View Full Version : ATTN Mac-heads: Can Macs and PCs live together in sin?
10-31-2003, 07:29 AM
Okay, we need a new notebook, and I've been considering (gasp) getting an iBook with the 802.11g card. Most of the stuff I do on a notebook is pretty basic -- word processing, email, web browsing, DVDs on planes, and basic photo touchup -- so the OS wouldn't really matter.
Getting an iBook would let me catch up with what's been happening on the Mac side (since my mag does have some Mac readers) and review the occasional Mac-to-PDA app that comes up. Plus as a tech geek, it'd just be fun to learn the ins and outs of OS X.
Now, I'm hardly a "switcher." (I left the platform religion behind with the Amiga, thanks.) So this thing would need to coexist with the PCs in my house. So, a few basic questions:
1) Can a Mac read/write to my PC network? (Wi-Fi, running the standard XP networking stuff.)
2) Can an OS X Mac (with the proper printer driver) print to a printer that's being shared using XP's File and Printer sharing?
3) Looks like the one feature I was really worried about losing -- Remote Desktop Connection -- actually has a Mac client! Cool. Anyone ever tried that particular setup? (Mac to XP via RDC?)
The only other real snag is the word processing issue. I'd have to fork out the $150 for a student edition of Mac Office to get Word compatibility, unless OpenOffice on the Mac is decent enough to do the job and performs fast enough on an 800MHz G4.
10-31-2003, 07:38 AM
Denny, I own a PC desktop and a Mac PowerBook. I like the PowerBook, even if it's the old 2000-era black G3 PowerBook. There are moments when I regret not getting a PC laptop (I want to game, or I need to buy two frickin' versions of Office.) But for just simple functionality for emailing, web browsing, and text writing, it's perfect.
1. It's possible to have the Mac share files over a network, but it's not perfect. I do it, but you have to all this crazy "Connect to Server" stuff. And it's not 100-percent. I used my PowerBook's 20GB drive as a backup recently when I reformated my machine, and I'm still having a devil of a time getting the files to transfer back to the PC properly.
2. Printing on a shared PC network printer isn't possible, at least, I haven't been able to do it. And I don't think they fixed this with Panther.
3. Haven't tried Remote Desktop yet.
Doesn't that "Dave" program make Microsoft interoperability better?
10-31-2003, 09:30 AM
I've got a happy little farm of Macs and PCs, so I think I can answer your questions -- although YMMV, as always. For the record, my machines are older G4s and a G3 tower, so yours would probably have better performance than mine.
1) The Mac to PC file sharing is *much* improved in the recent versions of OS X. I don't have Panther, but every version of Jaguar I've used does a pretty good job of sharing files. That said, you do run into funky issues with invisible files being transferred when you send folders, and occasionally it just completely screws up. Reminds me a lot of networking with Windows 3.1, actually. :)
2) I don't think you can share a PC-connected printer via Windows Printer Sharing, but I could be wrong. My solution to this was to buy a network printer (or, for my old printer, a network printer adapter) and print everything over the network. It has worked very well for me. Make sure your printer/adapter supports Macs, though; some apparently are Windows only.
3) The Remote Desktop Client for the Mac works great. I've used it to connect both to Terminal Services on the server at work and also to remotely control my Windows XP Professional machine in the other room. Lots of fun!
I don't think OpenOffice for Mac is ready for prime time, personally (at this point you run it in an X11 window and it's ugly as heck). I eventually choked and bought Office X for my main Mac, but if all you need is Word you might want to look at whether there's any other freeware/shareware out there that can serve your needs.
I don't think you need DAVE to connect to PCs anymore, esp. not on small home networks; OS X does it well enough. In response to the "Connect To" issues above, just make an alias on your desktop and you can save yourself a little trouble. One other thing to keep in mind -- if you're using any NAS devices, make sure they support the Mac.
10-31-2003, 12:54 PM
I have 2 XP machines and a G4 tower at home with Jaguar. I can have the Mac and PC share files as long as I set up some basic samba stuff (I think, I don't really know but it was easy enough for even an idiot like myself to do it). Panther supposedly makes doing this even easier.
As for the printer. I have a Laserjet 1100 from HP. I found CUPS driver for it (sort of) and I was able to get it to work. Doing this was a lot more complicated than file sharing but it did work. I set up the printer using some kind of lp setup for a network printer. It did work but was tough.
Never used the remote desktop but I've read that it works well. Now I personally wouldn't avoid a mac laptop just because of the networking. It should work. Good luck.
10-31-2003, 01:28 PM
Thanks, folks. Some good info there.
And from a little research, it sounds like OS X was supposed to support file-and-printer sharing all along, but it was broken, so you had to use a Unix share under 2000/XP. But apparently Panther (which comes on the G4 iBook) fixes that problem and file-and-printer sharing now works.
Looks now like the biggest challenge will be avoiding giving Microsoft a couple of hundred bucks for a Mac version of Office (since I already own Office XP... And 2000... And 97... and 95...) just to get compatibility with Word and Excel files. Gonna give OpenOffice a shot. Apparently one of the reasons Macheads don't like it is that it doesn't follow Mac conventions. This, obviously, will not bother me.
Is the Unix fully accessible in the iBook? I'm guessing so, since stuff like Gimp has been ported.
Umberto Eco wrote a essay on DOS and MAC's once.
10-31-2003, 04:16 PM
From what I hear, Denny, the iBooks are just hopelessly slow at many common tasks, especially when running the latest OS X. If you're looking at a Mac notebook, you might want to spring for a Powerbook, which I hear from several sources is just way faster and more responsive with everyday tasks.
Apparently one of the reasons Macheads don't like it is that it doesn't follow Mac conventions.
Well, it's not just the look. The current, X11-based port simply isn't that well done. When I tested it on an iBook it felt sloppier and seemed to have a worse performance overall. Usable yes, but there was a notable difference.
10-31-2003, 05:09 PM
I'm no UNIX master, but from what I've seen, UNIX is really well incorporated into OS X.
10-31-2003, 08:49 PM
Jason, this is the new G4 iBook. Much faster than the previous generation.
11-01-2003, 07:28 AM
Denny, I'll have to send you my old framed Apple II poster - and my Apple keychain, and Apple coffee mug, and Apple sweatshirt, and Apple boxer shorts, and...
Thinking back, it's amazing how brand-loyal (read: fanatic) Apple folks have always been. Even back before the Apple/PC wars.
11-01-2003, 07:46 AM
Heh. Thanks, Jeff, but it would just end up in the attic with all my Amiga paraphenalia. :-)
I've run into one application snag: Streets and Trips, which I tend to use when I'm traveling. Not a huge deal, since I can use a PDA mapping app. Doesn't look like there are any currently-maintained street mapping programs for the Mac.
Interestingly, the iBook was a better value than any of the PC notebooks I tried to configure to the same specs -- 4.9 pounds, 3-hour DVD playback on one battery, DVD/CDRW, 60GB drive, 640MB, 802.11g, Bluetooth, spare battery, all for under $1,500. The screen is dinky (12"), but that's an advantage if you're trying to use it on a plane.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.