Financial viability of sharing a Mac Pro

Just a simple question: based on your experience, do you feel that sharing a more powerful machine can end up any less expensive than providing a single machine each?

We have so many (SOOOO MANY) old computers and the rate of change is such that I’d really LOVE to do it, but only if it works well enough and is stable enough.

We had been doing this for what seems like eons with Citrix and Terminal Server with no problems back in the day, but now that we’re totally converted over to OS X it would be nice to get those same benefits here.

Seems to me that a low-end Mac Pro should have the firepower to handle three or four users, as long as they don’t all try to render videos at the same time . . . thoughts? experience?

You can definitely share a nice beefy machine (like a Mac-Pro) using VNC. It works well enough and performance is fine. I will say that Vine Server isn’t really very nice at setting up and managing the accounts and logins. So it’s not like a full CITRIX server type of environment. BUt it does share the screen fine once you’ve got everyone logged in with VNC running.

thanx – any special considerations?

I’m about due to upgrade, so I’m deciding what to get. Right now we have (at home) an intel iMac and mini plus an old-school clamshell iBook, a Wintel netbook and a Wintel desktop. I’m thinking if I can get most of that going reliably then I might consider using VNC for bigger things, like an office.

My take is that 90% of machines are running 90% idle 90% of the time so you can actually cram quite a few users on a box as long as they don’t all get busy at the same time. When it’s mostly e-mail, WP, browsing it’s all good.

Does VNC handle both audio & video reliably? For example, are we O.K. with iTunes, YouTube, etc…

VNC doesn’t do audio. And video will test your bandwidth pretty well. :wink: Of course, without sound, you may find video to be less interesting anyway.

Audio is NOT part of VNC so you can use iTunes to stream to an AirportExpress or something but only the “console” user can play music out the speakers.

Silly me! Of course. I’m actually much better with bigger machines (i.e., servers and even mainframes) than PCs but I’m [very] trying!

Quite surprising, really though. This is one of the few areas where OSX lags behind Windows, what with Citrix & Terminal Server. I’ve been in quite a few offices that use variations on that theme. I wonder when (if) Apple will truly come around.

I hear the iPhone VNC is pretty effective.