Is Dave, Thursby Software’s venerable utility for Windows file and print sharing, necessary now that we have Jaguar? Despite the fact that Jaguar makes it easier to share PC files and connect to Windows machines than OS X 10.1 did, in some circumstances, especially in larger organizations where Mac users need to access files and printers on multiple Windows servers, the answer is a resounding yes.
Thursby’s latest release, Dave 4.0, boasts new features such as Windows NT Domain Login, PC Setup Assistant, and more security options for file and printer sharing. But whether Jaguar can take the place of Dave depends on the size and configuration of your network (see “Putting Jaguar to the test”).
Dave’s included first-time configuration utilities for Macs and now for PCs make it fairly easy to start sharing files and printers across a network. (You’ll need to be running OS 8.6 or later, or OS X 10.1.5 or later, and at least one Windows- or CIFS-compliant server.) On a PC, Dave’s Configuration wizard examines your TCP/IP networking and sharing settings to make sure that they’re configured properly to work with Dave.
The process for Macs hasn’t changed much since version 3.1.1, apart from the addition of security options for sharing. On a Mac, Dave’s Setup Assistant launches immediately after you install the utility and asks you a few questions about that Windows network. It then configures Dave’s features in three separate preference panes: Login, Network, and Sharing.
If the network changes, you can either run Setup Assistant again or make the changes manually. The latter option allows you to indicate active ports and the network’s Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) addresses; if using a laptop, you’ll appreciate the ability to save these settings for different locations. However, had Thursby chosen a less tedious, multi-tabbed approach, similar to that of the OS X Network pane, you could manage all of Dave 4.0’s settings in a single window and save some guesswork as to which setting is configured where.
If you regularly access files on several Windows servers, you’ll quickly grow fond of Dave 4.0’s Windows NT Domain Login feature, which lets you access the shares (shared resources on a server) and printers on all the servers of a Windows network with a single login – unlike Apple’s implementation of Server Message Block (SMB) access. Dave also allows you to change your Windows network password from your Mac – without this feature, you’d have to log in on a PC.
OS X 10.2 nicely incorporated Windows-standard SMB and CIFS for sharing files on the Mac with Windows clients; however, OS X 10.2 requires that users manage a separate set of credentials for each client. With Dave, you can secure shared folders, volumes, or printers, using local-level security, share-level security, or user-level security.Like Dave 3.1.1, version 4.0 lets you drag-&-drop any folders or volumes from the desktop onto a list of shares in the Sharing pane (see “Access granted”), or click on the pane’s Add Share button to share local files.
Cost-conscious businesses that already use OS X 10.2 may have a tough time justifying buying Dave 4.0. But, despite its somewhat tedious configuration method, Dave 4.0 allows Macs in large organizations to access shares via a single sign-on; likewise, Windows users can access Mac files and printers through the same security model. Dave offers great functionality for Macs.
Putting Jaguar to the test
If you’re currently using Mac OS X 10.1, need better Windows interoperability than it offers, and have a limited budget, you may be on the fence about whether to buy Dave 4.0 or the OS X 10.2 upgrade. Apple added a number of networking improvements in 10.2 (Jaguar), which makes it considerably easier to connect to and share files with Windows systems, both servers and desktops.
Let’s look at a simple scenario where you want to access files stored on a Windows server but are not quite sure how to connect to it. Jaguar’s browsing capabilities allow you to traverse the Windows networking domains and mount shared file systems.
Before Jaguar, you needed a third-party tool, such as Gordon Shulkit’s open-source SMB Browser utility or ObjectiveDevelopment’s Sharity, to navigate easily through a hierarchy of domains, servers, and shares – but thanks to the SMB directory-access service plug-in for Jaguar, Windows network browsing is a native feature of OS X. Jaguar provides the ability to browse Windows networking domains; the ability to mount SMB or CIFS shares using Windows networking credentials; and the ability to share portions of a file system with Windows networking users employing local security.
These Windows networking features will serve smaller office environments nicely, but for larger businesses there is life beyond Jaguar. If you need to access files or share printers with Windows counterparts, or want to avoid having to log in separately to each Windows server, we recommend Dave 4.0 instead.