Archive for the ‘Back to my Mac’ Category

First Leopard Update Arrived – But it does not fix the most annoying bugs

So Apple released the first update to 10.5. Great. Except that it does not fix the following issues:

  • NONE of the Spaces issues are fixedAs outlined in my previous posting. Spaces still does not work with Java applications. It still has problems with modal dialogs. And it still RANDOMIZES the window order when you switch back and forth between spaces .. a complete productivity killer.
  • Back to my Mac is still BROKEN – I still have the same situation: iMac on a public IP address and a MacBook behind a compatible Access Point. It’s still not working though.

This update is extremely disappointing. Lame.


Back to my Mac – Apologies from Apple

I found the following message on the .Mac Support Site.

Attention Back To My Mac users

In the coming weeks, we will be improving compatibility with home-based routers and various network environments. So if you find that you cannot access your remote Mac right away, please be patient as we work to improve the service.

I wish more teams at Apple had the balls to openly confess that they screwed up.

Back to my Mac’s Crazy Network Requirements

I gave Back to my Mac another try here at the airport. I discovered the following log entries in /var/log/system.log after enabling it in the .Mac preferences:

Oct 30 18:37:11 Leo mDNSResponder[16]:
  Adding registration domain
Oct 30 18:37:11 Leo mDNSResponder[16]:
  Setting up AutoTunnel address 1111:...:8888
Oct 30 18:37:14 Leo mDNSResponder[16]:
  Failed to obtain NAT port mapping from router
     external address internal port 4500
Oct 30 18:37:37 Leo mDNSResponder[16]:
  Removing registration domain

What does this tell us? Well, it seems that Back to my Mac requires that BOTH SIDES are either on public IP or behind a router that supports UPnP or Apple’s own NAT-PMP. This so that BtmM can make a port mapping to allow incoming IPsec traffic on port 4500.

This makes no sense to me. There are barely any public hotspots that have UPnP or NAT-PMP functionality. The changes that Back to my Mac will work for road warriors is therefore dramatically reduced.

I really wish Apple had designed Back to my Mac with more real-world scenarios in mind. I understand their reasoning but with a little more effort Back to my Mac can work much better.

Back to my Mac – Still not working

My iMac at home is on a public IP address. The MacBook that I am currently sitting behind is on a public ip address (very rare that hotels offer this btw) and I can still not get a BtmM connection between the two.

I’m just going to give up on this and hope Apple fixes this in a future 10.5.x release.

Another much-hyped feature bites the dust.

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 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.