posted by James Kahan on Tue 30th Mar 2004 19:14 UTC
IconRecently I was in the mood for a new laptop, but have been underwhelmed with the selection of wintel machines available and overwhelmed with the number of security patches for XP. I just needed a small, reliable system that worked.

Making the purchase

Being an ubergeek I have always admired Apple’s physical design, but have avoided Macs in the past due to the operating system. Since I run linux (SuSE 9.0 AMD64) at home I was interested in OSX because of it’s BSD roots. I have tried linux on laptops in the past, but have never been happy with the stability of the hardware support. I know I am going to get flamed for this last line, but when you have 5 minutes to logon to a wifi hotspot to get your mail in between flights you don’t want to have to troubleshoot iwconfig or your VPN.

When it comes to being a geek, I am completely a hardware guy. I want all of the latest toys, but have been disappointed in the past with equipment that does not meet my expectations. Currently my complaints surround Bluetooth hardware and support in Windows. I have a Sony T616, a PALM T3 and a Logitech Bluetooth headset that I really wanted to be able to use with my system, but have always had difficulty with my company issued wintel laptop (a Sony SRX99P).

My other requirement was size. While it is nice to have a 15” display and a full-sized keyboard, I did not want to have to carry a bulky machine in my travels.

Being a design nut I have always been magnetically drawn to the Apple store in the local mall. It was nice to be able to walk in and actually allow the salesperson help me make a decision, as the staff in this store are always eager to educate the uninitiated on the Apple product line.

Because of my size requirements I was specifically interested in the new 12” aluminum Powerbook. A beautiful specimen of industrial design. After allowing the salesperson to do his thing, I inquired about Bluetooth device support. The new Powerbooks already have the transceiver installed, but did it work? He promptly picked up a PALM T3 and demonstrated iSync. When I asked about my phone he immediately asked for it and within 5 minutes had it paired with the machine, setup iSync to sync the address book phone numbers, iCal to sync the appointments and configured it to be a modem for the machine (GPRS is available through modem scripts that can be found on the web – they DO work). My only disappointment was that my Logitech headset could not be used for voice recognition (not that I would actually use it for that). It can be used for iChat, or my preferred ohphoneX (H.323 client).

The other gadgets I tend to always carry in my case are an iPod (no questions here) and a Canon S200, which works perfectly with iPhoto.

Needless to say I left the store that day with a shiny new Powerbook, an extra GB of RAM and the Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo running OSX 10.3.

Connecting in a Corporate environment:

My corporate environment is a standard Windows NT4 based PDC environment. I have never been a fan of roaming profiles, I typically take the responsibility of backing up my files on my own. My office is a remote location (the only US office of a European company), and I am the Director of IT, so I did not have any battles to fight with net admins.

Upon connecting to the network for the first time I immediately tried to browse the network. We have over a hundred different domains connected to our WAN, so it took a little time to load the list. I was able to view and connect to all that I have rights to. The only issue I had was connecting to Terminal Services servers that required the client to be run from a machine that was part of the domain. There are quite a few commercial applications for sale that assist with this, but they are completely unnecessary for those willing to get their hands dirty. In order to accomplish this feat all I had to do was give my machine the same name as my old laptop (which already had an account on the domain) and adjust the systems hostname from localhost to the corporate domain name. This can be done through the terminal, making yourself root and using pico to edit the /etc/hostconfig file. Here just edit the line “HOSTNAME=-AUTOMATIC-“ to “HOSTNAME=machinename.domain”. I would also suggest editing the SMB.CONF file so that the global setting “Server String = OSX” is changed to “Server String =

“. This string is what your sysadmins will see in the description of your machine if they browse servers on the network. If left blank….well what he does not know will not kill him.

I have several W2K fileservers that I connect to regularly and the Apple implementation of Samba works wonderfully. The only catch is when you go to connect to a server be sure to type the server name as “SMB://machinename”. If you do not you will still connect, but the performance will be horrible. Don’t include the share name because you will be presented with a list of all shares on the target machine to choose from. The Keychain seems to have some issues remembering my user names and passwords here, but I think I

probably misconfigured it.

Table of contents
  1. "Mac OS X Switch, Page 1/3"
  2. "Mac OS X Switch, Page 2/3"
  3. "Mac OS X Switch, Page 3/3"
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