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, 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). was a common default address for many cable/DSL boxes for some time. Readers who have Comcast Xfinity boxes may find that 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’ 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.

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,, 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.


Network Your Classic Mac with Windows – Part 1: Using Dave

Network You Classic Mac with Windows - Part 1: Using Dave

Here at the Happy Macs Lab, we have a unique issue. In the lab, you will find vintage Power Macintosh models, running everything from Mac OS 7.5.3 up through Mac OS 9.1, a maxed out Power Mac G4 Cube running all of Mac OS 9.2.2, Mac OS X Tiger and Mac OS X Leopard, Power Mac G5s running Mac OS X Tiger and Mac OS X Leopard, multiple older PCs running various versions of Linux and even a sampling of older Windows machines, running Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95, Windows 98SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and finally Windows XP. It is quite the “tower of babel” from a computing perspective, and getting all these machines to talk to each other is a real challenge.

Happily, there are multiple solutions that achieve the desired result, and this blog post is the first of a series where we will look at the best of them, one by one. Some of the solutions are point-to-point, connecting just one OS to one other OS (such as Mac OS to Windows), and some are all encompassing, connecting everything to everything.

In this first post of the series, we will look at the first of two “traditional” point-to-point solutions for connecting Mac OS Classic and Windows, Thursby Software’s Dave. In the second post of this series, we will examine the other classic solution to this problem, Connectix’s DoubleTalk.

Dave and DoubleTalk

Throughout this series of networking posts, “Mac OS Classic” is used to imply Mac OS 9.x and lower, and specifically excludes all versions of Mac OS X. Similarly, throughout this series of posts, “Windows” implies Windows NT 4.0 and higher. For the purposes of this series, I used two principal Macs, a Power Macintosh 7500/100, upgraded with a NewerTech 366 MHz G3, and running Mac OS 8.6, and a fairly stock Power Macintosh 7300/200 running Mac OS 9.1. I used a 200 MHz dual CPU Pentium Pro PC running Windows NT 4.0 as the Windows representative in this networking duet.

Windows, Networking and SMB

OK, lets get going. A little background is in order first. Windows communicates with the networked world using the Server Management Block (SMB) protocol, renamed CIFS (Common Internet File System) in later versions of Windows. Pretty much all versions of Windows since Windows NT 3.x have incorporated both an SMB server and an SMB client, meaning that the OS can both read and write other SMB-based machines and can itself be read and written by those same other machines. I have seen, but not yet been able to confirm, that even the creaky Windows for Workgroups 3.11 included an SMB capability.


Since Windows speaks SMB, if a Mac wants to engage in file sharing with a Windows platform, it needs to speak SMB as well. Functionally speaking, this means that it needs to implement an SMB server and /or an SMB client. The two well-regarded third party applications mentioned above, Thursby Software’s Dave and Connectix’s DoubleTalk, do just this.

Thursby’s Dave seems to be the preferred solution in this space, although both garner a recommendation on Apple’s website.

Dave is preferred because it implements both an SMB server and an SMB client, while DoubleTalk only implements and SMB client. Having both an SMB server and an SMB client, a Dave-equipped Mac can seamlessly read and write files to and from a Windows machine and that Windows machine can seamlessly read and write files to and from the Mac.

Networking with Dave

Installing and Configuring Dave

I tested Dave and can attest that this is all true. I loaded Dave onto my Power Macintosh 7500, running Mac OS 8.6, and took it for a spin. The above mentioned 200 MHz Pentium Pro PC, running Windows NT 4.0, acted as its Windows counterpart in this testing.

Now before we go any further, there is a pink elephant in the room that we should all acknowledge. Astonishingly, not only is Thursby still a going commercial concern, Dave is still an active product at Thursby, and they want a staggering $119 for a current license for it! This will no doubt stop many folks from experimenting with it further.

Buy Dave

Of course, the Dave software, and license numbers for it, are available from multiple “abandonware” sites, but none of the licenses I could find this way worked – all were rejected by Dave as “expired”. Thursby has protected their product well. Already having a valid Dave 4.0 license, I was able to proceed, but those of you not in this happy position will need to either pony up a big $119 to Thursby, or make your peace with trolling the web in search of non-expired licenses. I did this yesterday as a test, and successfully unearthed multiple apparently valid licenses. A little bit of persistence may serve you well in this area.

In an effort to save would be users of Dave from having to pay the hefty $119 fee for what is fundamentally an obsolete product, I queried Thursby’s email support, asking if they would be willing to provide a free license, given the lack of remaining commercial trade in Mac OS 9.x and below. The answer back was a firm “no”, followed by an admonition that Dave should not be considered abandonware. The response concluded with a request to know where I had downloaded Dave from! Realizing that this line of inquiry was not likely to result in a free Dave license, I abandoned it and moved on.

I will leave the licensing issue in your capable hands. Moving on, I can report that Dave is an excellent product. It was simple to install and configure, easy to use, and 100% effective at doing what it said it would do.

Installation and setup was a snap.

Dave 4

Dave’s setup runs you through a few simple questions, the most complex of which may be its query for your workgroup name. If you don’t know the answer, just type in “WORKGROUP”, which is what most PCs default it to. Confirm this by visiting the Network control panel of the PC you are trying to connect to, and change the name on the PC side or the Mac side, if need be. Once the installation is done, you will need to restart your Mac and then you are ready to network with your PC friends.

Networking with Dave: Mac to PC

Networking with Dave from a Mac to a PC is quite intuitive, in a very Mac OS Classic sort of way – you go through Chooser, just like you would for the native form of Mac networking. In Chooser, you will now be greeted by a new connection type in the left hand pane, Dave Client.

Chooser w Dave Client

When you click this, there will be a disconcerting pause, during which you will wonder whether Dave is working at all, and then the right hand pane will suddenly populate, hopefully showing you the PCs you want to share files with (and anything else on your network that has an SMB server – in my case, this included two Power Mac G5s and my current main Mac, a 2012 27” iMac).

Chooser Dave Client

Double click the entry for the PC of interest (in this case it was DualPro200 – so named because it is a dual CPU Pentium Pro 200 MHz) and you will get the expected password prompt. Enter the correct user name and password (this is the user name and password from the PC, or just select Guest instead) and Chooser will pop up a dialog showing the “shares” on the selected PC that are available for you to choose from (a “share” is SMB-speak for an available, shared folder).

Dave List of Shares

You may just run into some trouble here – I did. Initially, the share list was blank! There is not a lot of latitude to share files when the list of possible sharing targets is empty! Happily, Dave provides an “Add Share” button below the list, and I took advantage of this to add the shared folders on the PC to the dialog.

This point requires a brief moment of explanation. When you share a folder in Windows NT 4.0, you give it a “Share Name”. This name should show up in the list of available shares that Dave presents you, but in my case, it did not. The share name did show up in the list of available shares when I connected to the PC from either of my Power Mac G5s, but did not from my older Power Macintosh 7300 or 7500 machines. The reason for this will be explained in a postscript at the end of this post.

For now, I was presented with a blank list of shares, but had the potential of adding shares through the Dave “Add Share” dialog. Back at the Pentium Pro PC, I went to Control Panels -> Server, and clicked the Shares button. This presented me with the following list of the available shares:


As you can see there were a LOT of shares there, but most ended with the “$” sign, indicating that they were administrative shares, automatically created by and internal to Windows NT, and not generally advertised for external connection (although they can be connected to if you wish).

I took note of three shares of interest, C$, D$ and DP200SharedFolder, which corresponded to C:\, D:\ and the folder I was actually trying to share, DP200SharedFolder. One by one, using Dave’s Add Share button, I added these to the list, and they worked. When I double clicked any one of them, Dave promptly mounted the appropriate share on the Windows NT machine and at that point, I could drag and drop, read files, create folders, and in general, do all the things I could do with any local file folder.

PC On Desktop

I must apologize for the loss of continuity in the screen shot above. The share name mounted on the desktop is different from what is described – I no longer have the original screen shot.

Setting aside the cause of the blank list of shares for a moment, Dave’s Add Share dialog allowed me to work around a potentially show stopping issue and arrive at networking success, at least in the Macintosh to PC direction. What about the other direction, PC to Macintosh?

Networking with Dave: PC to Mac

This was not such a happy story initially. The Power Macintosh 7500 simply did not show up at all in the Network Neighborhood of the PC, nor could I see it in the Network selection of the two G5s I have on the network (both running 10.4.11 Tiger). Guessing that Dave’s SMB server was not enabled, I went hunting for a Dave Control Panel on the Macintosh. Nope, no such thing. There WAS a NetBIOS control panel with Dave labeling in it, so I hunted around in there, but there were no obvious selections to enable or disable visibility of the SMB Server.

My next stop was the Dave installation in the Macintosh’s Applications folder. There was a single file there, a program named, appropriately enough, Dave. Following this obvious lead, I launched the program, selected Dave Sharing and was greeted with what amounts to a Dave control panel.

DAVE File Sharing 1

Of course I immediately noticed that File Sharing was off, which would imply that the Dave SMB Server was not running. I enabled this and then checked to see if Dave was sharing any folders. The list at the top of the window was empty suggesting that it was not. Using Finder, I dropped my AppleTalk shared folder, “PowerMac7300SharedFolder” into the list. It “took” and thereafter, Dave showed that it was sharing this folder. It did warn me that shares with names over 12 characters long might not share properly, but I ignored that for the moment.

Dave File Sharing 2

Again I must offer my apologies for the discontinuity in the image above – the file share name is slightly different from what I have described – I seem to have misplaced the original screenshot.

Back at the Windows NT machine, success. The Power Macintosh 7500 now showed up in the Network Neighborhood. I double clicked the icon, full of confidence that I had solved the problem, and was greeted with … a blank window. The PC could see the Macintosh, but the Macintosh didn’t appear to be sharing anything. I checked this with both of the G5s, and Tiger pretty much agreed – there was nothing being shared. Tiger’s rather obscure way of indicating this to me was to tell me that it could not open the alias because the original item could not be found. Somewhat of a misleading error indication, but I got the message. Something was still definitely wrong at the Macintosh end.

I went back to the Dave application and removed the current folder I was sharing, suspecting that either you could not share a folder over both AppleTalk and SMB, and/or perhaps the file name really DID have to be 12 characters or less. I created a new folder called “PMAC7500-SMB” (EXACTLY 12 characters) and dropped it into the Dave “Shares” list. I specifically did not share this folder through the usual Mac OS way of doing this – it was only shared via Dave’s SMB server.

This did the trick. The Network Neighborhood window that I got when I doubled clicked the icon for the Power Macintosh 7500 now presented one accessible folder, PMAC7500-SMB. This folder could be opened, read, written to… it was fully accessible. Success! PC to Macintosh networking was now up and running as well.

Networking with Dave – Summary

With both Mac to PC and PC to Mac networking up and running, I can now summarize the recipe for success with Dave:

  • On the Macintosh side, make sure you have a unique share folder for Dave, and make sure that the name of that folder is less than 12 characters. Do not share this folder via the normal Mac OS Sharing mechanism. Share it only via Dave.
  • On the PC side, make sure that you have one or more shared folders, and take note of the “Share As” name you assign to each. Like the Macintosh side, keep the filename of each shared folder to 12 characters or less as well.
  • Still on the PC side, if you CANNOT keep the share names to 12 characters or less (perhaps the machine is not under your control), compensate for this on the Macintosh side. On that side, when you use Chooser to select the PC, if you are greeted with a blank list of available shares, use Dave’s Add Share button to manually add the shares whose names you took note of in the last step. You will only have to do this once. Dave remembers the names.
  • That’s it! Apply the above and you should be happily networking in both directions between a Macintosh running Dave and a PC running Windows NT 4.0.

Closing Thoughts

A final note on Dave. Dave will very considerately interrupt the Macintosh shutdown sequence to warn you if it is hosting any connected users, giving you a chance to warn them before their favorite Mac suddenly disappears from cyberspace. As I said above, Thursby has done a very nice job.

That’s it for this post. In our next post on networking, we will look at doing the same sort of thing using the other classic application in this space, Connectix DoubleTalk. Until then, happy networking with Dave!

The Promised Postscript on The Empty Share List Problem

p.s.> A postscript to this story. As outlined above, the “empty list of shares” problem is easily resolved. Reasoning that since Dave warned that Macintosh share names over 12 characters might not share correctly, I concluded that perhaps share names on the Windows NT side should ALSO be 12 characters or less. I went back to the Windows NT 4.0 machine and checked the length of the share name for the folder I was trying to share. Sure enough, it was MUCH longer than 12 characters. When I shortened it to 12 characters (8 characters actually, in this case), it showed up instantly in the Chooser selections of both Mac OS Classic machines. So, one final word to the wise – all share names should be 12 characters or less.

And as if that is not enough, Windows NT 4.0 gently reminds you that if you want the share to be visible to DOS and Windows 3.x class machines, its’ name needs to be 8 characters or less! Just so you know…. 🙂