A network lets computers communicate with each other, share files, send email, and much more. Unix systems have been networked for more than 25 years, and the Mac OS has had networking as an integral part of the system design from day one. In fact, AppleTalk was the first computer network that let computers connect directly together without needing a server in the middle.
This chapter introduces Unix networking: remotely accessing your Mac from other computers and copying files between computers. It also shows you how the Terminal’s “Connect to Server” feature can make common connections a breeze once you’ve set them up the first time.
There may be times when you need to access your Mac, but you can’t get to the desk it’s sitting on. If you’re working on a different computer, you may not have the time or inclination to stop what you’re doing, walk over to your Mac, and log in (laziness may not be the only reason for this: perhaps someone else is using your Mac when you need to get on it, or perhaps your Mac is miles away). Mac OS X’s file sharing (System Preferences → Sharing → Services) lets you access your files, but there may be times you want to use the computer interactively, perhaps to move files around, search for a particular file, or perform a system maintenance task.
If you enable Remote Login (System Preferences → Sharing → Services), as shown in Figure 8-1, you can access your Mac’s Unix shell from any networked computer that can ...