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DNS is required for remote access
Christopher Brooks, 12 May 2012
Last updated: 12 May 2012

Microsoft's Windows Remote Desktop client can be used to connect to many types of machines running Windows.

To connect from a Mac running Microsoft's Remote Desktop Client, the destination machine must either be in the DNS tables or the IP address of the destination machine must be known.

The way to see this is to run the remote desktop client on the Mac and use a network sniffer such as Wireshark to view the network traffic. Connecting successfully to a Windows client shows traffic to the DNS Server such as:

128.32.171.114 128.32.171.23  DNS 83 Standard query A joule.eecs.berkeley.edu
128.32.171.23  128.32.171.114 DNS 373 Standard query response A 128.32.48.212
Using same client to attempt to connect to a machine that does not have a DNS record shows:
128.32.171.114 128.32.171.23  DNS 88 Standard query A brahms.des.eecs.berkeley.edu
128.32.171.23  128.32.171.114 DNS 138 Standard query respone, No such name
However, it is possible to connect to the machine from another Windows box that is in the domain.

This indicates that to use Windows Remote Desktop client on the Mac then the destination machine must be in the DNS tables.

However, the destination Windows machine does not have to have a fixed IP address, the IP address can be allocated from a pool of DHCP addresses.

So, when adding the machine to the network, be sure to request that the machine be added to the DNS tables so that Windows Remote Desktop works from the Mac.

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