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Mix LocalTalk & Ethernet

Preface

Until recently, not many home networks used Ethernet because of the expense and hardware involved. Now that Ethernet is more affordable and comes built-in with many Macs, however, the question becomes not whether Ethernet is worth it, but rather how to integrate it with existing LocalTalk networks. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do so, using hardware or software. There are a number of reasons you might need to integrate the two; here are a few.
  • LocalTalk printer that lacks an Ethernet port (there're lots of these)
  • Macs with no available Ethernet adapter (like older Macs)
  • Macs that see only occasional use
  • Temporary additions to the network (a client's laptop, for example)
Historically, adapters that integrated LocalTalk and Ethernet have been very expensive (over $200), but prices have dropped in the last six months, spurred primarily by the release of the iMac and the resulting demand for affordable home Ethernet products.

Choosing a software or hardware bridge

A device or piece of software that connects one network to another, such as a LocalTalk to Ethernet adapter, is known as a bridge. This section talks about the pros and cons of software and hardware bridges and provides a list of available products.

Before you go about combining your LocalTalk and Ethernet networks, you need to decide what kind of bridge you're going to use, software or hardware. Software bridges are less expensive than hardware bridges, but usually take more configuration and require that you have one of the Macs on the network on all the time. Hardware bridges run by themselves, so are much lower maintenance.

Setting up a Software Bridge

A software bridge is a piece of software that you install on a Mac that has access to more than one network, which then allows the Mac to act as a translator between the two networks.

Setting up a Hardware Bridge

A hardware bridge is a device that connects directly to more than one network and translates information passing between them.

The list of available LocalTalk to Ethernet bridges

Apple

LaserWriter Bridge

Type: Software
Part #:
Price: Free
Notes: A control panel that connects a single LocalTalk printer to an Ethernet network. According to Apple, this software only works with printers that support the LaserWriter extension. LaserWriter Bridge is free and downloadable from Apple's FTP servers. Note that LaserWriter Bridge 1.0 functions as a full LocalTalk Bridge for a single device, regardless of type. This earlier version is incompatible with Open Transport, however.

LocalTalk Bridge

Type: Software
Part #: M3246Z/A
Price: $70-80
Notes: LocalTalk Bridge is a control panel that supports up to 32 LocalTalk devices. Check out my page on Network Printer Setup Instructions for more info.

Asante

AsanteTalk

Type: Hardware
Part #: 99-00505-01
Price: $99
Notes: Supports up to 8 LocalTalk-equipped printers or Macs.

Micro AsantePrint

Type: Hardware
Part #: 99-00270-01
Price: $140
Notes: Supports a large number of LocalTalk printers; see the AsantePrint page for a complete list. Includes administration and security software. Connects up to 8 LocalTalk devices.

Farallon

iPrint LT

Type: Hardware
Part #: PN559
Price: $110
Notes: Supports up to 8 LocalTalk devices.

iPrint SL

Type: Hardware
Part #: PN553
Price: $110
Notes: Shares "serial-only" StyleWriter printers to Ethernet networks. Supports StyleWriter models I, II, 1200, 1500, 2200, 2400 and 2500.

Sonic Systems

microPrint

Type: Hardware
Part #: Several models available; consult the microPrint page for features and part numbers.
Price: Varies
Notes:

microBridge

Type: Hardware
Part #: 01-SSC-0333
Price: Varies
Notes: Supports TCP/IP connections and up to 12 LocalTalk devices. Includes microPrint manager software.

PowerBridge

Type: Software
Part #: 01-SSC-1201
Price: $60
Notes: PowerBridge adds support for a single LocalTalk device, making this an economical choice for PowerBook or LocalTalk printer users. Mac OS 8 compatible. Comes bundled with many Sonic Systems Ethernet cards.

SuperBridge

Type: Software
Part #: 01-SSC-1202
Price: $90
Notes: Supports up to 10 LocalTalk devices. Mac OS 8 compatible.

Contents of Three Macs & a Printer are ©1996-1999 Matthew Glidden (except for the bits that aren't).

Questions or feedback? Feel free to send mail.

[This page was last updated on 3/7/99; 1:32:12 PM.]



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