Get Leopard and Windows to play nice

Mac OS X and Windows machines don't get along, right? Wrong. Try our tips for cross-platform happiness on your network.

Configuring a Mac to participate in a Windows network, step 2: In the Advanced Network Options dialog, click the WINS tab and fill in the NetBIOS name and the workgroup name. If a WINS server is used on the network, fill in the address.

Configuring a Mac to participate in a Windows network, step 2: In the Advanced Network Options dialog, click the WINS tab and fill in the NetBIOS name and the workgroup name. If a WINS server is used on the network, fill in the address.

In addition to AFP, Macs come with the ability to access shared files on Windows PCs and servers using SMB (as described above), thanks to Apple's implementation of Samba, an open-source version of SMB for Unix and Linux operating systems.

With the exceptions noted above in terms of specifying a NetBIOS name and workgroup, there is nothing special that needs to be done to enable Macs to access files and folders being shared by Windows. In fact, Macs will typically be able to see Windows PCs and servers out of the box.

If you want to share files on your Mac with Windows computers via SMB, however, there are a few extra steps to take. First, you will need to enable file sharing using the Sharing pane in System Preferences (as simple as checking the File Sharing checkbox in the list of sharing options).

Then you will need to explicitly choose to share those files using SMB by clicking the Options button. You can choose to share files using AFP, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and SMB.

If you choose SMB, you must also specify which users will be allowed to connect to the Mac remotely. This is because AFP and SMB differ in the encryption technologies used to store and transmit user password information over a network.

SMB supports a range of encryption mechanisms, some of which are specific to earlier versions of Windows and are less secure than the mechanisms used with AFP or with Windows XP and Vista. Thus, you must choose to allow each user's password to be stored in the appropriate formats when you enable SMB support.

Note: Leopard also supports sharing files using FTP, a platform-agnostic protocol that can be accessed using any computing platform and an FTP client. However, FTP does not encrypt user password data or files as they are transferred.

Sharing printers

In addition to sharing folders and files with Windows computers, Leopard can provide shared access to printers. The process of enabling printer sharing for Mac users is fairly simple.

Enable printer sharing as a whole by selecting the Printer Sharing checkbox in the Sharing pane of System Preferences. Then open the Print & Fax pane in System Preferences, select the printer that you want to share in the Printers list and select the "Share this printer" checkbox.

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Ryan Faas

Computerworld
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