Networking Software

A network can be used to link computer workstations, as well as other types of computers, allowing them to communicate via electronic mail (e-mail) or to employ file sharing and program linking. The Mac OS incorporates all the necessary software to create a simple network.


AppleTalk is supplied as part the Classic Mac OS, allowing your machine to communicate with others via various network hardware. Of these, Ethernet is the most common and is built into most modern machines, although you’ll need an Ethernet hub to connect more than two devices. Other systems include LocalTalk, operating via the serial ports of older machines in conjunction with a LocalTalk box, EtherTalk, Apple’s implementation of Ethernet, and TokenTalk, Apple’s implementation of a Token Ring network, an older system not supported by modern versions of the Mac OS.

AppleTalk is available in two forms, depending on the version of Mac OS. However, the Open Transport variety is used in all modern systems, replacing the original Classic version. The use of these two systems on machines within a network has no effect on the operation of AppleTalk.

Open Transport (OT)

This kind of AppleTalk works with PowerPC-based machines, as well as models containing a 68030 processor or better. It can use built-in LocalTalk or EtherTalk ports or those provided via a standard network card or network adaptor, as connected via a NuBus slot, PCI slot, PC card slot or a SCSI port. As well as Ethernet, Open Transport also supports ATM or FDDI connections, and accommodates Apple Remote Access (ARA) for dialling-up a network from another location.

The AppleTalk Control Panel

This panel lets you select a built-in port, such as an Ethernet, Modem Port or Printer Port, or a network card as your network connection. It also has a Setup area for other settings. Options can be saved as a Configuration for recall at a later date, which is useful for restoring settings in a hurry.

Under the Edit menu you can set the User Mode to Basic, Advanced or Administration, the last of which can be protected by a password, allowing the network administrator to lock those settings that shouldn’t be modified by other users. The panel appears as shown below:-

However, if you select Edit ➡ Advanced you’ll see this:-

If you click on Options, a window appears, allowing you to set AppleTalk to Active or Inactive. If you don’t actually use a network you should select Inactive, as this can save memory.

If you click on Info or choose File ➡ Get Info this window appears:-

which, in the presence of a network, has values in Addresses. The numbers in This Macintosh, consisting of the machine’s network address followed node address, vary, since they’re normally determined at startup, although in Advanced mode you can select User defined in the main window and enter fixed numbers. Those in doubt should leave well alone.

The Hardware Address is stored in your built-in hardware, Ethernet card or Token Ring card, so doesn’t normally change. The Router Address, however, as used by a router that connects you to a larger network, can vary as the network operates.

Classic AppleTalk

This form of AppleTalk, which isn’t supplied with modern versions of the Mac OS, works on any Mac except a PCI PowerPC-based machine and should only be used in preference to Open Transport where older networking applications have to be employed.

The older Network control panel is used instead of the modern AppleTalk panel to set up the network. It allows you to use AppleTalk via the Printer port or a port on an expansion card, as used for EtherTalk or TokenTalk. The Modem port isn’t available for use with Classic AppleTalk.

Network Software Selector (NSS)

The NSS application lets you switch between Open Transport and Classic AppleTalk, but only in some versions of the Mac OS. However, this can be useful if you need to use network applications that only work with one kind of AppleTalk. Once you’ve made your choice you must restart the Mac.

Using File Sharing

To share files over AppleTalk you must follow these steps:-

On the server computer that provides items to share:-

1. Start File Sharing in the File Sharing control panel

The Start/Stop tab of the panel appears as shown here:-

Simply enter the required information in the three boxes and then click on Start in the File Sharing area, leaving Program Linking initially turned off. After some time, the panel indicates File Sharing on, showing that file sharing has become active, effectively creating an AppleTalk file server.

2. Set up Users & Groups in the File Sharing panel

This part of the File Sharing panel looks like this:-

By clicking on New User or New Group you can create as many users and groups as you like. To allow, for example, the default guest user to read your files, just double-click Guest, select Sharing in the next pop-up and click on the Allow guests to connect to this computer check box.

3. Give other users permission to use a volume

AppleTalk lets other users open volumes that are on a server machine, but only if they have your permission, a volume in this instance being defined as an entire hard disk or just a folder. To share a volume, click on it in the Finder and then select File ➡ Get Info ➡ Sharing. A window similar to this should then appear:-

You must ensure that Share this item and its contents is selected. Having done this, you’ll have the option to pick the users or groups who can use the volume and their Privilege settings. Once you’ve made your choices you’ll be given a chance to save these settings.

On the client computer that uses shared items:-

To open a shared volume you must have the AppleShare file in the Extensions folder inside the System Folder. The Chooser should be opened and the AppleShare selected, as shown below:-

You should then select the required server computer and close the window. Two dialogues may now appear in succession, the first allowing you to set a Name and Password for a registered user (a guest user can bypass this) and a second showing the volume or volumes to be shared. Having clicked OK you’ll see the shared items on the desktop.

You can now use the volume in the same way as your own drive, although the owner of a volume may may have prevented you from saving some files by not selecting Make Changes in Privileges.

Setting up an Intranet

An Intranet lets you convey standard Internet-style information over a local network. This kind of network usually employs Ethernet hardware, sometimes requiring an Ethernet card in an older Mac OS computer or a Network Interface Card (NIC) in an earlier Windows machine.

As always, each computer platform requires its own software. For example, all the Windows machines on a network that work as clients need a client application, such as the Winsock FTP program, which can be configured using the TCP Properties dialogue in the Network panel.

If you want to use a Windows network server you’ll need a suitable server application, such as the original Windows NT Server, which provides a connection to Classic Mac OS machines via PPP and AppleTalk. However a Mac OS server is preferable, ideally using AppleShare IP Server, which supports all the normal Internet protocols, including HTTP, POP3, SMTP, IMAP and FTP. It also accommodates Server Message Block (SMB), which means that the server can be ‘seen’ directly by any machine that’s running a suitable version of Windows. A less extensive network could use the NetPresenz FTP server, with access controlled from the File Sharing control panel.

The TCP/IP control panel of each computer normally has the Connect via menu set to Ethernet and Configure set to Manual. The IP Address is normally 192.0.0.XX, where XX is a number between 1 and 255, which should be chosen to avoid any numbers used by other machines or devices on the network. The Subnet Mask is normally set to

Other Aspects


This form of the Apple Open Collaboration Environment (AOCE) provides extra features, such as Catalogs and the AppleMail application for sending information over networks. It also adds a Mailbox to the desktop that accommodates incoming and outgoing mail. Unfortunately, PowerTalk isn’t supported by later versions of the Mac OS. Worse still, there isn’t really any true replacement.

Dedicated File Servers

Large AppleTalk networks often use a dedicated computer as a file server to provide information to the client workstations. This can’t be used as a workstation and doesn’t have to use the Mac OS. Such systems often use the full version of AppleShare, as opposed to that supplied with the Mac OS.

Apple Remote Access (ARA)

This software, replaced by the Remote Access control panel and other elements in later versions of the Mac OS, gives you access to your main computer (or computer network) from a remote machine that’s connected via a telephone line and modem. As is usual in this sort of arrangement, the main computer is known as a host or server, whilst the remote computer is known as the client.

The modern Remote Access control panel uses Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), the standard dial-up method for connecting a computer via a telephone line. This kind of connection can be used for both AppleTalk and TCP/IP traffic, as long as the server supports AppleTalk Control Protocol (ATCP). However, if the server only supports AppleTalk you must use the Apple Remote Access Protocol (ARAP), as employed by ARA. Unfortunately, ARAP uses software data compression and error correction that often compromises the performance of a modem link.

At the server end, you must use ARA Personal Server software, which employs the old Users & Groups control panel to determine who can connect to the server. Note that ARA doesn’t support addressing of a remote client using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). However, it can work via NuBus or PCI cards that provide multiple serial ports. Other server software may not support ARAP but usually allows a PPP connection, complete with support for DHCP.

©Ray White 2004.