Mix LocalTalk & Ethernet
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.
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.
- 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)
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.
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.
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
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.
Part #: M3246Z/A
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.
Part #: 99-00505-01
Supports up to 8 LocalTalk-equipped printers or Macs.
Part #: 99-00270-01
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.
Part #: PN559
Supports up to 8 LocalTalk devices.
Part #: PN553
Shares "serial-only" StyleWriter printers to Ethernet networks. Supports StyleWriter models I, II, 1200, 1500, 2200, 2400 and 2500.
Part #: Several models available; consult the microPrint page for features and part numbers.
Part #: 01-SSC-0333
Supports TCP/IP connections and up to 12 LocalTalk devices. Includes microPrint manager software.
Part #: 01-SSC-1201
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.
Part #: 01-SSC-1202
Supports up to 10 LocalTalk devices. Mac OS 8 compatible.