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Software routers are programs that process incoming Internet data, acting as a gateway for the other networked Macs. The router's "host" Mac must connect to both the Internet and the local network, through the modem port (for dial-up connections) or through an Ethernet port (for high-speed connections).
If you're using high-speed Internet, It's sometimes possible to use a single Ethernet port for both network and Internet, but not recommended for security reasons. See the Network Security page for more info.
At right is a typical setup, with the router's host Mac bridging the dial-up or high-speed modem to the Ethernet hub or switch. After plugging things in, you open and configure the router itself (configuration details depend on which router you use, so follow the instructions).
Software Router List
This is a list of known Mac-based software routers. This list may not be comprehensive, so you can also see sites like Download.com for additional options.
Sustainable Softworks' IPNetShareX
Mac OS X includes routing software called Natd, but IPNetShareX provides a graphical interface for better usability. This software (formerly called gNAT) is free.
Sustainable Softworks' IPNetRouter
IPNetRouter provides shared Internet access for any number of computers via DHCP. It works with Mac OS 7.5.3 - 9.
Vicom Tech's SurfDoubler
SurfDoubler is a router suitable for smaller networks, with the basic setup allowing for up to three simultaneous connections. It works with Mac 7.6.1 - 9.
Vicom Tech's Internet Gateway
The larger-scale complement to SurfDoubler, Internet Gateway allows for unlimited network connections and provides a host of other features useful for larger networks. It works with Mac 7.6.1 - 9.
WebGate is a PPP proxy server for connecting multiple Macs through a single PPP (usually dial-up modem) interface. The modem-connected Mac runs the WebGate server software and other networked Macs run client software that sends its requests through the server.
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