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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

OS X Networking, Cube Hard Drives, & The Green Hornet
March 9th, 2001

Ah... today's column presented me with quite a few interesting challenges. First we discuss making wireless networking function amongst a variety of strange operating systems, then we talk about dissecting a G4 Cube to put a hard drive inside, and finally we finish up with a quick question about monitor connector technology from my long-lost brother and superhero, The Green Hornet. If you have a question of your own, you can e-mail me, or ask in the comments below. Alternatively, the Ask Dave/Tech Support forums are there for everyone to take a crack at answering your question, so feel free to post it there, too! For now, read on!

Tammy writes, "I'm new to Macs. Just bought a G4 to run Mac OS X. I have run NeXTSTEP and OpenStep since inception. I want to put Mac OS X and OS 9 machines on our network now. I am looking into wireless networking options (we now do ethernet) to connect Linux, NeXTSTEP, Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and Mac OS 9 & X. Do you have any recommendations on wireless hubs? Also, I am on a cable modem at home and would like to setup the same wireless network at home but all the while being able to use the cable modem for net access on all machines at home. Do you have any recommendations for a hub/router that works best with AirPort, can handle dynamic IPs from the cable modem and plays fair with other OS's as well?"

Tammy, you're quite the technophile! NeXTSTEP, eh? Anyway, I would certainly recommend going with the 802.11b-based devices (such as Apple's Airport and ORiNOCO's WaveLAN (formerly Lucent) devices. Support for these are built into all new Macs (like your G4), and there are drivers out there for most operating systems, including Linux (though I'm not too sure about NeXTSTEP). As far as routers go, you have a few choices. For your office, I would think that Apple's Airport Base Station router would be the best choice as long as you don't need to travel HUGE distances (otherwise you will wind up spending thousands on the appropriate stuff and it would be cheaper to just wire with standard Ethernet). Apple's Airport Base Station router is configurable from both Macs and Windows machines (thanks to the shareware application, FreeBase), and is fairly robust in its operation. As for sharing your cable modem at home, I would go the same route and get the Apple Airport Base Station. If you need a hub as well, then I would suggest looking at TechWorks' AirStation line of products. One item of note -- I used one of these a month ago while traveling and there was NO way to get the thing running with only a Mac. It required that we set it up with a Windows machine. Once configured, though, it worked fine with all the computers we needed to use, running multiple operating systems.

"Claropus" writes, "At present, I use a 7500 with two HDDs - I find the notion of 2 internal drives preferable to one, partly for Linux experimentation and partly because if drive zero fails, drive one is usually still there to run recovery, if possible, or just to be able to run the computer. I also find that I use external media rather rarely - mostly just an old MO for preservation and CDs when necessary. So, in looking at the elegant Cube, I am wondering if you have any thoughts on the feasibility of replacing the internal CD/DVD drive with a 2nd HDD, relying on USB or 1394 devices to provide external media support. Perhaps most importantly, can MacOS be booted/installed directly from one of these devices (I have heard that it can). The other consideration, of course, is heat. How much heat does a constantly running HD generate and how does this compare to a DVD, given that the user might possibly choose to watch an entire movie uninterrupted."

Well, Claropus, I haven't spent a whole lot of time trying to rejigger the insides of Apple's Cube, and I don't recommend you do, either. That thing was designed to cram everything inside without a lick of extra space, and while I'm sure you could fit a 3.5" hard drive into the 5.25" bay where the DVD drive currently sits, I can only imagine the problems it would cause. The Cube is cooled via convection methods, and changing the airflow inside the device may render those methods useless. Instead of putting the hard drive inside (and losing all ability to play DVD's since it needs the internal circuitry to do that), why not leave the Cube alone and plug in an external FireWire hard drive? It will serve the same purpose (yes, you can currently boot Mac OS 9 off the external drive), and will save you a lifetime of headache. If you're worried about the noise that the added power supply and fans from an external drive will provide, then get one that's built for laptop/portable users. Many companies (VST comes to mind) have external FireWire drives that are quiet, bus powered (meaning no external power supply), and work quite well.

...and lastly, The Green Hornet writes, "Brother Dave, Is there a way for me to connect my 2000 PowerBook G3 to an Apple 17” studio display?"

I *told* my parents that The Green Hornet was secretly my long-lost brother, but they never believed me. Now I'll show them!

As to your question, bro', I searched and searched the web for anything related to making this work, and all I found was a page by someone who has successfully built such a converter. Apparently no one wanted to buy the rights to manufacture these (they estimate street cost between US$250 and US$450), but alas, the possibility exists. Check out the SVGA/DVI/USB/Power to ADC (Apple Display Connector) Interest Survey and see what I mean. I should mention here that I seem to remember seeing someone on the floor of MACWORLD Expo a few months ago showing off a device that did something like this. I can't find that company ANYwhere, but perhaps one of you knows of it? If so, please mention it in the comments below, and we'll go from there.

That's it for today folks! Feel free to send your questions to me at [email protected], or ask in the comments below. I'll see you in a few weeks!

PS. Have a Nice Day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....

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