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Hands on: Apple Remote Desktop 3

The latest version of the software is now a universal binary

By Yuval Kossovsky
April 19, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple last week announced Apple Remote Desktop 3 (ARD 3), the latest iteration of its desktop management software. ARD 3 is a Universal application optimized to take advantage of newer Intel-based Macs and makes the administration through ARD available to Mactel machines for the first time since their launch earlier this year. “If you have a network of Macs,” said Eric Zelenka, senior product line manager, “Apple Remote Desktop 3 makes managing that network of Macs as easy as managing one machine.”

ARD 3 takes advantage of improvements in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to enable features such as remote Spotlight searching. Just like Spotlight on a local machine, the search features in ARD have been upgraded to include Spotlight and all its benefits. ARD 3 also includes the Remote Desktop Widget, which allows an administrator to monitor the standard view of machines using a Dashboard widget rather than launching the full application. If the administrator then double-clicks on a machine icon in the widget view, ARD 3 is launched.

The software distribution system in ARD 3 has been significantly enhanced over the last version. In addition to being more efficient in terms of the time needed to complete tasks and perform network copy operations, ARD 3 enables bandwidth throttling and scheduling, two features that any busy network and network manager can appreciate.

The most significant improvement is the addition of the Task Server, which enables scheduled tasks and load to be distributed appropriately. When remote users log into the system, updates are automatically delivered to their machines following the order scheduled by the administrator and using only the allotted bandwidth.

Hands on: Apple Remote Desktop 3

In terms of asset management, ARD 3 offers a useful enhancement. Many applications use what is known as concurrent licensing, which allows an organization to install the application on all its machines but only use an allotted number of licenses at any particular time. Tracking this usage has always been a daunting task for an administrator. That’s especially true when end users ask for an application because they expect it to be available to them, leaving the system manager with no idea if or when the software is actually used.

To help sysadmins more efficiently manage their licensing costs, ARD 3 introduces Application Usage metering and user history reports, where the frequency of application usage and user identity can be tracked, reported and analyzed.

The included Automator actions for common repetitive tasks are a welcome addition to ARD 3, as are the prepopulated Unix commands.

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