This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 1997-03-24 at 12:00 p.m.
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Rhapsody and Networks: Some Questions

by Adam C. Engst

As many of you know from reading my article in TidBITS-370, Apple has announced that Open Transport will enter "maintenance mode" and eventually be replaced in Rhapsody by Unix BSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution) networking code. Open Transport will continue to exist within the "Blue Box," which is the compatibility layer for current Mac OS applications running within Rhapsody.

Response to this announcement from the Internet development community has ranged from confusion to frustration and back to confusion again.

For instance, Amanda Walker, who developed parts of TCP/Connect and InterPPP II for InterCon Systems (now owned by Ascend Communications) said, "I think that not porting Open Transport (which is essentially Mentat Portable Streams - one of the fastest and most flexible Unix networking stacks) to OpenStep (which uses a good, but slower and less flexible 4.3 BSD-based networking stack) is stupid and shortsighted. I will be amused if the classic Mac OS ends up being a better server platform than Rhapsody."


Some Questions -- Other developers voiced similar concerns, but the common theme among them were the numerous questions that came up. Replacing Open Transport with BSD networking (I'll refer to it merely as BSD from now on) is not a trivial decision, and it affects the Mac both at a low level and at a user administration level. Avoiding the truly technical issues, here are a few questions about the future of networking on the Mac whose answers will affect many of us. These questions may not have answers yet; any Mac user who relies heavily on Open Transport should be concerned about the fact that Apple didn't have answers ready when they made the announcement.

Do note that I'm not interested in hearing speculation about the answers - the only people who can answer these questions are the Apple engineers working on the Rhapsody networking transition.

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