AppleShare IP 6.1

Administrators who liked AppleShare IP 5 are going to love AppleShare IP 6.1. The new version sports major improvements such as Windows support, TCP/IP printing, a revamped mail server, and a host of smaller but welcome refinements. While AppleShare IP still lacks some advanced features found in specialized Internet/intranet server products, it proves a well-balanced and useful suite – and a good value to boot. Extended services
AppleShare IP 6.1 runs on PowerPC Macs equipped with 48MB of RAM and Mac OS 8.1 or later. Like version 5, it lets Mac clients access files over either AppleTalk or TCP/IP – a decided advantage over Windows NT Server 4.0, which offers only AppleTalk access for Mac clients. Even better, TCP/IP significantly boosts performance: testing revealed that AppleShare IP 6.1 over TCP/IP is more than twice as fast as Windows NT Server 4.0 over AppleTalk (see ‘AppleShare laps NT’). To fit more seamlessly into mixed networks, AppleShare IP 6.1 also offers Server Message Block (SMB) file sharing. Windows clients can access the server natively over TCP/IP, eliminating the need for special AppleTalk software, and AppleShare IP servers appear in the Network Neighbourhood alongside their Windows NT counterparts. Although this feature isn’t perfect – file names are limited to 31 characters, for example – it’s still reliable, easy to use, and extremely useful. AppleShare IP 6.1 continues to support FTP access to files, using the same security permissions as the standard file server. Other file-sharing improvements include account lockouts due to failed log-in attempts, fixed-term accounts, and the ability to resolve aliases via FTP. AppleShare IP’s Web services are fast; simple; and, with the addition of third-party plug-ins, extensible – perfect for typical Intranet sites. Version 6.1 expands Web capabilities by adding support for W*API plug-ins, keep-alive connections, and custom error pages. The Web engine also shares the file server’s permissions, simplifying basic Web security. But wait, there’s more In addition to expanding AppleShare IP’s file and Web services, Apple has overhauled the mail-server engine. The mail database stores messages only once, even those with multiple recipients, resulting in improved performance and reduced storage requirements. And the server’s new Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) capabilities are impressive: users with an IMAP client such as Microsoft’s Outlook Express can keep their mail on the server; organize it into folders; and even perform fast, full-text searches that use Apple’s V-Twin search technology. The standard POP and SMTP mail services now include simple anti-spam tools, multiple domains, and scheduled dial-up Internet connections. AppleShare IP’s traditionally weak print services have also been improved: version 6.1 supports both TCP/IP-based printers and printing clients. Administrators can restrict queue access to individual users, but access is granted based on the owner name of the machine you print from. The print server also allows basic manipulation of the print queue, printer pooling, and support for up to 30 printers. AppleShare IP 6.1 still has plenty of room for improvement. It lacks advanced file-sharing features, such as a centralized accounts database, log-on scripts, and multiple default FTP directories. Webmasters will miss Secure Sockets Layer support, virtual hosts, and an integrated search engine. And the print server’s inability to support native Windows printing and more-advanced print-queue management is disappointing. Even the installation and administration tools could use work; more-comprehensive setup wizards and a more consolidated administrative console would be welcome.

OUR VERDICT

AppleShare IP 6.1 is a good product made better; its support for SMB, IMAP, and W*API makes it much more versatile and well suited to cross-platform networks. It falls short of perfection, but AppleShare IP is nonetheless an excellent intranet solution for Mac-oriented environments.

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