Back to my Mac – Not functioning at all
This blog is getting really depressing. Basically every much hyped new Leopard feature I touch has serious flaws. Sometimes it is so flawed that it is simply unusable. This time I’m looking at Back to my Mac. Unfortunately it seems to be completely non functional.
First let me explain what Back to my Mac is from a user point of view: if you own multiple Macs and you have a .Mac account then Back to my Mac allows you to easily find your Macs and connect to the services they run. The software is supposed to work transparently: if you have Back to my Mac enabled then your other Macs simply appear in the Finder’s sidebar under the SHARED heading. From there you can open them to connect to their AFP shares. You can also easily connect to other services they run like Screen Sharing. Because this is based on Bonjour it also works for other services. If you want to ‘SSH Back to my Mac’ you simply open Terminal.app and do a ‘New Remote Connection…’ (Command-Shift-K) and it will list all your Macs that have Back to my Mac enabled.
So for me Back to my Mac is perfect. I am mostly on the road with my MacBook Pro on which I do most of my work and I have a nice fat iMac at home which I use to work on when I want a bigger screen, where I store backups and to connect some external drives. I also run a lot of unixy things on this iMac and I frequently SSH into it to work on things.
The nice thing about my iMac setup is that it is connected directly to the public internet. It has a public ip address and does not sit behind any router equipment that does NAT. Which is horror, since NAT always messes things up.
Full with hope I installed Leopard on this iMac. A clean install, not keeping any of the old settings or accounts. Then I turned on file sharing, Remote Login (SSH) and Screen Sharing. Then I signed in to .Mac and turned on Back to my Mac.
On the MacBook Pro I did the same. Signed in to .Mac with the same account, turned on Back to my Mac. My MacBook Pro was connected to a different network, behind NAT, behind that should really not matter in this setup where the server side (the iMac) is directly reachable.
So I opened a new Finder window. Nothing. Not even a SHARED section in the sidebar. It does not work.
When I look at the iMac from a network point of view I see a device with one network interface that has a public ip address assigned. There is NOTHING special about this setup. Yet, Back to my Mac is not able to find and connect to this Mac.
This is really depressing. Next week I’ll be traveling and I had hoped to just open up a Finder window and see my Mac at home. Login to a share, backup some files, etc. Guess not.
Whoever designed this crap should go back to the drawing board and give it another try. Lame.