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How to Fix Apple Remote Desktop that was Broken by Apple’s Recent Security Update: Reinstall RemoteDesktopClient 3.9.3 on Client Machines Using SSH

Apple’s recent security update broke Apple Remote Desktop client machines (machines being remotely managed). Installing it on those machines corrupts the setup somehow, making the machine unreachable by the management application.

The problem is particularly egregious when physical access to the machine is not available. For me that would mean a bare minimum of 5 hours with security checks with an escort into a server room accompanied by a representative from my ISP—not exactly the way I would want to spend my day, nor easy to arrange quickly.

Why a security update by Apple would not also install the required RemoteDesktopClient software is best explained by failure to test the update properly—standard practice at Apple these days—witness recent macOS releases and security bugs of the worst kind (exposing passwords). The software testing and release process at Apple has set new lows in quality metrics in the recent 6 months.

Installing RemoteDesktopClient remotely via ssh

It’s actually quite simple once the hours are spent on the internet searching for the solution.

Fix the problem by updating RemoteDesktopClient to version 3.9.3. Lacking physical access to the machine, that means using ssh into the Mac for a remote shell. You did enable ssh didn’t you?

Definition: the “client machine” is the machine being managed remotely by Apple Remote Desktop. Use ssh to get a shell on this machine.

#1 see what software is available. In this case, RemoteDesktopClient must be reinstalled, and version 3.9.3 is what is needed.

# see what software is available
diglloyd $ sudo softwareupdate -l
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2015 Apple Inc.
Finding available software
Software Update found the following new or updated software:
* RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.3
Remote Desktop Client Update (3.9.3), 8587K [recommended]
* iTunesX-12.7.4
iTunes (12.7.4), 272816K [recommended]

#2 Install the update.

diglloyd $ sudo softwareupdate -i RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.3
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2015 Apple Inc.
Downloading Remote Desktop Client Update
Downloaded Remote Desktop Client Update
Installing Remote Desktop Client Update
Done with Remote Desktop Client Update
Done.
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