Understanding Apple's Back to My Mac (BTMM) Service - RFC 6281 (June 2011)
- Take Control of Back To My Mac
- Publishing Network Services - Apple Developer Library Archive
- Authentication and Identification in Depth - Apple Developer Library Archive
- Is it possible to use Back To My Mac DNS or routing information from the command line? - AskDifferent
- Looking for information about the inner workings of Back To My Mac - AskDifferent
- Did You Realize Apple’s “Back To My Mac” MobileMe Service Uses IPv6?
- How does Back To My Mac work without UPnP or NAT-PMP? - AskDifferent
Thank you!! (and thanks to jksoegaard for comments to the previous question)
Note to moderator(s): this is a edited restatement of a previous question, “What technical and/or patent information exists for Apple's discontinued 'Back to My Mac' (BTMM) service, and/or what are possible replacements”, that was recently auto-deleted; if you close this current question in the future, please consider doing so in a way that allows it to remain as a searchable reference for future users.