Lion remote wake up (aka VNC sleep fix)

Another bug I found in OS X Lion (is Lion the Windows ME of Apple??) is VNC/remote desktop issues when the screen is asleep.

Here’s the scenario: you have screen sharing set up on your lion machine, you go to work, your screen successfully goes to sleep in the meantime, you try to VNC into your machine and presto get TIMEOUT. Apparently on Lion the wake mechanism wasn’t designed to wake up on any VNC/screen sharing signal, so you’re out of luck here.

However, if you have ssh set up, you can still ssh into your machine, this is where things get interesting. You can use ssh to wake the machine remotely, and then VNC into or share its screen. So, ssh into your mac, and run this command:

sudo pmset -a displaysleep 0

that’ll kick it awake from sleep. NOTE: this command disables sleep on your machine, so either set it manually back to what it was before, or write a small script and put it in the calendar (or as a cron job) that’ll re-enable the sleep mode:

sudo pmset -a displaysleep 5

for example. If you’re trying to remote control your mac from an iPad, to ssh into it you can use vSSH Lite, zaTelnet or the like (all free apps).

If this trick didn’t work, try resetting darkwake (as per this article):

  1. Open a Terminal window.
  2. cd /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration
  3. Edit com.apple.Boot.plist:
    1. sudo nano com.apple.Boot.plist
    2. Move the insertion point down to the <string> associated with the Kernel Flags<key>
    3. Type darkwake=0 (so the whole line should read <string>darkwake=0</string>
    4. Hit ^X (ctrl+x), press Y when it asks to save the file and enter to confirm
  4. Reboot the computer.

Note, you only have to set the darkwake feature once. After that the pmset command should work properly. Hopefully that’ll work for you as well. I’m running 10.7.4 and that trick worked like a charm.

If all else fails, set your screen to never sleep and simply dim it all the way to the min.

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