Longtime Mac users know that Apple practically invented the network. Sure, computer networks existed before the Mac, but the early Macs were the first personal computers that regular human beings could connect to each other. No high priests of IT required. To make this possible, Apple invented a technology called AppleTalk that enabled you to connect Macs to each other over cables so they could communicate, and a technology called Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) that enabled them to exchange files. It was truly revolutionary.
Fast-forward 25 years to today and networking is not so special. Even at home, a network of several computers and a printer or two is not uncommon. The world has caught up to the Mac. Well, mostly. Mac OS X stays a step ahead by connecting to several kinds of networks, not just Apple's own standard. So the Mac can easily fit into all sorts of network situations, while most PCs cannot.
In practice, that means that you can easily set up a Mac-only local network, connect to a Windows network, create a mini-network around your Mac with Bluetooth devices, and — oh, yes — connect to computers of all types that use the ubiquitous Internet Protocol.
This chapter looks at setting up local networks where there is no dedicated server that makes ...