of networking all in one Article!
Why write when you can
This is a very informative
article on networking and connecting Macs. This article
came from Networkable
with permission from Rick VanDerveer (the author),
you can go direct to the source (his page) for more info
on this, as well as other info on Net-Games and their
This Article is an overview to
introduce you to many of the concepts for setting up a
network (with game play as the specific goal). However,
this article should have pretty broad appeal.
This article assumes some
familiarity with computers, and is geared towards
familiarization and understanding enough to get things
working. This article is a great "how to" article. I will
try to write a more basic "what and why" article --
explaining what the technologies are and why it is done
the way it is; so, I consider this excellent article more
a "Networking 102" class, rather than the Authors
original title of Networking 101. <grin>
Welcome to Networking 102!
Like the title says, this is an intro to networking.
Class is now in session. Your grade depends on you
successfully building your own small network. So pick up
your pen and paper, and take good notes. After reading this,
you should be able to fairly easily install a small network,
enough to get a few computers talking to each other.
This page is focused on a physically small network; for
example, a small office, home-office, a dorm room, or a get
together for some network carnage at a friends house. For
the sake of simplicity, none of the networks I describe
below even require a single hand tool! Just a little common
sense. Covered also is basic crossplatform networking.
Contents of this page:
- Chapter 1 - Learn the Lingo
- Chapter 2 - A Simple Serial
- Chapter 3 - Localtalk Networking
- Connecting 2 or more Macintoshes
- Chapter 4 - Ethernet Networking
- 2 computers via a crossover cable
- Several computers via 10baseT
- Several computers via 10base2
- Chapter 5 - Configuring your
- Various Crossplatform networking software
- Configuring IPX on Mac & PC's
- Configuring TCP/IP on Mac & PC's
- Chapter 6 - Testing Your Network
with Simple File Sharing
- Chapter 7 - Frequently Asked
- Other Sources
CHAPTER 1 - LEARN THE
Like any industry or field of study, computer has lots
lingo and jargon to confuse the layperson. This is simply so
that consultants sound like they know what they're talking
about, to confuse the heck out of you, make you feel stupid,
and ultimately charge you more. This is true whether you're
talking to a plumber or a doctor, it's all about money. So,
for some background basics, lets cover some of the basic
terms, shall we?
- 10baseT - 8 strand, Twisted pair, solid-core
wire. Same stuff the phone company uses when connecting
your phone lines (although you might not have seen it as
it's usually inside the walls, not from the phone to the
wall). It's the actual wire that's used to connect the
computers. It uses RJ-45 connectors.
- 10base2 (Sometimes called Thinnet) -
Coaxial wire, looks like (but slightly thinner) what the
cable company uses to connect your TV. It's the actual
wire that's used to connect the computers (just a
different option from 10baseT). It uses BNC-style
connectors. You may also need T-connectors and barrel
connectors when setting up your network.
- Transceiver - Not really anything more than an
adaptor between your Ethernet cable and your computer.
Not all computers need these, as they may already have
the proper connections built-in (either on an Ethernet
card or the logic board).
- Hub - Needed for 10baseT networks. Of course,
campuses and larger buildings will have numerous hubs,
regardless of what type of network it is.
- AUI Port - A type of Ethernet port. Requires
the use of a transceiver. Often the same style connector
as Apple's monitor port, don't confuse them or you're
likely to break one or the other!
- AAUI Port - Apple's version of AUI. It's
simply a smaller connector port.
- RJ-11 - A 4 strand connector. The exact same
style connector used to plug your phone into the wall.
Used in PhoneNet networks.
- RJ-45 - A fatter 8 strand version of the
RJ-11. The connector used on 10baseT wires.
- BNC Connector - The style connector used with
10base2 cabling. Sometimes also seen on high-end
video equipment or monitors.
- "Cat 5" wire - Short for "catagory 5", the
highest standard in the classification for network wiring
(think of it as the quality). "Cat 5" is certified for
running up to speeds of 100Mbps! A vast majority of
networks and computers run at only 10Mbps (even the
fastest PowerMac would require an additional Ethernet
card to go as fast as 100Mbps). Most reputable places
will only sell Cat-5 wiring.
- Terminator - Actually not much more then a
couple resistors (same with a SCSI terminator). In either
case, it's used to prevent network (or SCSI) packets from
bouncing and causing echos on the network by absorbing
the electric pulses. Used on PhoneNet and 10base2
CHAPTER 2 - SIMPLE
Computers can be connected fairly easily via serial ports
for basic connectivity. Using a terminal program you can
exchange files or play just about any game that has modem
support. Typically, these are relatively slow connections,
limited to 57.6 baud connections (PowerMac's and newer PC's
can handle faster connections, but it's still relatively
This would probably be handy if you are getting just two
computer's together over a weekend, and is sufficant for
nearly every networked game. Only two computers can be
connected at a time.
A Serial Connection between 2 Mac's
Cost: Extremely cheap
- Serial Cable - You can snag this from your
ImageWriter or StyleWriter printer, if you have
Plug the serial cable into either the Printer port or
the Modem port of both computers (make sure they are
plugged into the same port on both computers). That's it!
If you plugged it into the modem ports; make sure you use
games that support modem/serial connections. If you plug
it into the Printer port, you can turn on AppleTalk and
play any networked game or even transfer files via Apple
File Sharing (albeit slowly)! Make sure that Appletalk is
turned on on both computers.
A Serial Connection between a Mac and a PC
Cost: Extremely cheap
- A Mac-Modem cable (MiniDin 8 male to DB 25
Male) - Yes, the same kind you use with your
- a PC "null-modem" cable (DB 25 Female to
DB9 or DB25 Female to fit PC Com port) - These are
fairly common and can be picked up at your local Radio
Shack or computer store.
Plug the Mac-Modem cable into the Modem port on the
Mac. Connect one end of the null-modem cable into the
Mac-modem cable, and then the other end of the null-modem
cable into the PC.
- If the computer are not talking to each other, make
sure both computers are set to the exact
same serial port speed. Remember, these are not modems
that can auto-sync!
Exchanging files between Mac & PC:
Gate 1.0.5 (234k) - software for both your Mac
and PC that allows you to easily exchange files without
the need for a messy terminal program.
CHAPTER 3 - LOCALTALK
Connecting 2 or more Macintoshes (via PhoneNet)
- PhoneNet connectors
- Phone cord
- Two PhoneNet Terminators
One PhoneNet connector is needed for each computer (or
Appletalk device). so if you have three computers and a
laserprinter, you'll need four connectors.
Plug a PhoneNet connector into the Printer port
of each computer. This is important as Appletalk will
only talk through the printer port*. Plug the phone cords
into the jack of the PhoneNet connectors so that all the
computers are attached to each other. Do not
complete a ring with your network, when you are finished
the two end computers will have an one empty jack. Take
the terminator that came with the PhoneNet package and
plug it into the remaining two jacks.
* Open Transport now allows you to set Appletalk to
either the printer or modem port (or ethernet port). But
for the sake of convention and simplicity, use the
- Check all connections. Make sure the PhoneNet
connector is plugged into the Printer port and not the
- Make sure the network is properly terminated (using
the terminators that came with PhoneNet package). Failure
to do so will result in slow network performance because
the network packets are ghosting and echoing in the
lines. Remember: every network should have two
- Make sure Appletalk is turned on at each
CHAPTER 4 - ETHERNET
6 for setting up System
7 file sharing between Macintoshes.
Connecting 2 computers via a Crossover Cable
Two computers can be connected directly with a
single patch cable, called a "crossover" cable. A
crossover cable gets its name by crossing the wires, so
that the 'transmit' wire from your computer is going into
the 'recieve' port on the other computer (the hub usually
does this for you). While this is great temporary
solution, you'll probably find it inconvenent for a long
- One Ethernet Crossover Cable
- Ethernet transceivers - Check your computer
first, your computer may have a 10baseT port already
Typically, crossover cables are custom-made, but
unless you wire networks for a living, you are still
better off to buy the cable ($5 to $20, depending on the
length). A crimper would cost you about $50. They are not
impossible to find: sometimes they are listed as a "PC to
PC Cable", MacConnection lists them under "crossover",
and MicroWarehouse has them listed as "RJ45 crossed".
They're all the same thing.
Simply plug the Ethernet crossover cable into the
10baseT port of each computer, and you're ready to roll!
Illustration of a Standard and Crossover
10baseT cabling, sometimes referred to as "twisted
pair", is made up of 8 wires paired together to
form 4 pairs (for example; Red and Red-Striped form
one pair). Ironically, ethernet only uses four of
the eight wires, so you may find some cables with
only four wires.
However, good cables have
all of the wires for shielding and balance (etc.).
For one or two device networks the less cables may
work -- but I prefer the full cables.
Holding both ends of the cable side by side, you
can easily see the difference:
For Standard Ethernet
there is no "crossing over", because the "Hub" does
that for you. But if you don't have a Hub, then a
crossover cable does that for you.
Remember that this is a non-standard way to
connect computers. While there is no concern that this
will damage any equipment, the topology of the network
does normally call for a powered hub. So, while crossover
networking does work, it does have its quarks.
If you are looking for a perminant solution, remember
that a simple 5 port RJ-45 hub begin around $40.
The following courtesy Macintosh
Without a hub, when only one machine is on (say, it is merely booted
up first), an ethernet connection can't be created, and so its
AppleTalk control panel will default to the printer port--easy
enough (no restart necessary) to re-select ethernet out of AppleTalk
once the second machine has powered-up.
However, this becomes much more annoying if a printer is connected
to one of the machines, since the LaserWriter Bridge won't load if
AppleTalk is occupying the printer port, and a restart is required
to make the LW Bridge active. With a hub, once you set both
machines' AppleTalk control panel to ethernet, and install the LW
Bridge on the machine connected to the printer, you needn't monkey
with AppleTalk settings again to share files, or to print from
Finally, there seems to be some flaky behavior (read "crashes")
associated with two Macs physically connected by a crossed RJ-45
cable, when ethernet isn't flowing--a hub alleviates such problems.
Connecting Several Computers via 10baseT
You have two basic options for connecting a
Ethernet network: 10baseT and 10base2. Which should you
use? Look at the FAQ section below
and compare the advantages, disadvantages, and pricing to
Cost: Moderately Expensive
- One Ethernet Hub - Most small hubs come
with 5, 8, 12, or even 24 ports. Buy the size the will
accommodate the number of computers you plan to
connect. Avoid "smart" hubs that offer advanced
features such as switching, etc. as these are
completely unnecessary for small networks.
- Ethernet transceivers - Check your computer
first, your computer may have a 10baseT port already
- Ethernet Cards - Check your computer first,
your computer will likely have Ethernet built-in.
- 10baseT Patch Cables- Comes in a variety of
pre-made lengths, from 8 to 50 feet (with sizes in
If needed, plug the transceiver into the AAUI port of
the Macintosh. Take a 10baseT cable and plug one end into
the transceiver (or directly into the ethernet port, if
you have a card) and plug the other end into your hub.
Repeat these steps for your other computers. Plug in
the hub and turn on the computers. You can test your
network by turning on File Sharing (see Chapter 6: File
A Picture is worth a thousand words. A
simple diagram showing the layout of a typical
10baseT network. Created in ClarisWorks, it shows
the extent of my graphic capabilities. Anyone
volunteer a better illustration? ;-)
Connecting Several Computers via 10base2
- Ethernet transceivers (Possibly. Check your
- Ethernet Cards (Possibly. Check your
- 10base2 Patch Cables
- BNC 'T' Connectors
- Two BNC Terminators
Arrange your computers so that they are in a
relatively close proximity to each other. If needed, plug
the transceiver into the AAUI port of the Macintosh. Take
a 'T' connector and plug it into the end of the
transceiver. Take your 10base2 cables and connect each of
the computers, plugging the cable into the 'T' connector
of each computer. Do not plug the cable directly into
the transceiver or back of the card! It will not
work! The network must be able to sense termination
in order to work. Take your two terminators and plug them
into the ends of the network.
(Two) Picture(s) is worth a (two) thousand
words. A simple diagram showing the layout of a
typical 10base2 network.
CHAPTER 5 - CONFIGURING
Common Protocols and Software used for Crossplatform
Please see the Connections
page for a full explaination of network protocols and
- MacIPX - On small networks, this would be used
primarly for crossplatform gaming. See below for
by Thursby Software
- Software for your Mac, it adds the NetBUI protocol (the
Windows equivalent to Appletalk) to your Mac! You can
perform any PC-related network tasks such as accessing
Connect by Miramar
Systems - Software for your PC, it adds the Appletalk
protocol to your Windows PC, allowing you to do anything
on the network as if it's a Mac; including printing to
Apple printers, access Macintosh servers, and share files
via file sharing.
by COPS, Inc. -
Software for your PC, adds the Appletalk protocol to
Windows or DOS, and allows for the usual Appletalk
- TCP/IP - While not truely native to either
platform, it is flexible enough to allow file exchange
via FTP (simply set up a FTP server on one of the
computers. Netpresenz 4.1 is a simple, fast shareware
server option for the Mac). A handful of crossplatform
games support direct TCP/IP (many more Mac versions or
Mac-only games support TCP/IP because developers
- Serial Connection - Computers can be easily
connected via serial ports (see Chapter
2). You can communicate via any terminal program
(such as ZTerm), but by far the easiest way is with
Gate 1.0.5 (234k), a simple little utility is
graphical transfer program for the sole purpose of
transfering files between Macs and PCs (both the Windows
and Mac program is included in the archive).
MacWeek Online reviewed the major crossplatform
networking software (DAVE, COPStalk, and MacLan Connect) in
article. If your primary concern is gaming, it is
important to note that by adding one of these software
packages to your computer will not magically add that
network option to a game. A game must have built in support
for any particular protocol (for example, just because you
have TCP/IP on your computer doesn't mean you'll have that
option in Marathon).
If your primary concern is gaming, you're pretty much
limited to MacIPX or TCP/IP for networks (not
excluding modeming, and serial connections (covered in
Chapter 2, of course).
Connecting Mac's to PC's
For gaming; there are only a few options you have for
crossplatform gaming. Modem/serial was covered in chapter
2. Other than that, the only two protocols Mac's and
PC's have in common for gaming is TCP/IP and IPX.
CHAPTER 6 - TESTING
Testing Your Network with Simple File Sharing (Macs to
(Anyone have an idea how to easily test Mac to PC
Perhaps the easiest way to test and see if your network
works is by simply using the file sharing that's built into
- On one computer, open the Sharing Setup
control panel, and click the 'Start' button for file
sharing. If you don't have an owner name and Macintosh
name entered, do it now. Close the Sharing Setup window.
You may have to wait a few minutes for sharing to start
- Open the Users & Groups control panel.
Double-click the Guests icon, check "Allow guests
to connect' checkbox. Close the Users & Groups
- Select a folder(s) on your hard drive that you want
to share over the network (click on it once). From the
'File' menu, select 'Sharing...' and click the "Share
this item and it's contents" checkbox.
- On the other computer, and open the Chooser
(from the Apple menu). Click on AppleShare, in the
right-hand box you should see the name of the computer
you just shared. Double-click to open it, click either
"Guest" or enter the name and password you entered in the
Sharing Setup control panel. This will give you access to
the entire computer.
- If everything worked as expected, your done! You can
now easily copy files from one computer to the other! If
not, check all connections, and re-confirm all the above
Remember to turn off File Sharing before playing net
games! It really impacts the computer!
CHAPTER 7 - FREQUENTLY
So far, these are really just questions I
anticipate. It's also the best place to squeeze in more
info that might not make sense anywhere else. If you
really do have a question, email
Which is better? 10baseT or 10base2?
Speed-wise, it doesn't make a bit of difference.
Installation-wise, they both have advantages and
disadvantages. A 10base2 (the coax kind) can be a little
simpler to install, since you are basically stringing the
computers together like Christmas tree lights. You also
don't need to buy a hub. However, if you have one bad
connection or cable, the entire network goes down (just
like christmas tree lights!). period. Troubleshooting is
a pain as you add more and more computers together.
Coaxial wire is expensive by the foot.
10baseT (the phone cable kind), while it may not look
like it, is easier to work with. Most people prefer
10baseT. Cable is cheaper by the foot. Connectors are
easier to make. One bad connection doesn't bring the
entire network down (just one computer is affected),
making it easy to troubleshoot.
Price-wise, 10base2 is probably a little cheaper for
small networks. But the stability of 10baseT usually
offsets that for most people.
Is it possible to connect both a 10baseT and a 10base2
They both are, afterall, talking the same protocol.
Just the wire is different. Many 10baseT Ethernet hubs
will have a BNC connector that is used for that very
purpose (notice: most smaller 5 port hubs do not). The
intent, of course, is to connect several 10baseT hubs,
but a string of 10base2-connected computers will work
just fine as well.
Remember, the topology for the 10base2 does not
change! You still need two terminators on the 10base2
wire. Just pretend the hub is a computer node on the
Okay, so I installed an Ethernet network. How do I get
my AppleTalk-compatible printer on the network?
Buy one of the many available
Ethernet-to-Localtalk bridges. They normally support one
or two devices, and cost less then $150. We have several
brands installed around the building where I work, and
they all work great! No slowdowns, no hassles!
Gee, I just spent $150 on that Ethernet-to-Localtalk
thingy you sold me on (see above question), and my
ImageWriter/StyleWriter/LaserWriter-LS printer won't
You dummy! A
ImageWriter/StyleWriter/LaserWriter-LS is not an
AppleTalk printer, it's a serial printer!
Examples of Appletalk printers are Apple LaserWriters,
HP LaserJets (Mac-compatible), and HP Deskwriters.
Can I share my modem over the network?
There are a couple different types of
software-only solutions. Each fulfilling a slightly
Software - Software that allows you to share
virtually any serial device (modems, labelmakers,
ImageWriters) over the network as if it was connected
directly. Only one computer can use the device at a
time. (a time-limited demo is available)
Technology - a software package that allows two
computers to share a modem simultainously for web
surfing. (Before you ask; no, this would not work for
gaming! Games generate too much traffic).
A hardware solution:
There are a couple competing Hardware products that
turns modems into network devices. These are viable
solutions for medium and large sized networks, where
putting a modem on Every desk would be cost prohibative:
Can I play a network game over the modem (such as
Kali) AND include computers on my local network in
A modem is a serial device, not a network device that
can be shared. Games cannot be 'bridged' to include
players from the modem and players from a local network.
Even with special software for modem sharing (see above
question), only one device can control it at a time.
APPENDIX - OTHER
Other Macintosh Networking pages:
Macs & a Printer - A fun site that covers Mac
networking issues, and promises to expand it's coverage
to include setting up and configuring servers, ARA, etc.
and goes into more detail on such things as setting up
System 7 File Sharing.
John's Closet - A step-by-step account of how he
wired his house for Ethernet. John takes his network one
step further by actually running wire in his walls and
using punchdown blocks (a little more in-depth than this
page; I focus on the "no tools" route). He also describes
how he got his ISDN modem to work on the network.
Mac to PC
Connection - Two roommates resolve their differences
("He shoulda bought Mac/PC!") by battling each other in a
game of Close Combat. This page offers another
perspective on how to get the Mac and PC connected via
ethernet to play network games.
ISDN FAQ - A "how to" and FAQ for connecting ISDN
modems. Contains lots of useful info regarding port