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Meerkat use case: iTunes at home, music anywhere

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I thought I'd take a moment to outline a sample use case for Meerkat, one that goes outside the normal scenarios that most people think of when (or if) they think of SSH tunneling. Since Meerkat supports app triggers and Bonjour, it goes above and beyond plain old SSH and can really be used in some innovative ways.

Suppose that you have a large iTunes music collection on your home Mac that you either don't want or can't fit on your work Mac or your laptop because of its size. If you enable iTunes sharing on this home Mac, as well as SSH (under System Preferences -> Sharing -> Remote Login), you can use Meerkat to connect to this music collection from any other Mac running Meerkat and iTunes.

Just setup a tunnel in Meerkat using an account with the IP address, username, and password of your home Mac.

Meerkat-based iTunes sharing thumbnail

Meerkat-based iTunes sharing (click for larger screenshot)

You would pick port 3689, since this is what iTunes uses for music sharing, and an arbitrary port on the local Mac (doesn't matter what). It only takes a few seconds to setup a tunnel like this.

Because of the app trigger, whenever you start iTunes on the Mac running Meerkat, Meerkat will automatically connect to your home Mac securely and, because of Bonjour, your home iTunes collection will show up right in iTunes' source list, just like a Mac on the local network. You just select the collection and stream the music, just like if your home Mac was with you at work or next to your laptop at the coffee shop. It couldn't be easier!

Plus, Meerkat responds automatically to sleep and wake of your Mac as well as network change events such as outages or a change of location. Just set it and forget it!

After Meerkat is released, I hope to maintain a list of scenarios like these. If you have any further ideas, feel free to post them below, and if you're interested in being considered for the upcoming private beta, just leave a comment!

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This looks promising. Is it possible to connect to a remote iTunes library and use it as your primary library, rather than as a shared network library?

In the same way that it's possible to symlink ~/Music/iTunes to an external hard drive, it would be cool to symlink it to a remote machine.

@Zeke: Hmm, I think it may be possible, but not over the iTunes protocol. You could setup a tunnel to access AFP and then have that be brought up and connected to before iTunes launched. But you would need something outside of Meerkat to do the mounting of the AFP share. Once Meerkat has AppleScript support (hopefully before the 1.0 release), you could combine that with a script to do the mount, then start iTunes. It's a bit more of a hack than the above, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility.

I would love to be included in your beta process, this is exactly what I am looking for, to manage all the different ssh tunnel I need to deal with on a day to day basis.

I have a problem with

I have a problem with iTunes.

The problem appears to be with the Bonjour piece. I can tunnel the iTunes service (via 3689) which can be checked by using Telnet. The service however does not show up as advertised via Bonjour. As a workaround I used Network Beacon (Code Sorcery) to expose the Meerkat tunneled service. Worked just fine. It'd be nice to have one solution :-)

I can only get this to work

I can only get this to work when I explicitly use instead of localhost. I am on a MacBook running os x 10.5.4. This is also the case for me when using ssh in the terminal, so it is not a Meerkat problem, though.

Some discussion of this here.

I hope this saves others from some debugging frustrations...

@Tuk: Thanks for this info.

@Tuk: Thanks for this info. I'll try to incorporate it into the help book and the setup wizard, where appropriate.

I've tried this and it

I've tried this and it totally rocks. I've never had a problem connecting to my itunes or my my mac remotely at all. Let me just say I would never try this with Windows remote terminal as it is way too easy to hack. It's nice to be able to access your music remotely from work.