Profiles in Networking
Power Mac 8500
I’ve owned a number of Macs in my day, but my 8500 (the “Tower of Power”) outlasted them all and I replaced it only recently with the latest addition to Apple’s oeuvre, the G4 Cube (yes, my next Mac was a Cube). Purchased brand-new in 1994, the 8500 was a versatile beast, featuring expansion options only outdone by the 9500 and its six PCI slots.
Note: These setups cover any Mac with built-in 10BaseT Ethernet and PCI slots, such as the 7500, 9500, etc. I specify the 8500 because that’s what I used.
From a networking perspective, the 8500 is ready out of the box with built-in AAUI (transceiver) and RJ-45 (twisted-pair) Ethernet ports. Faster network speeds come via PCI cards, but the regular Ethernet’s 10 megabits per second (about 1 megabyte) capacity is a heady improvement over LocalTalk’s 230 kilobits (which the 8500 still supports through its serial ports). Twisted-pair Ethernet (10BaseT) is a snap with the RJ-45 port and you gain thinnet Ethernet (10Base2) by connecting the proper transceiver to the AAUI port. You can’t use both ports at once, though, as it’s the same internal hardware; it’d be like plugging two mice into one ADB port.
The cheapest Ethernet option, a $10 crossover cable will network two Macs together. The 8500 works fine here, connecting readily to other Ethernet-ready Macs. You need the special crossover cable for this, which differs from the straight-through cables you use with an Ethernet hub. Both cables are twisted-pair, but two-Mac networks only work with a crossover cable. Color-case Macs (iMacs, G4s, etc.) have no serial ports and use Ethernet as their default AppleTalk connection. To use a crossover cable with beige Macs, you will need to switch both Macs’ connections to Ethernet simultaneously in the AppleTalk control panel. This may require the help of a friend.
Hub or Switch-Based Ethernet
Connect a straight-through twisted-pair cable to the 8500’s RJ-45 port and you’re set. If you use multiple speeds (10 & 100BaseT) on the same network, make sure to use a switch instead of a hub; otherwise you’ll be limited to the lower speed.
Upgrading Your Ethernet
Add a PCI Fast (100BaseT) or Gigabit (1000BaseT) Ethernet card to step up to something speedier than the built-in regular (10BaseT) Ethernet.
Technically, it may be possible to connect an 8500 to a wireless network, such as AirPort, with a combination of a PCI-to-PC card and a wireless card like Farallon’s SKYLine. The cost being prohibitive, I’ve never tried it, but hey; it might work.
Sharing an Internet Connection
Your 8500 can use software like Sustainable Softworks’ IPNetRouter or Vicom’s SurfDoubler to share a single Internet connection across a network. For high-speed (cable or DSL) connections, you need to add a second Ethernet port, since the high-speed connection uses one port and most high-speed providers will charge more for multiple connections through a hub. Use a 10BaseT PCI card for your second connection, since it can easily handle the typical 200K cable and DSL transfer speed and will be cheap ($10-20). Once you install the hardware, the software handles the rest.
Also in This Series
- Mac to Windows: Troubleshooting the “No Logon Servers Available” File Sharing Error · October 2004
- Using WEP Security on an AirPort Network · July 2004
- Whatever happened to…Threemacs.com? · September 2003
- Clandestine Wireless Networking and MacStumbler · July 2003
- Learning to Share With Others: Sharing Preferences Overview · April 2003
- Serving Files Using FTP in Mac OS X · December 2002
- Switching Between Networks in Mac OS X · November 2002
- The Audio/Video Quadras (660av, 840av) · September 2002
- Thoughts on Apple’s Xserve · July 2002
- Complete Archive