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Networking a classic Mac via serial port -> OS X /unix /Linux -> internet


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#1 jcassara

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 08:32 PM

Faced with the dilemma of how to get files between my little Powerbook Duo 280 and Intel iMac and, better yet, getting her on the Internet, I took to the grand oracle Google for enlightenment.  What I found were solutions requiring hardware and software I didn't have access to.
 
My only tools: a KeySpan USB to Serial adaptor, serial cable, and telecom software on both ends.  That would be fine for the short term, and sending files to and fro via Zmodem sure brought back memories.  But I wanted something a little more elegant.
 
OS X doesn't support AppleShare over AppleTalk on LocalTalk, so that was out.  And what was I to do about internet access?
 
Then it hit me -- I have a UNIX based machine sitting in front of me.  One that surely has a PPP daemon.  I could configure my iMac as modem-less dial-up ISP, and then use FreePPP/OtTCP on the Powerbook to access the 'net.  Furthermore, OS X's FTP server would serve as a much nicer file transfer scenario than ZTerm.
 
So, in a nutshell, I:
  • Mated the Powerbook and iMac using the KeySpan adaptor and serial cable.
  • Used ZTerm (iMac) and Microsoft Works Communications (Powerbook) to transfer over FreePPP and iCab. (Had this Powerbook not had OS 8 which includes a TCP/IP stack, I would have used MacTCP.)
  • Configured TCP/IP with an IP address local to my network (in this case, 192.168.1.245). Used OpenDNS IP addresses for the DNS.
  • Configured FreePPP to use the Serial/Printer port, in lieu of the Powerbook's modem. Left the phone number field empty. Set the baudrate to max (230400).
  • Run the following with root privileges on the iMac:
    • sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1 (tell the Kernel we want to forward IP packets)
    • pppd 230400 tty.KeySerial1 local persist passive maxfail 0 proxyarp 192.168.1.102:192.168.1.245 (all on one line - activate the PPP daemon at 230400, using the KeySpan's #1 serial port, don't use modem control lines, persistent connection, don't dump out if the peer isn't there, ditto, add to ARP table so other networked machines can see it, Ip address of the iMac:Ip address of the Powerbook)
  • Pressed "connect" on FreePPP.
Would you believe it worked right out of the box? I am now cruising the internet, telnetting, FTPing, and other wonderful things on the Powerbook Duo 280, courtesy my own private non-dial-up dial-up ISP. The best part: no docks or additional cables to buy. Sure, it's not as fast as ethernet. But that's an opportunity cost I'm willing to pay for close to zero financial investment. And it's a "universal" solution, in that I can get any platform that supports PPP and TCP/IP online this way. Anyone care to surf the web using Lynx on my Amiga 1000? Cheers! ;D

#2 aftermac

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:34 PM

Pretty slick! Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you don't specify the IP addresses at the end of the pppd command wouldn't you, in theory, be able to use phonenet connectors and use this technique with multiple vintage macs simultaneously? If I understand this correctly "192.168.1.102:192.168.1.245" statement limits you to a 1:1 relationship. However, if this is not specified the iMac (in this case) should obtain the address that you manually entered into the peer (Duo). It's a theory anyway... I could be wrong, but it wouldn't hurt to try.

#3 MacMan

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 10:25 PM

This looks like a bit of a breakthrough. I'll have a play with this at some point and see whether I can get my Mac Plus connected through my G4. It would be great to have a non-ethernet solution for hooking 68K Macs up to my internet connection.

#4 LCGuy

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 11:05 PM

Very cool!!!!! Why did i nor anyone else ever think of that? :embarassed: That is awesome!
"Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like all Hell" - Peter Brock

#5 macgreg

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 11:15 PM

This is very clever and cool - going to have to try this. Cheers! [:)]

#6 jcassara

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 03:33 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you don't specify the IP addresses at the end of the pppd command wouldn't you, in theory, be able to use phonenet connectors and use this technique with multiple vintage macs simultaneously?


I'm not familiar with how Phonenet works, so I don't know. My gut says it wouldn't work because we'd need mutple PPP daemons running, and only one daemon can run on a given serial port at any time -- where the real "1 to 1" relationship begins. But, hey, I almost wrote off my project thinking Apple had crippled pppd in OS X. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! If you try it, do let us know!

#7 JWG Design

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 06:15 PM

Congrats on getting the Duo on the net.  That is a rather clever solution.  Perhaps it isn't as fast as ethernet, but it could still be quite fast.

 

Back when I first got DSL (and before hardware routers were affordable), I ran IPNetRouter on my Quadra 840av to share the DSL between several Macs and a PC.  Most of the computers were on ethernet, but my Powerbook Duo 280c was on LocalTalk.

 

The Quadra must have been able to pump up the serial port speed past what was normal for the Duo, because the Duo could download files via FTP at around 80KB/sec.  That is equal to 640kbps, which is much faster than the typical 130kbps it should have been getting, and pretty close to the 768kbps DSL I had.  For comparison, the Centris 650 Macs that I had in my computer lab in college would get between 80-100KB/sec download rates over ethernet.

 

Any way you look at it, it will be leaps and bounds better than dial-up.  I am not sure what your USB-to-Serial adapter is capable of, but the one I have here at work handles rates up to 230kbps. 

 

From the way I understand it, you are using direct serial communication between the Powerbook and iMac.  That is where the 1-to-1 ratio lies.  If it was doing LocalTalk (MacIP for TCP/IP networking), then you could have approx. 250 computers daisychained to your iMac.  AFAIK, serial communications are limited to 2 devices though.


John aka. Jake, Cakes, Xanathus
JWGDesign.com
68k: Duo 280c, Quadra 840av, Quadra 950, Performa 475, etc.
PPC: Pismo, Sawtooth, Wallstreet, 9600, 9500, etc.

#8 aftermac

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 07:28 PM

Yeah, you guys are probably right... It was a thought anyway. By the way, which serial adapter are you using? The twin adapter? PDA adapter? I'm not sure if it would make a difference or not (other than the cables you would need). I have the PDA serial adapter. I'll have to give this a try when I get a few mins.

#9 jcassara

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:00 AM

By the way, which serial adapter are you using?


I'm using the KeySpan USA-28X. Got it years ago for transferring text files from a Tandy TRS-80 Model 102 to a G4 iMac.

#10 jcassara

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:20 AM

I am not sure what your USB-to-Serial adapter is capable of, but the one I have here at work handles rates up to 230kbps.


According to the manual, the data rate on the USA-28x maxes out at 1Mbit/s. FreePPP's modems configuration panel tops the data rate at 230kbps (which is interesting, as Low End Mac's entry for the Duo claims the limit is 56kbps).

My next goal is to get the Duo into the wireless age with a pair of RS-422 to Bluetooth transceivers. (At $199/unit, maybe not soon...) ;D

#11 Bunsen

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 05:20 PM

If and when the pre-crash threads are recovered, there's a great thread there about potential wireless solutions for Duos.

have you searched? Seeks: Nubus PDS DSP PB170 Newton; TRS-80 III/4; CBM BBC SX-64 CX5M Likes: 8bit luggable palmtop terminal NC tablet audio MIDI analog FM drum synth steam&dieselpunk; 1930-1980 lab/comm/mil Score! NC100 PB190 Q950 IIe-PDS


#12 benjgvps

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 03:57 PM

Posted Image

Would this work for connecting to a pc with a serial connector? How would I go about networking for just file sharing and possibly internet sharing from windoze? Any body know of a canadian website to get the cable? sorry to bombard you guys with questions.
Macs: PowerBook 150 - PowerBook 180c (No HD, or HD cable) - iMac G3 350 512 MB of RAM Xubuntu.
PCs: Homebuilt E7500, Radeon HD 4770, 500 GB HD, 4 GB RAM, Windows 7 Ultimate - Acer Aspire One XP

#13 Moof

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 12:55 PM

I've been trying a similar thing with my PowerBook 2300c Duo with Mac OS 7.6.1. I've got it hooked up to my MacBook Pro 17" with a Keyspan USA-28 serial adaptor. FreePPP says 'Establishing Conncetion' and eventually says 'Link Dead'. Any ideas on this one? I was wondering - what are your FreePPP settings? Modem? Speed? Flow Control? What did you do for a Connection Script? Thanks!

#14 JWG Design

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 08:58 PM

I've only done a direct serial connection with a terminal program like Z-Term or the Communications mode of ClarisWorks. In that situation, you'd need to select Null Modem Cable from the list of modems. If you are using PPP, then you would also have to select Null Modem Cable. The "server" computer would have to have some software running to accept the connection and assign the client an IP address. I'm not sure how that would be done.
John aka. Jake, Cakes, Xanathus
JWGDesign.com
68k: Duo 280c, Quadra 840av, Quadra 950, Performa 475, etc.
PPC: Pismo, Sawtooth, Wallstreet, 9600, 9500, etc.

#15 Forrest

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 01:44 PM

If you have a DuoDock for your 2300c, just connect your Duo to your cable/DSL modem and use iCab to browse the web.

#16 Moof

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 06:44 PM

I was referring to the first post made here since this fellow managed to his working with the same equipment as me. ZTerm and ClarisWorks Communication works but is very very slow so using FreePPP would allow me to use FTP as I can setup an FTP server on OS X and access it using Fetch on the Duo. I followed his instructions but it doesn't actually connect :( pppd on OS X is supposed to provide the IP address and such if it connects.

#17 benjgvps

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 11:51 PM

Sorry to revive a dead post here, but would this be possible to do over two modems connected together?
Macs: PowerBook 150 - PowerBook 180c (No HD, or HD cable) - iMac G3 350 512 MB of RAM Xubuntu.
PCs: Homebuilt E7500, Radeon HD 4770, 500 GB HD, 4 GB RAM, Windows 7 Ultimate - Acer Aspire One XP

#18 porter

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:11 AM

Sorry to revive a dead post here, but would this be possible to do over two modems connected together?


Via the PSTN yes. One is the server and waits for connections, the other is the client who dials and connects.

I would doubt you can just wire two modems back to back and expect them to work, they normally expect ring tone before dialling out.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you don't specify the IP addresses at the end of the pppd command wouldn't you, in theory, be able to use phonenet connectors and use this technique with multiple vintage macs simultaneously?


No, the clue is in the name, PPP stands for Point to Point Protocol.

#19 equant

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:15 AM

I would doubt you can just wire two modems back to back and expect them to work, they normally expect ring tone before dialling out.


There are ways to do it using a battery circuit and some hayes commands that turn off dial-tone detection. I don't have the details, but it's not a dead end.
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#20 benjgvps

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:38 AM

I actully am connecting My iMac G3 to my POwerBoook 180c with a plain phone cable, I just put these commands on both ends: ATX3&C0 then one one I put: ATA and on the other I put: ATD . I do have xubuntu 7.04 on my iMac, I am wondering if I can do the PPPD with the modems. Another thing I am wondering about is directly hooking my modem attached to my PowerBook 180c, and printing to a fax machine. I have the modem installed, and I can fax all documents to a fax machine, is there any way to fax directly?
Macs: PowerBook 150 - PowerBook 180c (No HD, or HD cable) - iMac G3 350 512 MB of RAM Xubuntu.
PCs: Homebuilt E7500, Radeon HD 4770, 500 GB HD, 4 GB RAM, Windows 7 Ultimate - Acer Aspire One XP




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