Apple’s ‘Back to My Mac’ plumbing features interesting mix of protocols

“The underpinnings of Back to My Mac are fairly dense, but interesting, as Apple is mashing up a lot of protocols to punch tunnels through Internet architecture that wasn’t designed to be tunneled through,” Glenn Fleishman reports for Macworld.

MacDailyNews Note: With Mac OS X Leopard’s Back to My Mac, you can connect to any of your Mac computers at home from any Mac on the Internet. Your home computers appear in the Shared section of the sidebar.

“Back to My Mac starts with a .Mac account as the fundamental. The .Mac service becomes the central point for authentication—proving your identity—and for connecting resources located at different locations on the Internet,” Fleishman reports.

This binding puts together lots of pieces, worth picking apart one at a time:
• Bonjour
• Port Mapping
• Wide-Area Bonjour
• Dynamic DNS

Full article here.

14 Comments

  1. Hasn’t worked once for me yet. At home I’m on Virgin Broadband Cable, AirPort Extreme n Base Station. Trying to connect from work through a static IP.

    Nothing. Sure is a pain that I have to go all the way to work without my Mac to test that it doesn’t work.

  2. Worked fine for me. Eventually.

    To set it up, you first have to ‘log off’ and then ‘log back on’, in the Back to My Mac tab in the .Mac Sys Prefs. Do this on both computers.

    Then I tried using it via an airport connection provided by a client’s Mac with ‘Internet Sharing’ turned on. No joy.

    Finally discovered on the support forums that it doesn’t work with Internet Sharing. Next time I was over there, I used a direct Ethernet connection. Suddenly, it worked like a dream.

    Oh, and you have to make sure the host computer at home doesn’t go to sleep.

    Anyway, it’s a bit slow but amazingly useful.

  3. I used to work at a job where I had to use one application that was Windows only. I always just used Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection to connection to connect to my work issued PC from my Powerbook whether I was at home or at work. Speed was never an issue, nor was reliability, or connectivity.

    The Back to My Mac feature sounds great, but I have to decide whether I travel enough to make $100/year for .Mac worthwhile.

  4. .Mac is well worth the price in my opinion. Just the the time-saving synchronization features between various applications, keychains, bookmarks, email accounts, etc. I have easily saved $100 a year in time that would’ve been needed manually re-entering or recovering that data from backups, etc. Not to mention the transparency. Switch from one computer to another and I always have the most current data in front of me. Can’t put a value on that. Back to My Mac is just “VNC for Everyone”. Gotta love that.

  5. Usually, at home I just want get or put a file on my office Mac, not to run processes, so I use either “SSH Tunnel Manager” or “Fugu” (both free) to open a tunnel through the office firewall, mount my office MacBook Pro as a network volume and happily drag and drop files away. It’s reasonably fast. And did I mention free? All I need is a login on a Unix box at work to manage the tunnel. (If my office Mac wasn’t behind so many firewalls and NATed to death, I could go directly to it.) Oh, by the way, just so you know, this method is free as speech or as in beer…

  6. I have been trying feverishly to get “Back to Mac” to work, and cannot for the life of me get it to work. It’s been VERY frustrating – one of the reasons I upgraded to Leopard was for the “Back to my Mac” feature.

  7. Hasn’t worked for me, except between computers that are on the same local network. My network at home and office are all “Apple” (Airport Extreme N) so there shouldn’t be compatibility problems. What’s more, the geniuses at the Apple Store in San Diego couldn’t get it to work either on their own systems.

    You can achieve the same result without Back to My Mac. Enable the remote computer for Screen Sharing, note it’s IP address. (Use DynDns to get a virtual address going). Then, in “Go-Connect to Server” enter: “vnc://remote.computer’s.address” and it works. (replace remote.computer’s.address with the address of your remote computer). I’ve been accessing my work computer this way for about a week with almost no issues, and it’s surprisingly snappy. I’ve accessed from home and via my Verizon cell phone while on the road.

  8. I can find no information on the Apple site on how to set this up. It works at home on the same network but I have not been able to use it remotely. Its a pain that you have to go some where try it and back to the drawing board.

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