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I've tried everything.

Connecting to the pi once the Pi is connected to a WiFi network is easy. Internet sharing is also easy on OS X. I can't figure out how to make a basic static route between the Pi and my MacBook via ethernet/crossover cable (I have both, but they both work with internet sharing seamlessly).

I've tried setting a static IP in the /etc/network/interfaces file ... and in the cmdline.txt file

I've tried making the eth0 connection auto with the setting of dhcp, all while following this guide, but DHCPDISCOVER never ends up working. It's all too confusing, all I want to do is ssh into my Pi after plugging in my ethernet cable, I don't care if it has internet or not.

This post is wonderful, but IT ONLY WORKS ON MY HOME NETWORK. Doesn't work with a public network where I can't control the DHCP server, so it's not an option.

Does anyone have a simple way I can set up a basic connection between OS X and the raspberry pi without the pi having a wireless card and without relying on OS X's internet sharing option?

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Your question is a little vague. If ALL you want to do is connect from OS X to Pi on a network (your own or someone elses) I suggest you install netatalk on the Pi.

This allows you Mac to discover the Pi by name (assuming the network allows peer to peer connections). I have a script which I use on my Mac Replace NNNNNNN by your Pi's name.

#!/bin/bash
# script to start ssh connection to Pi
ssh pi@NNNNNNN.local
PS1='\h:\W \u\$ '

open afp://NNNNNNN.local

Will allow you to access Pi with Finder (or a better File Manager e.g. QuollEyeTree).

Connection is much easier if you also set up public keys.

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