Wiring the Network

Most people connect the Macs (and other computers) in their offices using either of two connection systems: Ethernet or AirPort.

Ethernet Networks

These days, every Mac and every network-ready laser printer has an Ethernet jack on the back or side panel (see Figure 13-1). If you connect all of the Macs and Ethernet printers in your small office to a central Ethernet hub or router—a compact, inexpensive box with jacks for 5, 10, or even more computers and printers—you’ve got yourself a very fast, very reliable network. (Most people wind up hiding the hub in a closet, and running the wiring either along the edges of the room or inside the walls.) You can buy Ethernet cables, plus the hub, at any computer store or, less expensively, from an Internet-based mail-order house. (Hubs aren’t Mac-specific.)


If you want to connect only two Macs—say, your laptop and your desktop machine—you don’t need an Ethernet hub. Instead, you just need an Ethernet crossover cable—about $8 from a computer store or online mail-order supplier. Run it directly between the Ethernet jacks of the two computers. Better yet, if you have a metal-clad PowerBook, a white iBook, or a recent desktop model (like a Power Mac G5), you can use either a crossover cable or a traditional Ethernet cable.

Or don’t use Ethernet at all; just use a FireWire cable (FireWire Networks) or a person-to-person AirPort network.

Ethernet is the best networking system for many offices. It’s fast, easy, and cheap.

Figure 13-1. Every ...

Get Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.