An Apple Rendezvous with the Outside

By Michael Singer

July 01, 2004

Wireless linking from the company's Rendezvous to other platforms falls right in line with its digital hub plans.

Keeping in line with its so-called "digital hub" vision, Apple Computer issued new software that will let Macs and PCs find each other wirelessly.

The computer maker released a batch of software development kits (SDK) to allow its Rendezvous networking technology to communicate better with other operating systems like Windows 2000 and XP, Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD.

Rendezvous currently lets only Mac users share files over 802.11g networks. Now, Windows and Java developers can add Rendezvous service discovery to their applications, thus allowing them to participate in cross-platform file sharing over a wireless network.

The Windows preview release includes full link-local support that lets the PC discover advertised HTTP and FTP servers using Internet Explorer. The software also includes a printer setup wizard that will let PCs print to other Rendezvous-networked printers, including USB-shared printers connected by Apple's AirPort Extreme and its soon-to-be-released AirPort Express Base Station.

For POSIX platforms, including Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD, Apple is pointing developers to its mDNSResponder project from Darwin CVS to get the new POSIX-compatible mDNS Responder daemon (mdnsd).

"[The daemon] provides the same DNSServiceDiscovery API available on Mac OS X and Windows. Darwin also contains new support for doing Rendezvous service discovery from Java," Apple said on its download site.

Apple has been working fastidiously to network its devices with others. For example, AirPort Express lets Mac and PC users share a single DSL or cable broadband account with up to 10 simultaneous users and a single USB printer with multiple users.

The new Rendezvous technology is expected to be further developed as part of Apple's next-generation operating system (10.4x, code-named Tiger), which the company expects to bring to market in the first half of 2005. The upgrade includes 150 new features on the desktop and 200 new upgrades on the Tiger Server version.

In addition to wireless file sharing, Apple is adding several technologies in Tiger that will help enterprises support and transfer files from Microsoft's Windows NT platform. The improvements include support for SMB performance, SMB home directories and bridging tools to bring NT users to Kerberos.

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