HappyMacs Gopher Site Back on the Air

Progress update from the HappyMacs lab. I am pleased to report that the HappyMacs Gopher site is once more “on the air”. Please visit gopher://happymacs.ddns.net to access a wide ranging library of vintage Macintosh software.

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Networking Your System 6 Mac

At this point in our series of posts about System 6, we have explored why you might be interested in System 6, what sorts of Macintosh units you might want to purchase to support that interest, and what minimum “starter kit” of software you might need to get you started in this new environment. Now it is time to load your System 6 machine up with the software you really need to make productive use out of the system.

There are two “usual” ways of doing this, networking the new machine with other Macs you may have, so that you can simply load new software across the network, and attaching mass storage devices such as an Iomega Zip drive or a CD-ROM and transferring the software in that way. This post explores the first of these two topics, networking your System 6 Macintosh. The last and final post in this series on System 6 will explore second option, adding mass storage.

The word “networking” deserves a little exploration of its own, in order to set the context for this post. There are two major forms of networking that could we could pursue: Apple’s own AppleTalk and the ubiquitous (today) Internet.

AppleTalk is an Apple proprietary set of protocols that allows two or more Macintoshes, along with other compatible devices, to communicate with each other. AppleTalk can run over either a simple serial connection between two or more units (LocalTalk) or it can run over Ethernet (EtherTalk), and thus address any compatible machines on your local home network.

In addition to AppleTalk, most people will want to get their new System 6 machine onto the Internet and the Web, and so this is an objective as well. We take this later objective with a grain of salt however, remembering that while a System 6 machine can make excellent use of many Internet resources, there is very little, if anything, that a System 6 machine can do on the web.

A practical consequence however of wanting both AppleTalk and Internet connectivity is that we will focus on AppleTalk over Ethernet… EtherTalk. Thus, this is the context in which we pursue “networking” in this post.

For the most part, we will need to start from scratch. Out of the box, your new System 6 installation will typically not come with AppleTalk, any form of TCP/IP stack (needed for the Internet) or even any form of Ethernet drivers.

To achieve our objective to AppleTalk over Ethernet, and the ability to access the Internet/web, we need to install both networking hardware and networking software.

Let’s start with the hardware. In order to accomplish networking, your machine needs to have network interface hardware at its disposal. Your machine may come with networking hardware built in, or you may need to install a NuBus network interface card (NIC) of your choice. Apple provided a range of Nubus NIC cards at the time, and similar cards were available from other vendors as well. I recommend the Apple NIC cards of the period to start with, simply because the drivers are largely available as part of the NSI 1.4.5 package.

This is what I did with my Macintosh IIsi. I purchased (on eBay) a Mac IIsi-specific PDS-to-Nubus extender, and an Apple NuBus NIC card. I physically installed this hardware before I began my networking software upgrade, and as a result the drivers for the new NIC went in as a seamless part of the NSI software install.

That’s the hardware – onto the software. You will need to install the following software, in order:

1/ Apple Network Software 1.4.5 (AppleTalk – will run over LocalTalk to start with)

2/ Ethernet drivers for the NIC hardware that is either built into, or you have installed on, your System 6 machine. As mentioned above, remember that drivers for many Apple NIC Cards are included in NSI 1.4.5.

3/ MacTCP 2.0.6, providing you with a System 6 compatible TCP/IP (Internet) stack.

As you approach your networking software installation, your new System 6 machine provides no networking support at all. Both the Network and the TCP/IP control panels are not present, and the Chooser control panel in all likelihood contains only one or more printer selections, and no AppleTalk selection, looking rather like this:

Chooser, No AppleTalk Selection

Like many things Macintosh however, transforming this into what you want is almost painfully easy.

In my case, I used my Power Macintosh 7300 to burn a copy of NSI 1.4.5 (the last version of Network Software to support System 6) onto a floppy. I fed that floppy into my Mac IIsi and it mounted it cleanly on the desktop with no issues. I executed the installer and it ran to completion also with no issues. Following a restart, I had a full AppleTalk client installed AND a shiny new Network control panel, supporting the shifting of my AppleTalk connection between LocalTalk and EtherTalk.

Network Control Panel

So far, so good. If EtherTalk networking was the objective, we would be done at this point.

However, the objective is EtherTalk networking AND Internet connectivity, and so you need to proceed to the final step, which is installing MacTCP. In this case, you will want MacTCP 2.0.6, although an earlier version may work. When I expanded the .sit file for MacTCP 2.0.6, I got just a file called MacTCP. Presuming that this was either an extension or a control panel, I copied it into the System folder and restarted. Success! I now had a MacTCP control panel, supporting both LocalTalk and EtherTalk selections.

MacTCP Control Panel 01 with LocalTalk and EtherTalk

A word of warning at this point. If you are used to more “modern” TCP settings such as you might find in later versions of Mac OS, you may be unpleasantly surprised by MacTCP’s presentation. The Internet was a fairly new thing in System 6’s time, and this is reflected in the sometimes arcane settings that MacTCP 2.0.6 presents to you. It may take some inspired tinkering, and perhaps just a little time, to get MacTCP to configure the things you will want to configure, but rest assured – it can be done.

MacTCP Control Panel 02 Advanced Options

Regrettably, this article is being written after the fact from notes that I made at the time (as I write this, the Happy Macs lab remains in storage as part of our present corporate move) and so I can’t include specific instructions for each MacTCP control. However, I recommend setting your IP address manually (I’ve never had much luck with modern DHCP servers, such as you will almost certainly have in your cable/DSL box, and early versions of Mac OS), setting your subnet mask to 255.255.255.0, and setting both your Gateway address and your Name Server address to the IP address of your local home router (which will typically be your home’s cable modem or DSL box). 192.168.0.1 was a common default address for many cable/DSL boxes for some time. Readers who have Comcast Xfinity boxes may find that 10.0.0.1 works for them.

Anyway, with a bit of tinkering, I successfully bludgeoned MacTCP into configuring the settings I wanted and restarted my Mac. When the boot was finished, I was pleased to see that the Chooser control panel now “saw” the other vintage Macs on the Happy Macs Lab network (specifically those that were turned on and which had AppleTalk networking enabled) indicating that AppleTalk over Ethernet was up and running on my System 6 Mac.

System 6 Chooser w Quadra 840AV Selection

But better still, when I fired up MacTCP Ping, it not only successfully pinged the other Macs visible on the Happy Macs Lab network but ALSO successfully pinged multiple external web sites! My Mac IIsi was on the Internet!

MacTCP Ping

I had to sit back and marvel at this point. An incredible amount of newly installed hardware and software (the NIC card, its’ drivers, MacTCP and MacTCP Ping) had all just working perfectly – and in perfect harmony – the “first time out of the box”, allowing my Mac IIsi to reach outside the limited confines of the Happy Macs Lab and out onto the wild, wild west of the Internet. As I said earlier, the whole thing had been almost painfully easy.

Reflecting on that, being able to ping other servers on the Internet was perhaps quite a technology tour de force, but in the end, it is not terribly useful. So, what did one do with an internet-networked System 6 Mac “back in the day”? Why, one Gophered of course! Gopher, a very capable text-based precursor of the web, was THE way to share information at the time, and has been discussed at length in several earlier posts of this blog. System 6, as you may well guess, had an excellent Gopher client in the form of the third party program TurboGopher 1.0.8b4 (an earlier version of the TurboGopher 2.x series which features prominently in the aforementioned blog posts on Gopher).

I installed TurboGopher 1.0.8b4, fired it up and pointed it at the current “daddy” of Gopherspace, Floodgap Systems’ gopher.floodgap.com server (port 70). TurboGopher got right through and displayed their home page perfectly, if somewhat more slowly than I was accustomed to… which is to be expected I suppose – the Mac IIsi is a 20 MHz 68030 machine, after all.

gopher.floodgap.com

Assuming that you have been following along and installing hardware and software on your machine as you go, from this point on, the internet is an open resource to your System 6 Mac. Remember however that the web is not! I have experimented with some of the very early web browsers that would run under System 6, but have had no (none, zero, nada) usable results. You can network your Macs, you can Ping Internet servers, you can FTP files and you can cruise through Gopherspace… but you cannot surf the web with your networked System 6 Mac.

So there you have it then! Networking your System 6 Mac with Ethernet can be a simple and enabling experience. Best of luck to you in your efforts in this regard!

p.s.> Networking via LocalTalk, on the other hand, has eluded me completely thus far! Just before the Happy Macs Lab was packed up, I was working on networking two System 6 Macs exclusively over LocalTalk, with no MacTCP involved, and was getting absolutely nowhere! I DID manage to connect to an ImageWriter printer I have using just LocalTalk, but that was as far as I could get. I could not get the two Macs to “see” each other over LocalTalk. This may become the topic of additional posts at a future time, once I figure it all out! In the meantime, just a word to the wise. It does not appear to be as simple to LocalTalk two or more Macs as it is to EtherTalk them over MacTCP.

p.p.s> All of the software mentioned in this post is available in the System 6 section of the Happy Macs Gopher server, happymacs.ddns.net, port 70… or rather, will be very soon. Regrettably, as I write this (April 2018), the Happy Macs Gopher server is presently offline due to our corporate move. However, it should be back on the net no later than the end of May 2018. Watch this blog for notification of its renewed presence. Until then, most, if not all, of the above mentioned software can be found on the web with a bit of luck and a lot of inspired Google’ing.

Happy Macs Lab, Gopher Server Are on the Move

The Happy Macs Lab and the Happy Macs Gopher site are on the move! I am moving to a new location for work and am now “between homes”. For the next few months, I am living in temporary housing while our new home is being completed, and that means that both the Happy Macs Lab and the Happy Macs Gopher server are both completely “off the air”.

This is a corporate move and so we did not have to pack anything, but I couldn’t bear the thought of ham-fisted movers disassembling and packing up my precious Macs (please no offense is intended if you happen to be a mover!) and so over the last month or so, I have been doing the job myself. Finally, this past weekend, it was time to load it all into a truck and drive it to our new location. As you can see below, I selected U-Haul for the job.

20180217_171855

On each of the past several weekends, I have loaded up the car and taken down my most precious or most delicate Macs, a carload at a time. This past weekend, EVERYTHING else was loaded into the truck and taken down. You can see that the truck was fairly fully loaded. It is amazing how much Mac related paraphernalia I have when it is put all together in one place.

20180218_120302

So, until our new home is move in ready (expected to be mid April), the Happy Macs Lab and Gopher Site are “off the air”. For those accessing the Gopher site on a regular basis, please accept my apologies, and my assurances that the site will be back on the air again as quickly as I am able to accomplish this.

You may be curious to know whether I set up any vintage Macs at my new temporary housing location. The quick answer is “yes”. Long time readers of this blog may remember that a few years ago, I made a similar move, although across a much larger distance, also for work. As with this time, the Happy Macs lab was also down for an extended duration, in that case 6 months. To retain some connection with the vintage Mac world, I brought two of my then favorite vintage Macs with me to my temporary housing location, my Power Macintosh 7300/200 and my Power Mac G5 Quad. This time around, ALL of my vintage Macs are essentially here with me in my temporary housing, but still in the boxes they were moved in and packed away neatly in an available attic. However, I have kept out a current favorite, my G3 All In One “Molar Mac”, and of course my “daily driver”, my 3.4 GHz iMac (definitely NOT a vintage Mac!). So, I am not completely out of the vintage Mac loop, just mostly.

I will keep everyone updated as things progress, and at any rate will soon be posting the two final articles in the System 6 series I was working on. These are “Networking Your System 6 Mac” and “Using External Mass Storage with Your System 6 Mac”, both of which were “in flight” when I had to tear down the lab. Stay tuned!

Happymacs Gopher Site Current and Planned Outages

A quick note to all the readers of this blog. The HappyMacs Gopher server appears to be down at present. Unfortunately I am traveling on business and will not be able to reset it until NEXT weekend. Regrettably therefore, the HappyMacs Gopher server is “off the air” until then.

Another personal note that will impact availability of the server from time to time. I have just started a new job, and we are relocating as a result. The PowerMac G5 Quad that hosts the HappyMacs Gopher site is of course coming with me (!) but on the day that it is moved, and perhaps for another day or two after, the server will be necessarily down. I will post here on the blog to let you know specifics as the details become clearer.

Our new home has a purpose built computer lab in the basement, giving the HappyMacs Lab it’s first purposely designed home. I am looking forward to getting into our new digs and getting everything set back up and running full tilt. I will publish pictures of the new lab once it is up and running.

Despite the move, I am nearly finished with my next post on networking System 6 Macs, and you can expect to see that published in the next week or two. That post will be followed by the last in the System 6 series, all about adding external mass storage to your System 6 Mac. Stay tuned!

Thanks for your patience with these temporary outages of the HappyMacs Gopher server and I will get it back on the air just as soon as I can.

Using TurboGopher to Access HappyMacs Archive

I mentioned in my last post that perhaps the most “classic” way to access the HappyMacs software archive was to do so from a classic Mac, via the TurboGopher application.

TurboGopher About Screen

I have TurboGopher, which is a FAT binary, running on both my 68K Macs and my PPC Macs, and so it should work for any classic Mac you may have. I have tested it from Mac OS 7.6.1 onwards.

This post is a mini tutorial on how to access the HappyMacs gopherspace from TurboGopher, and how to set the default font in TurboGopher so that the HappyMacs gopherspace renders nicely on your Mac.

Default Font and Size

Let’s start with the default font. Like many gopherspaces, the HappyMacs gopherspace uses some ASCII art to make the site a bit more visually attractive. In order for this art to render properly, it is key that the Gopher client (TurboGopher in this case) uses a fixed width font. I have settled on the Monaco font for no particular reason other than that I like the way it looks, but you can use any fixed width font that appeals to you. However, all the screen shots below feature Monaco.

To set up Monaco as the font to render gopherspaces with, go to the Gopher menu in TurboGopher, as shown below:

1 - TurboGopher Prefs

From the Preferences dialog, drop the Other Preferences list in the middle of the window and select Default Font & Size, as shown below:

2 - Default Font, Size

Now navigate the font and size list to select Monaco 12, as demonstrated below:

3 - Monaco 12

When done, the result should look like this:

4 - Resulting Screen

Accessing HappyMacs Archive

Now that you have the default font and size set properly, accessing the HappyMacs gopherspace is a breeze. Once more go to the Gopher menu in TurboGopher and select Another Gopher, as shown below:

1 - Another Gopher

In the resulting dialog, type in “happymacs.ddns.net”, as demonstrated below:

2 - happymacs.ddns.net

If all is well, you will be greeted with the following display of the HappyMacs gopherspace:

3 - Resulting Screen

That’s it! Note that the image of the classic Macintosh, and the “Welcome to HappyMacs” banner are both examples of the ASCII art I mentioned above.

Bookmarking the HappyMacs Archive

One last thing. All of us live in the modern age, even if we have a certain fascination with vintage Macintoshes and MacOS, and so we are attuned to the idea of web browser bookmarks. Wouldn’t it be nice to bookmark the HappyMacs archive so that you did not have to type in the address every time you wanted to access it? Well happily, TurboGopher lets you do just that, although it is not entirely obvious how to do this until you have walked through it the first time. So… let’s walk through the procedure here.

When you start up TurboGopher, it presents two windows – the Home Gopher window and the Bookmark Worksheet. This later window is the bookmark list that we want to work with. By default it comes preset with a number of what were helpful gopher links back in the late 1990s. These days, they are all dead links, and need to be replaced with more current ones. Let’s add the HappyMacs archive to the list, and then delete all the others.

To do this, follow the procedure above to arrive at the HappyMacs gopherspace site. Next, position your cursor on the window’s top bar and type Opt-c. This copies the gopherspace’s URL to an internal copy/paste buffer. Now, position your cursor on the top bar of the Bookmark Worksheet window, click once and type Opt-v. This pastes your HappyMacs gopherspace URL into the bookmark list. Finally, to get rid of the preloaded and now dead links, position your cursor on each of them, one by one, click once, and type Opt-x. This deletes them, one by one. When done, you should be left with just the HappyMacs gopherspace in your list.

Bookmarking the Floodgap Systems Gopherspace

There is one other site you might wish to add. I think of it as the father of all current gopherspaces – gopher.floodgap.com. I have made it my Home Gopher in TurboGopher. gopher.floodgap.com is the gopherspace of the same Floodgap Systems people who bring you the Overbite plugin for Firefox and act as the general champions of Gopher in today’s world. You can follow a procedure similar to the one for arriving at the HappyMacs gopherspace to get yourself to the Floodgap gopher page and then add it to your bookmarks list. You may also wish to make it your Home Gopher, which you can do by editing the Home Gopher definition, available as the first selection in the Preferences dialog under the Gopher menu of TurboGopher.

4 - Resulting Screen

Editing Gopher Bookmarks

One more “last thing”! Like any good bookmark, you can rename TurboGopher bookmarks to anything you want as opposed to having the actual URL show up in the list. To do this, highlight the bookmark of interest, go to the Gopher menu of TurboGopher and select Edit Gopher Descriptor, as shown below:

1 - Edit Descriptor

In the resulting screen, type in the name of your choice in the Title section of the editing screen, as demonstrated below:

2 - Editing Screen

I did this for both HappyMacs and Floodgap, and here is my current Bookmarks Worksheet:

3 - Resulting Screen

…and that really is it for this TurboGopher tutorial!

Happy Gophering!

 

HappyMacs Gopher Space Progress

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I had started a long term project to create a HappyMacs Gopher space for the purpose of sharing my archive of vintage Mac 68K and PPC applications with the larger vintage Mac community. I am happy to report that I have made substantial progress since then. This post provides a quick rundown on that progress.

Creating Gopherspace

The first issue to solve was that of where to host the new Gopher space. After investigating the big Gopher hosting sites and several of the large web hosting sites (none of which could even spell Gopher! 🙂 ), I ultimately opted to host the new Gopher space directly out of the HappyMacs lab. This was the most economical, certainly the most “fun”, and also allowed me to choose a completely distinctive URL for the site.

Public addressability therefore became the next issue – how to make a server in the HappyMacs lab publicly (but securely) addressable from the outside world. My ISP didn’t help at all – I am a residential customer and they would only provide fixed IP addresses to business accounts (which were prohibitively expensive). Since fixed IPs were clearly not possible, I ultimately settled for a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) solution. In such a solution, a cloud based DDNS service provides you with a fixed URL of your choosing, and then dynamically maps that URL to the ever changing DHCP-based dynamic IP address supplied by your ISP. In my case, I chose NoIP.com as my DDNS provider and selected “happymacs.ddns.net” as my URL.

no-ip_logo

With hosting and public addressability out of the way, I needed a Gopher server to run on the host! There were two major contenders in this field: Gophernicus and Bucktooth. I chose Gophernicus because it is written wholly in C/C++ and is fully POSIX compliant, which the author stated allowed it to be compiled on any *nix platform. Mac OS X is such a platform and so in theory, Gophernicus can be built for Mac OS X. Being adventurous, I tried it! The exercise was not entirely smooth sailing. The present stable distribution of Gophernicus is set up for current versions of Mac OS X, and did not work “out of the box” with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. However, my long experience of building software for Linux provided me with the skills needed to adjust the Makefile until Gophernicus did build properly, and shortly thereafter, I had a working Gophernicus server running on my Tiger-based G5 Quad.

G5

OK, hosting, check. Public addressability. Check. Gopher server, check. Now I needed a gopher space to serve! I knocked together a quick placeholder site and tested it, and all was well. Then I got to work on a little ASCII art and made the site a tad more attractive to look at.

Finally, I addressed the issue of a hit counter. Being not just adventurous but also curious, I wanted to know if this new Gopher space was getting any traffic, and if so, how much. That required at minimum some form of basic hit counter. Gophernicus helped me out here, with its ability to run external scripts. Gophernicus returns to the requesting client the output of any script it runs instead of the line in the gophermap that initiates the script. Hence, a script that implemented a hit counter and “printed” the counter’s value as its output was just what the doctor ordered.

Sounds good … now, how to implement such a script? More poking around revealed the existence of something I have never heard of before – “command line PHP”. I own and maintain multiple web sites, all written in PHP, and so I am very, very familiar with this powerful and (to me at least) intuitive scripting language. However, I have always thought of PHP as a server-side web capability, not a general purpose command line script language. As it happens however, since PHP 4.3, it can indeed be used for this very purpose. Exploiting this, I created the usual “hello world” script and it worked!

A little bit of cutting and pasting later, and I had extracted the PHP hit counter from one of my web sites and made it into a command line script, which I then embedded in my gophermap. Voila! One hit counter up and running!

PHP Hit Counter

…and that is where it stands at this moment. I have acquired a public URL, built a Gopher server, hosted it on my PowerMac G5 Quad, created an initial gophermap and put the whole thing online. You can view the result at:

gopher://happymacs.ddns.net

There is very little meaningful content at the above Gopher space at the moment, but all the critical infrastructure is now in place, and I can start filling out the software archive portions of the site over time. This will happen in fits and starts over the coming weeks. I am going to begin with the Mac OS 68K applications and then move on to the Mac OS PPC applications. Finally, I will add in the Mac OS X PPC applications.

That’s it for now. Good progress in a very short time. I think. Stay tuned – I will update you when the 68K archive comes online!