Easy Mac Networking

Among NeXT users surveyed at NeXTWORLD Expo, one third reported having Macintoshes networked to their NeXTs. The number is surprising, only because it has been difficult to network Macs and NeXTs. NeXTSTEP 3.0 support for Apple EtherTalk makes Macintosh networking easier but provides only half of the solution: NeXTs can use Apple file servers, but Macintoshes cannot recognize NeXT file servers over the network. UShare, from Information Presentation Technologies (IPT), completes the circle by allowing a NeXT to share files with a Macintosh.

Although 3.0 allows NeXTs to join a Macintosh network, retrieve files, and print to AppleTalk printers, uShare gives Macintosh networkers a reason to buy a NeXT. With IPT's product, Macintosh users can store files on a NeXT, print to a 400-dpi NeXT laser printer or color printer, and enjoy the benefits of electronic mail piped through the NeXT. Since NeXTs have larger hard drives, lower-cost and higher-resolution printers, and faster processors than even top-of-the-line Mac Quadras, there's good reason to use NeXTs as servers for Macintosh networks.

Macintosh network administrators may balk at using a UNIX-based server, especially if they've ever set up Apple's A/UX operating system or TCP/IP-based connectivity software. Such software forces a grisly acquaintance with IP ad-dresses, gateways, host files, and authentication daemons. UShare is vastly simpler: Connect Macs and a NeXT with an Ethernet cable, click on the uShare install package, click a selection in uShare's NeXTSTEP menu, and your NeXT becomes an AppleShare file server.

The only problem I found was that Apple's System 7.0 supports Apple's EtherTalk Phase 2 protocol, which NeXT does not support in NeXTSTEP 2.1 (Phase 2 support is promised in NeXTSTEP 3.0). I had to hunt for an old EtherTalk Phase 1 file to drop into my Mac System folders. Once I had accomplished that, my NeXT showed up in the Macintosh Chooser as a legitimate AppleShare server, and my NeXT printers were accessible from any Macintosh application.

Network performance was equal to anything I've experienced on an Apple-only network, even while I was using the NeXT for other applications. Given the oppor-tunity, I'd urge Macintosh system administrators to scrap a dedicated SE/30 or Quadra and replace it with a NeXT. Mac users would get excellent network performance, a spare workstation, and a NeXT in the bargain. Add a NeXT color printer and the offer becomes one you won't want to refuse.

I reviewed a version of uShare that came complete with file server and print spooler for $645. IPT also sells the uShare file server, print spooler, and mail host as separate modules, for $295, $195, and $195, respectively. I consider the software a good value. Installation is simple, the manual is clear, technical support is responsive, and the product provides genuine utility for users who own NeXTs and Macs. Connectivity software need do nothing more to earn my strong recommendation.

by Daniel Miles Kehoe


4 Cubes

Turns NeXT workstations into Macintosh file servers. UShare installs easily, allowing Macs to store files on the NeXT, print to NeXT printers, and receive e-mail (ASCII only). NeXTs can share Mac-connected PostScript printers. Because it just works, we highly recommend it.

$645 complete package (one user), $1895 (five user), $2795 (unlimited)

$295 file server (one user), $995 (five user), $1395 (unlimited use)

$195 print spooler (one user), $595 (five user), $795 (unlimited use)

$195 e-mail host (one user), $595 (five user), $795 (unlimited use)

Information Presentation Technologies, 555 Chorro St., Ste. A, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.

805/541-3000, 800/233-9993; e-mail: info@iptech.com.