SUMMARY macs+suns

From: Dave Mitchell (
Date: Fri Oct 18 1991 - 19:39:28 CDT

Sorry I took so long to summarise!

My original query was how to connect macs to suns, bearing in mind
I knew nothing whatsoever about macs.

I recieved nearly fifty responses - thanks greatly to everyone,
esp. Ted Hughes who invited me over for the day to show me how
he 'does it'.

Loki Jorgenson <loki@ca.mcgill.physics.nazgul> pointed out the
existance of a "low-key mail list called mac-sun which is composed
of users/managers who have to live with UNiX boxes (not just SUNs) and
Macs of all flavours". I havent got round to trying this yet.
The address is:

Discaimer: my summary is based around my current understanding,
which is still far less than perfect.

If anyone wants a copy of the full set of replies, send a request
to me:

The general conclusion seems to be that there are lots of ways of
doing it!


The main approaches seem to be

a) give every every mac an ether card, then run appletalk over that
   (I think its then called ethertalk - appletalk packets encapsulated
    in ether packets ???)
b) use appletalk hardware, then use a GatorBox or FastPath gateway
   to interface between the appletalk net and ether net.

the advantages of b) are 1) setting up of the mac net is
as easy as can be, because thats what they're designed for,
2) once you've got more than ~10 macs, it becomes more cost effective,
since you only need a single gateway for n macs, as opposed to n ether
cards. The advantages of a) are 1) ether is faster than appletalk,
should you require lots of network bandwidth, 2) if you already
have an extensive ether infastructure in your building (lots of cabling
+ repeaters etc), then its easy to distribute the macs throughout
the building without lots of new cabling.

It also seems possible to have a hybrid - ether cards AND gator box -
then you can use the gatorbox for higher-level protocol conversion
(eg NFS, printing)


To do anything useful with an ether card or gateway, you need
TCP/IP s/w on the mac - MacTCP seems to fit the bill, but it does


there seem to be 3 approaches, depending on where the conversion
between appletalk an NFS packets is performed.

a) Run a package on the MAC. A product called NFSshare comes highly
recommended - it allows an interactive dialogue with an NFS server
whereby the user authenticates herself by giving username/pasword,
is then presented with a list of filesystems exported by that server,
and can select one of them, which then becomes just another
mac file volume (is this the right terminology ???), and behaves
just like you have another hard disk atached to the mac.

b) I'm not very clear about this, but I understand you can obtain
s/w to run on a GatorBox called GatorShare which converts
between NFS and appletalk packets (or should that be appleshare -
i'm still a bit confused!)

c) run a daemon on the sun that makes it in effect an appletalk/share
server. The general consensus seems to be to use CAP, which is
public domain (obtainable from in /src ???). I gather
that this will also allow printing both sun->mac and vice-versa,
but I'm a bit unclear of the details.


Im still completely bemused by this subject !!


There are several telnet packages on the market, however,
NCSA telnet comes highly recommended, and its free, and includes
ftp support -can be obtained from - can go via
appletalk using FastPath - has VT100 emulation - requires MacTCP.


One suggestion was that if you're used to using mail programs
on a unix box under X (eg Mailtool), then run an X-server on a mac
and continue to use it: implies minimum rejigging of mail system.
Having said that, there are several mac mail programs available,

Eudora - PD, anonymous ftp - requires MacTCP ??
- supports SMTP and POP3
TechMail -from MIT - requires macTCP - MIT uses for 100s of macs on
their campus networks.


as I understand it, MacX (from Apple) is a mac X server; there
are also some products about which allow you to use the mac as
an X _client_ - ie you can access the mac from a remote x terminal
should you so desire.

Finally, heres a general list of people's comments,
completely unsorted.

use ethercards rather than LocalTalk,
use Fastpath rather than gaterbox for gateway
macs arent that bad!
for most NFS-type packages, require either an ether card,
or a gatorbox/Fastpaths
direct-ether vs gateway: users can change ip address, bad config
causes broadcast storms, for lots of macs, 1 gateway cheaper than
n ether cards, but e cards will give higher bandwidth.
FastPath better than GatorBox
macs integrate beter into UNIX environment than PCs
We had KA-Share and had significant problems with the software.
It crashed our server on a regular basis -might be caused by
having NOVELL on the same ether - patch avaliable from NOVELL (?)
We've had a fair amount of success with Mt. Xinu's KAShare
KA-share appears to be somewhat buggy - doesnt like AppleTalk
phase II packets.
use IPtalk rather than EtherTalk if possible - ie appletalk packets
encapsulated in UDP/IP rather than direct ether, but this will probably
require using a fastpath (or possibly GatorBox) to do the encapsulation
Stay away from the Mt Xinu KA-Share & K-Spool programs!!!
TOPS w/ Ethernet cards isn't bad.
The recommendations we received from people were almost unanimous that
CAP was the thing to use.
Get the fastest GatorBoxes you can afford, with GatorShare and
GatorPrint software for downloading to those boxes. Put an Ethernet
board into every Mac. Put all the Macs on their own subnet. Use
GatorBoxes as bridges: they translate between NFS and Apple Filing
Protocol, and pass EtherTalk through transparently.
Do not mess with CAP or other free funny Unix software which tries
to handle AppleTalk for filing or printing on the Sun. Commercial
products with their own hardware/software are worth the money in
this context.
 * Get an eternet-card for each Mac.
 * Connect the Macs normlly to you LAN
 * Use MacOS 7.0. Each Mac can share it's file with any other
 * Use MacTCP
 * Install NCSA Telnet for MacTCP - this program also includes an
 * Get MacX (Attention! Only the very latest version of MacX will
   run with MacOS 7.0)
locate the July 1991 issue of BYTE. On page 58, in the "NEWS:
What's New - Connectivity" area is a review entitled "Macs and Suns As Partners

thanks to:

Elizabeth Leight <eleight@com.amd.cayman>
Kevin Sheehan {Consulting Poster Child} <kevins@com.sun.aus>
Chris Perry <cperry@org.mitre.gateway>
(John Noerenberg) jwn2@com.qualcomm (Patrick H Nevins)
Mike Raffety <miker@com.sbcoc>
Stefan Mochnacki <stefan@ca.utoronto.astro.centaur>
Vlastimil Malinek <>
Andrew Luebker <aahvdl@edu.umn.psych.eye>
Brett Ballantyne <brett@com.mmc.den.spiff>
Ed Arnold <era@edu.ucar.scd.niwot>
Margaret Mikulska <mikulska@edu.ucsd.ece>
Haukur Arnthorsson <>
rjt@com.cray.sedist (Randy Thomas) (Geert Jan de Groot)
Loki Jorgenson <loki@ca.mcgill.physics.nazgul>
john@org.mitre.rod (John Marsh)
zjat02@com.amoco.trc (Jon A. Tankersley)
lamour@org.mitre.maestro (Michael Lamoureux)
admin <(system administrator) admin%esrg@edu.ucsb.hub>
laplante@ca.umontreal.iro (Pierre Laplante)
dustin@com.pictel (Dustin Clampitt)
Fereydoun Tavangary 503-627-6717 DS 50-662 <ft@com.tek.labs.sparky>
aldrich@edu.Stanford.sunrise (Jeff Aldrich)
Ken Rossman <>
rr6204 <>
Mike Figueira <>
Bill Kennedy <bill@com.sunworld.east>
Peter J. Welcher <>
Rob Pawsner <rob@com.mentat>
ken@com.visix (Ken Mayer)
Gerald Siek <jerry@de.uni-paderborn>
moise@tesla (Moise Solomon)
mike@ca.uwaterloo.sparky (Michael Scott)
oran@com.amdahl.spg (Oran Davis)
gauexb%almserv@net.UU.uunet (Ed Bujak)
Upkar Singh Kohli <upkar@edu.wayne.eng.wsu-eng>

And sorry to anyone whose options I've misinterpreted/left out etc.

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