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Network many Macs

Preface

Setting up a network with more than two Macs (or at least one that allows for later expansion) will give you the complete network education in hardware and software construction, as well as make you eminently employable for high wages at a number of high-tech firms. Or something like that.

Your options

LocalTalk qm_icon picture is the "original" flavor of Mac networking, built-in to Macs as far back as the Mac Plus, which was released in 1986. LocalTalk uses a Mac serial port to communicate, usually the printer port (although you can use the modem port instead). LocalTalk is known for being both inexpensive and slow (relative to Ethernet), with a maximum transfer speed of around 20K per second. For more detailed info, see the What is LocalTalk? page.

Ethernet qm_icon picture is the most-used kind of networking today, for both Macs and PCs. Used almost exclusively in the business world for many years, Ethernet is now also found in many home networks. All Power Macs come with at least 10BaseT qm_icon picture Ethernet built-in and many can also use 100BaseT qm_icon picture "out of the box." If your Mac doesn't have Ethernet built-in, there are a plethora of adapters available to get almost any Mac on an Ethernet network. Ethernet is much faster than LocalTalk, with a maximum transfer speed of around 800K per second for 10BaseT and 8MB per second for 100BaseT. For more detailed info, see the What is Ethernet? page.

Note for owners of newer Macs like the iMac or Blue & White G3 Pro

If you have a new Mac, such as the iMac or Blue & White G3 Pro, Ethernet qm_icon picture is your only option, as these Macs do not include serial ports and thus do not support LocalTalk qm_icon picture connections. I would expect future Mac models to follow suit.

Setting up your network

If you want to set up an Ethernet network that has the maximum ability to expand as more computers enter the picture, you'll need to base your network around a hub qm_icon picture. A typical small network hub has from four to eight ports and costs $40-80. A hub-based network uses twisted-pair qm_icon picture Ethernet wiring and RJ-45 qm_icon picture connectors, typically available at computer stores in five- or ten -foot increments. For network setup instructions, check out the Setting up a Hub-based Ethernet Network page.

If you want to set up an LocalTalk network that has the maximum ability to expand as more computers enter the picture, you'll need to base your network around LocalTalk adapters, such as Farallon's PhoneNet and Belkin's QuickNet. These adapters connect to each other in a daisy-chain qm_icon picture fashion and cost about $10-20 each. Adapter-based networks use standard phone cable as wiring and can be easily expanded to accomodate new Macs. For network setup instructions, check out the Setting up a LocalTalk Network page.

Need more info?

Problem still not solved? Questions linger? If so, please send mail and I'll do my best to help out. I try to answer all mail with 24 hours, although it can take longer if the answer requires some research.

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; 1:38:31 PM.]



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