There’s a new article on computer commentary site “The Idea Basket” detailing the features and importance of the Rendezvous networking protocol that will be shipping with next major release of Mac OS X. It should be a very interesting read for many computer users, as Rendezvous will profoundly affect the way people use their Macs as well as other computer systems in a networked setting.
Regarding Jaguar’s Rendezvous/Zeroconf Technology
Submitted by Jared White 2002-07-01 macOS 32 Comments
Sounds just like another version of DHCP or BOOTP to me. Hardly futuristic no matter how you dress it up.
i guess i still dont get the zeroconf hype
on networks running dhcp, no problem
on networks without dhcp running, still no problem… part of the dhcp spec is the assigning of a random ip address from a certain subnet if a dhcp server cannot be located.
ive never had much of a problem accessing a machine by name across tcpip both with and without dhcp servers present (and no static addresses assigned)
whats so special about zeroconf that isnt already avail right now?
“Finally, Rendezvous features what is known as service discovery.”
This includes such things as database connections, server services, media playlists and albums, printer configurations–not just printer locations,and just about anything that could be saved as an application preference if the app is programmed for it. This isn’t just dynamic, autmatic assignment of addressing–it’s discovery or services and functionalities across the network.
It’s more comparable to UPnP (but does anyone use UPnP, and what does it do really?) than DHCP.
Hold on to your chairs – Apple discovered what Novel did 10 years ago.
This autoconfiguration is already done in Windows 2000 and up – or I should say that Microsoft finally got TCP/IP stack right in Win2k.
Novel had autoconfiguration from at least version 3.11 when I started to play with it.
Service discovery was called SAP annoucements there.
Let’s wait and see may be Apple find out what LANtastic did too.
While i do think the whole auto configuration part is neat (even though its not all that new), the rest sorta worries me. The fact that apps have to be specially coded to take advantage of the new protocol, i dont think that will play to their advantage. Sure they could make the iApps work with it, but would companies really care all that much as to go and remake their apps for it? It almost seems like just an advanced type of NFS, which can do most of what the article talked about, well, except the auto-finding/auto-configuring part.
Hi, I’m the author. I’m afraid you missed the whole point of the article. Rendezvous is an open standard based on industry-standard IP protocols. Microsoft, Novell, and AppleTalk protocols are proprietary. Also, does Novell make mainstream desktop operating systems? No! So the amazing benefits of service discovery have been pratically unknown or inaccessible by 90% of the computer users out there.
In my opinion, futuristic computing isn’t defined so much by the incredible code coming out of a programmer’s head as it is defined by the use of new (or even existing) computer technologies to enable completely new types of applications. In fact, many futuristic technologies don’t even start out interesting. By today’s standards, the first Web browser was a pathetic joke. But it created an ENTIRE INDUSTRY in only a few short years. Now that’s futuristic.
I’m not getting the point of this technology. I understand, that it is not DHCP.
“Rendezvous” seems to work on a higher level. This is mainsteam today:
– each computer gets a IP (static, via DHCP or this Windows IP- auto assign thingy)
– I see files from other clients via the smb protocoll: Zero configuration!
– I see all avialable printers via CUPS -> Zero configuration!
– I see my friends in an IM -> Zero configuration!
– I see ton’s of files via a file sahring client (e.g. edonkey) -> Zero configuration!
All these things are available on different platforms.
So, as you can see I don’t see what **additional** things Apple can offer.
This is no flame. I really want to see, what’s so cool about Zeroconf, but I just don’t get it.
Zeroconf provides automatic service discovery. I think the real power of this technology will allow programs easier access to services.
A lot of the services you pointed out do exist today, but they aren’t tied together as a system service. For having chat like im service that could be used from any application. Like right clicking on a url and sending it to a friend. Or allow you to send a file from the os. Maybe integrated into a word processor.
I will agree with you that zeroconf operates on a meta like level, but thats the cool part. The possiblities are endless!
There isn’t one. It’s the *utility* built into the OS and anybody else willing to play that’s the tasty goodness here.
It’s not a cool thing, or a gee-whiz deal. Just… plug
it in and it works. Doesn’t work on older Mac OS X. Doesn’t work on Windows2K/2K Server (I have 2 2K server boxes running at home – the damned things take work to get each to see each other).
It’s not that it’s not easy for “us” – we’re the computer elite. We read sites about different and new OS technologies, fer cryin’ out loud This is a big step forward for the average Johnny Lunchpail who just wants to connect some boxes and get stuff working.
Out of the box.
And it’s not just an Apple thing. It’s, as was pointed out before, an open standard.
It may not be what they meant but this seems to be summed up by Sun’s line: “The network is the computer”.
Will this be the development which finaly kills of the idea of a “home server” which people have been talking about for years but never seemed to happen?
I for one never thought it would catch on and technology like this could mean it never will.
I just hate reading about Macs unless I have had about five beers and put on my beer goggles. I can’t stand apple and their phony elitist grass root campaign to popularize their proprietary products. They are no different than Microsoft all they want to do is rule the world and take your money. Apple Less flash more stuff!!
I didn’t hear thousands of users crying in pain for ZEROCONF/Rendezvous/AppleShareIP++. This so-called “new technology” sounds more like the Emperor’s new DHCP. Serverless, yes, but not setup-less. The first computer on the net becomes the seed for the entire system. Yes, we all know about BROADCAST and MULTICAST.
From the ZeroConf website, I cannot even see one real problem from a customer that is being solved. The stated goal is to implement NETBIOS-like functionality for large networks. Huh? Does this make sense? Do I want some random computer outside my firewall to be talking to my machine at this level? No way. What’s the point of having a firewall? In this day and age when more and more machines have personal firewalls, is ZEROCONF really solving the problem? Does it reconfigure my firewall automatically to pass through traffic on certain ports that these mystery apps of the future will need? Perhaps it has Oort Cloud high-performance compression so you can tunnel through HTTP with the speed of UDP?
Really, what “services” are new and truly useful to be shared? Was getting an IP address a big deal? Perhaps if I move my computer from one location to another and have to click on my TCP/IP or DHCP and tell my machine “get another IP address”… and most of the time, the computer figures it out anyway.
For a mobile PC, this might make a difference. I can go with my iBook/tiBook/iPod+fireNet, iPDA, etc., into an Internet cafe and connect to their printer. But I could do this with DHCP and already existing network discovery protocols.
Of course if we are dealing with non-computer devices, this is where some sort of DHCP-on-steroids makes sense. An Apple digital device that I put into my home audio system could play back MP3 files. Or play DVD streams. All of which is going to REQUIRE serious Palladium-style rights management for the RIAA/MPAA to go along for the ride. Which will torpedo any ease of use NetBIOS/IP might have put on the table.
Okay, if you could plug in an iPod anywhere on the net and it would automatically show up on everyone’s list of network services, that would be great. I would like to know what music Susie Stammer has playing on her headphones all day. I’m sure Susie would be happy too.
Maybe this is all a big dongle-enabling subterfuge technology. You can certainly make available all your DRM services on the net, eh? Or is it just so I can add fancy networking software to Windows so I can move files from my PC to my Mac iPod? A tiny virtual FTP server would serve the same purpose and work today with tons of software.
As for Windows, if you can type in a name for a workgroup, you can share/see files/printers/etc. Sure, it will likely be a little more clumsy than the Mac. But of all the things I work with day in and day out, networking problems are not even on the list. Do I worry about connecting with machines across the Internet automatically? Hell NO! I worry that I want to know it’s NOT HAPPENING not that it is! I’ve got a firewall for a reason.
Overall, I cannot see the point of this technology right now. It solves no pressing problem, sounds like it introduces massive security risks, and gives people just one more thing to have to deal with.
Apple might actually benefit from a little less style and a lot more substance. I’d appreciate better and faster printing much more than I’d appreciate some minor ease of use enhancement to find my printer. I don’t go finding printers all the time. But I do print quite often.
the argument about apple’s propriatary blah blah blah is IMO rediculous.
every consumer electronic that you buy on the shelf is proprietary.
Dell, Gateway, Compaq, IBM, etc…
al those PCs have proprietary configurations that do not allow you much expandability passed what a Mac does.
sure you can build yourself a PC, but you are in the minority.
any person who despised proprietary products had better be making there own radios, TVs, Monitors, Lamps, chairs, etc.. because all, while being based on standards use proprietary configurations.
so, basicly, shut up unless you are one of those hippy geeks that live in a commune and make all objects that surround you…k
The big deal is that this new system allows for complete zero configuration.
A lot of people have brought up things like IM and the like saying that you don’t need to configure them. That is true, but someone did. The reason it appears to work without configuration is that someone already set up the server for you.
This new tech is more along the lines of being able to communicate together without the need for a specially configured server. DHCP is not automatic even though it appears that way to the user.
This tech (which really doesn’t seem to have much to do with Apple; I like/own macs) is great/important and people will see that as time goes on. This really isn’t an Apple/PC debate here over whether a new Apple tech is any good. It’s an industry standard that Apple has just decided to adopt sooner than others and might have had an ingrediant or two in the pot during development. I’m sure other companies were involved in the development as well (heck, even companies have spured Linux along).
You must be a Mac user, so I apologize if I sound pedantic.
ZEROCONF is about getting machines to work together on a large-scale network. It is about taking the automatic configuration capabilities of NETBIOS and expanding them to larger networks. It is not about automatically swapping out your CPU or upgrading your motherboard or finding some antiquated PC100 SODIMM memory for your iMac that came with your new Beemer.
I realize you are just going along with Apple’s latest advertisement campaign, “Dare To Be Stupid”. I don’t hold it against you. I know you are much smarter and could have figured out how to use a computer with two mouse buttons. I hear they have special training classes for Mac users “now, everyone LEFT click. now, everyone RIGHT click.” After you’ve mastered two-button mousing, they send you to scroll-wheel class. And then to Financial Success class — “this is what you can do with all the money you saved”.
In this day and age, the last thing you want is to lose your chops on the #1 computing platform. If you think the world is migrating to Mac en masse, wake up. Apple is almost down to a round-off error when it comes to market share. Soon it will have effectively zero share.
Does Rendezvous change this? Probably not. Once we have real world problems that are being solved with Rendezvous, let us take another gander.
Until then, have fun with mono-culture.
Some of you guys are just absolutely missing the point. And why the hatred for a computer platform? Just curious about the vitriol. Aren’t NASA engineers supposed to be pretty bright?
What about U. Michigan engineers? Or Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley engineers? All Mac houses/institutes.
Get a grip. Just ‘cuz some Mac users act like confused lemmings who follow the Cupertino RDF (Reality Distortion Field) isn’t a reason to indict all of ’em. ‘Course, I detest maclots as much as winlots or any other brand of OS zealot.
Back to the program…
A real world problem that’s solved? What about putting over 200 new machines, plugging them in and having them know about each other without touching a thing? It works.
It’s not the newest big shiny – which is good, but it’s funny that that’s what everybody wants. It’s something that’s good and works. Why the slamming? Apple didn’t claim to innovate anything – it’s part of a friggin’ working committee to get this off of the ground. An OPEN standard (proprietary? won’t go there…) that sounds pretty helpful. What’s the problem with having this piece of tech? It doesn’t threaten anything. Sheesh, live and let live.
Computers are tools, folks. Right tool, right job. When I want to move files from one machine at work to another, I just plug in cables and they’re there, connected. A real world problem When I want to help subsidize the cockroach theory, I’ll use Windows. Or if I wanna efficiently rip a DVD If I want to integrate my neural network server into the scheduling infrastructure of my system, I’ll use FreeBSD or something else that gives me the source to the kernel. Oh wait, that’s Mac OS X, too
Just curious – how many folks who’ve commented have actually used the zeroconf funtionality in Mac OS X? It’s pretty nice, and better than configuration Hell. Trust me, it’ll solve the real world problem of folks w/multiple machines at home. As long as the Redmond Boys play along. Which they probably will – won’t hurt, probably help…
By proprietary I am speaking of products that are not conforming to open-systems standards, and thus puts the customer at the mercy of a vendor able to gouge freely on service and upgrade charges after the initial sale has locked the customer in
Radios, TV, telephones, chairs, etc have little to do with this argument because those items in themselves are of an open standard driven by an open market of competition. A chair is a chair is a chair…
I don’t despise proprietary products; in fact I do believe that there is a place for proprietary products in the market. But to hijack this protection provided by our government for businesses and to build your business model around locking customers into a proprietary dependency is a mob tactic.
this sounds like IPv6 to me…if i am understanding it correctly
To understand Apple, you have to look at what their game plan is. Jobs never says what it is, beyonf “digital hub”, but his/Apple’s actions speak volumes. Jobs is the hypemeister of all time, but see what he’s doing. He’s realistic, he’s trying to get Apple’s niches a little larger and sturdier. Look at this standard we’re talking about – it can be used for the home digital hub, it can be used is schools…and what just started shipping today” Xserver! Apple’s initial re-entry into the server market. It will only be a niche market, but Jobs is staking the niche(s) out and trying to get to where Apple owns them. So, for Jobs/Apple, this technology dovetails perfectly in all the niches Apple wants to be strong in. And he can call it iNetwork or something like that and make Apple come out smelling like roses.
It is good technology for Apple. If you choose to utilize ZEROCONF, you’ve got to patch/rewrite all your existing networking code, including the firmware/flashware in your hardware firewalls and routers. That certainly defines a niche market, I’d say.
I cannot imagine home networks that have the complexity the is needed to require this fancy dynamic multicast DNS, routing, IP checking/rechecking, address management, host name management, etc… in all the machines that need this “ease of use”. What devices would require this? 200 iPods that have GigE instead of Firewire?
ZOROCONF sounds like a good “nice to have”. It saves system administrators from one or two dialog boxes worth of info on TCP/IP, or if they use DHCP, it saves them next to nothing. It only makes sense in the home environment if you are always changing your network. If you have a simple setup, then DHCP or static IP’s work fine. As NetBIOS for TCP/IP, it seems like useful technology, especially the multicast DNS and DNS-based abstract service discovery.
A more useful technology would have been to simply print the MAC address of each device on the outside of the device. So when you add a new device to your network, you simply sit down at your main computer and type in one string of numbers once. And then everything is setup to work within your normal network. Some simple protocol could have been setup to do with mystery devices. Instead, this new protocol assumes everything is a always a mystery device with a mystery address. Nice.
So what are the real implications? From the ZEROCONF website, it means just about ALL my other software and hardware that deals with TCP/IP has to be UPDATED. Sounds like the cure is worse than the disease! Sounds like this is another pro-industry subterfuge spec designed to make me spend money. With all the changes it means my network doesn’t work like it used to. In fact, it is dynamically changing, making many of my tools not work as well anymore.
Please tell me again what burning problem required this new technology? Oh yeah, if I have TWO HUNDRED home computers, that was it! If operating system software actually has to be installed on these machines, the incremental cost of DHCP is next to nothing. So I don’t save any money. With all the “new technology” I have to deal with, I’ll probably end up losing money and time with ZEROCONF.
Some comments on how ZEROCONF works with IP4:
This document prescribes rules for how IPv4 link-local addresses MUST be treated by hosts and routers. In particular, it describes how routers MUST behave when receiving packets with IPv4 link-local addresses in the source or destination address. With respects to hosts, it discusses claiming and defending addresses, maintaining
a link-local address and routable addresses on the same interface, and multihoming issues.
Sections 2.n talk about all the issues with existing networking technology that have to be solved. Read it; we’re not talking trivial stuff here.
All these cases means new code, new versions, upgrades, perhaps new hardware in the case of non field-upgradable firewall/routers.
And the person who wrote the comment about IPv6 had an apt observation. From the ZEROCONF document:
3.1.1 IPv6 Considerations
IPv6 allows a host to select an appropriate IP address and netmask using Stateless Autoconfiguration[RFC2462]. Thus a zeroconf IP interface configuration solution already exists for hosts using IPv6.
Given Moore’s Law and hardware commoditization, this new software doesn’t make sense. A cheap little box with its MAC address printed on the outside could have solved all these problems are required zero software changes. Given that beyond two computers, you need a switch/hub anyway… the switch could have been enhanced to auto-config new devices. Moore’s Law points towards these sorts of solutions, not fancy software solutions that force big changes across the system.
Anyhow, I hope Apple does something useful with this technology. With all the functionality being claimed to be in Jaguar, I hope Apple is really focusing on testing. Just this new protocol will require extensive testing in a wide variety of environments.
Well, at the moment, MAC addresses aren’t always printed on the outside of all network hardware, and the mythical average consumers like things that are convenient. Yes, they do.
SOOO….they’d like saving a few dialog boxes on their computer. Also, it is quite possible that Zeroconf can be extended outside the realm of computers, into appliances and whatnot, since some people still want things to speak IPv4/6. There may be a time, int he future, when people do have several networked devices, and it would be nice if they could talk to each other.
Isn’t ZeroConf just another option you can choose from? Can’t current firewalls be quickly patched to reject ZeroConf autodiscovery requests? Doesn’t Zeroconf not even work unless both computers have software for it? Software vendors will simply have to ensure that default configurations have as FEW services running as possible, and include some sort of monitor of which services are running, which are being “discovered and used” and, of course, ways to kill services. Zeroconf can be done securely, even out of the box. It just needs the same care and attention you apply to any other networking situation.
Yes, it’s not perfect, and security issues will come up and be solved as the standard evolves, but the hardware/software issue is nothing compared to the slow and gradual transition to IPv6, which is WAY more important, as it’s a much bigger mess for the bazillions of legacy networking stuff out there. Zeroconf can be squeezed in comfortably alongside IPv6 in future computers. Maybe Apple wants the functionality THER to “future-proof” MacOS.
–enough rambling from me.
You need something like this whenever you have more than one machine connected. Basta.
It saves work in DHCP and DNS configuration. It saves having to know where the damn dialog are hidden under Win95 vs 98 vs Me, vs 2000 vs XP vs MacOS8 vs MacOSX.
With RendezVous/ZeroConf, you don’t need a “main computer”. Not every small business wants to have a sysadmin to configure their network when they buy a new computer or printer. So it doesn’t “only make sense in the home environment”.
The protocol doesn’t require to update anything. The document describing the implication for IPv4 states that the subnet is already reserved for autoconf purpose. It is already used from Win98 and MacOS8.5 when no DHCP is found.
The only implication is that routers shouldn’t route the packet. If they do, nothing horrible will happen. It will only leak packets. The document already state that packet with TTL other than 255 will be ignored by the protocol, so two independent subnet connected with a non-conformant router will just see increased traffic.
All the stuff in section 2.n describes the protocol itself. It doesn’t affect existing devices. Yes, implementing a protocol is “non trivial”. No, nobody is forced to implement it. What are the issue to be solved? Reme,ber: the subnet was already reserved for autoconf. It is already in use from Win98 and up and MacOS8.5 and up. Is your network already disrupted?
Finally, what’s the fixation with IP address selection? Autoconf is more than that.
Some people are so geeky they can’t imagine that some other people don’t understand what a network is, let alone an IP address and how to configure it.
With zeroconf (again, not an Apple proprietary thing), it isn’t hard to imagine a home office or a small company buying a couple boxes with wireless ethernet builtin, and by simply bringing them close enough they can share files and see eachother’s resources.
Apple wants that because it brings Macs one step closer to being plug and play out of the box. It’s reasonable, and they’re playing it in the open (as they did when they introduced the first Airport, also standards based).
How to connect two Macs:
Step 1: insert power cord in wall socket
Step 2: turn on
Step 3: there is no step 3
BTW, if using two button mice doubles your productivity, what does the scroller wheel do to you?
It’s amazing how many idiots post here as if they know what they’re talking about.
ZeroConf and Rendezvous can be thought of as one or two things.
If you prefer to think of them as one thing, think of them as zero-configuration networking. Yes, this has existed in many ways before, but the down side is that it has existed in MANY ways before. This is an attempt to pursue a standard. But by thinking of it this way I think you’re missing the main picture…
That being thinking of them as two separate things. Yes, COMPUTERS can now “set themselves up” quite easily. But the point of Rendezvous is that now APPS can set themselves up with zero configuration.
The example they showed at WWDC was iTunes automatically finding someone else’s playlist – across the network – and allowing play of songs ON that playllist – streaming via a wireless connection – as soon as the second computer walked within range (really, “opened its lid and awoke from sleep”).
To those who miss this, read that section again. The standard file browser in Windows doesn’t pare down the list of computers available to only those sharing a particular service: the _only_ service offered is file sharing, really.
To the person who said “why would people rewrite their apps…” or whatever… I added Rendezvous support to the open-source chat client Adium in less than six hours. I wrote a simple netcam browser that allowed you to find any available netcams in the _world_ (granted, the netcams had to be listing their services as available) – within a few hours. This was also done as a demo at WWDC.
ZeroConf is cached – it doesn’t re-query every node for available services. It’s intelligent. Yes, it empowers computers themselves to get an IP, but big deal – the REAL benefits of this technology, and the way in which Apple has adopted it, have far reaching effects in the _software_ world.
Many, many, many of you are missing the point. It’s not about DHCP. It _uses_ DHCP, and extends upon it (or beside it). It’s not a replacement for DHCP. And it goes WAY beyond file sharing.
other than Binary compatability and APIs, what is proprietary about the Mac?
look at linux. you think that is any more open? no, it is not. there are 3 major packaging systems, all incompatable.
also, can I use an RPM on a windows machine? how about a mac?
sure, the code for RPM and DEB and PKGtool might be GPL, but if the rest of the industry does not embrace it you have the net effect of having a proprietary system.
until the entire computing industry settles on one API and ABI no one will be truly open.
I’m not involved in software development too much, but I do a great deal of software and network configurations.
And I do it for big clients, very big.
All this conversation above looks a bit amateurish to me.
Statements like So the amazing benefits of service discovery have been pratically unknown or inaccessible by 90% of the computer users out there or What about putting over 200 new machines, plugging them in and having them know about each other without touching a thing? are just a fluff.
What the hell do you know about enterprise management?
200 computers – give me a break. Companies need to configure 200,000 computers, not 200. And there are products that can do it now. There were several other initiatives like this before – starting from bootp protocol. What is so futuristic there ? Just because it came from Apple and not from Intel? Microsoft started open initiative too – WBEM.
I stated it before – Novel did it 10 years ago and at that time Novel dominated networking market. And before you call it proprietary check your facts. There are published RFCs for IPX/SPX (how else do you think Linux gets support for it) and BTW, Novel is doing TCP/IP now.
Service annoucements is marketing term – we are techie here.
It’s all about port listeners, pollers and broadcasting/multicasting.
Write your application with SNMP support and that’s all.
Is SNMP too dificult for Apple developers to grasp ? Macs have so poor SNMP support (may be OS X changed things)
Or may be Randevous is really a directory services for kids ?
It may beat NIS (it was first open directory standard) but how well it scales comparing to LDAP ? What about NDS – yes, this one is proprietary but business don’t really care if it’s open standard or not.
Or may be it’s an invitation for virus creators?
You still missed the point of the original article. When did I mention the benefits of Rendezvous/Zeroconf for enterprises with 200,000 computers? Why would 200,000 computers be sharing iPhoto libraries? Who cares about Novell when we’re talking about iTunes playlists?
Obviously, this technology wasn’t designed for someone like you, OK?
vlad is correct in his conclusion that Zeroconf will not scale up to a 200,000 computer network. It is not meant to. However he ignors another important fact, LDAP and other enterprise network directory systems do not scale down well to home and small office environments. Zeroconf is aimed at that market not enterprise.
For the larger customer Apple claims that Jaguar will come with support for LDAP. The current version (10.1) comes with Apples NetInfo application. This is a proprietary network directory system that can interface with an LDAP directory. I got the impression from Apple’s announcement that Jaguar’s directory system will be true LDAP.
What do *I* know about enterprise management? Um, how about 10 years working for the federal government and various Fortune 100 companies?
Zeroconf is just as useful at the hi-end.
How about this – only folks who’ve implemented/ported stuff to use this or have used it complain about it’s scalability? That way, we have actual experience versus trying to figure out something from the spec
What do I know about… Heh. More than I wanna know about Enterprise sys. mgmt. That’s why I stopped – I was turning into the Bastard Operator from Hell
I guess I’ll still harp on about civility and such. Geeks can still be cool and collected, nice and pleasant, no?
‘S why I left Slashdot – the SNR was so damned low ‘cuz of the hardcore zealots and the s’kids…
For less than fifty bucks, you can get a good router + firewall + dhcp server for your home network.
From the article —
“All of this may sound difficult to set up, but it’s not. We took longer to remove the twist ties from the Ethernet cable than to get up and running and surfing our first Web page. We plugged a WAN connection into the DI-604, attached an Ethernet cable to a PC, plugged in the power, and our setup worked.”
Sounds a lot better than ZEROCONF to me. If you have one piece of TCP/IP software or hardware in your system that is not ZEROCONF aware… you’ve got headaches and you’ve potentially exposed your internal network to outside security threats.
It not too long, the entire router/firewall/dhcp set of services will occupy a tiny piece of silicon on a network chip. And ship as part of all the low-end switches. It might even be built into every dual port network adapter as an embedded microserver. With more and more of the semiconductor industry moving to smaller geometry chips, the possibilities are endless.
So, for the home network Apple is championing changing every damn piece of TCP/IP software on your machine because they don’t understand Moore’s Law. Immense cost vs. adding a $50 item to the Apple Store. Redo all that code, test innumerable options vs. having the web team take 15 minutes to add an item to the store. Or INCLUDING it with every high-end Mac. And then the CUSTOMER would get a protected network, DHCP, and a router to make their home network really work well.
For the enterprise network, I cannot see the purpose of ZEROCONF. It doesn’t integrate with anything else. Yes, for a bunch of lazy cowboys in a research lab setting up demos, it’s great. Let me take that success case to the CIO. Not in this economy.
Apple could have simply done what Vlad mentioned — implement standard SNMP and the other computer management protocols and gotten far more functionality than ZEROCONF. And it all would have worked NOW and without changing all your TCP/IP software throughout your enterprise. There seems to be no cost/benefit analysis for ZEROCONF that makes sense.
Wait. I get it. PowerPC is immune to speed increases so Apple doesn’t believe Moore’s Law really works. With Apple’s move to 1Ghz behind the PC market by three years, no wonder Apple thinks they’ve got to do it all in software. They are scared the hardware will never get done.
Why are you so adamantly opposed to ZeroConf? Is it just because Apple is the first company to introduce it in a real product? I’m not a huge Apple fan either, but I think ZeroConf is a useful standard to implement, and therefore am glad that Apple will be able to prove its usefulness (or lack thereof, as you suggest.)
Even if it ends up being a big flop, isn’t it better that SOMEONE actually try it, instead of a bunch of geeks just speculating like you guys have been here.
Personally I think it is a great idea, but only if all the OSes I use implemented it. For example it would be great to be able to bring my laptop home from work, boot up my home computer, and then be able to easily share files between them. Despite being a “geek” with networking skills, I have yet to get around to do this now, since it is such a pain. Sure, I could reconnect my old Linux box which is currently off the network and get it all set up and then put dhcpd to use, but that is still a pain (even though I’ve already set it up.) If I had not already set that up, it would be even more of a pain. Another good use of ZeroConf would be having a bunch of friends come over to have a quick LAN party and have our network just *work*. If you think the average Joe off the street could set up a Linux box with dhcpd for something like this, you really need to come back to the real world from Geekitopia.
But, regarding Moore’s Law and that router you linked, I will admit you have an excellent point. In fact, man I need to pick one of those puppies up
If ZeroConf requires a bunch of changes to network software (in addition to all the work needed to add it to an OS), then I might have to agree with you that it is too much and not worthwhile. But I’m not too sure that a lot of changes would be needed, and I think some really neat applications could come out of it. But either way, don’t you at least think it deserves a *chance* to prove itself either way? Or does any technology that you don’t like just deserve to be crushed?
I referenced ZEROCONF’s own documents for a reason. As data for two points that I’m trying to make:
1) ZEROCONF requires all my TCP/IP and related software and hardware to be patched, rewritten, and retested. This is a huge huge cost. At this point in time, do we need this? With all the focus in the nation on security, is this a good time to introduce a high security risk technology?
2) ZEROCONF does not have a real customer or ROI study backing it up. Who is it for? What customers were involved in creating it? It doesn’t sound like it is suited for the enterprise user. And it doesn’t seem like it tackles a very significant problem for the average home user.
For the Linux environment, you raise an interesting point. What makes more sense? Patching all the Linux TCP/IP related code to support ZEROCONF or making it easier for Linux boxes to support DHCP? As DHCP support is already there and just needs some relatively minor setup/config polish, I’d vote for making DHCP easier.
Let’s look at your examples more carefully:
A) For the laptop you want to take home and then use on your home network. This is a very intriguing question as it very much depends on what sort of network environment and security your work mandates for your laptop. What I found from my experience is that with DHCP (which many companies use), I could connect to either my home network on my work network rather easily. To share my files and printer, I needed to create a different profile and then tell Windows to use it — in the days of Win 98, this required a reboot to be 100% glitch free. So it was not a 100% pain free process. I could find many ways to make it 99% easy, but there was never anything that was 100% easy. However, the reality was that it wasn’t 100% easy because of corporate security concerns, not because I was missing out on ZEROCONF.
With ZEROCONF, I’d have new concerns about managing security in each location. I’d also have the problem of always making sure everything in my environments was ZEROCONF compatible.
B) A Linux-based LAN party. As you have to power up your machines at the new location, the $50 router/dhcp server + DHCP on your Linux box and you’re good to go. Yes, you’d still need some sort of service discovery protocol to be fully automated or the person/people running the server could simply shout out their hostname or depend on the game’s auto-discovery protocol, whichever is faster.
Overall, I don’t want to crush ZEROCONF. But I do want to protect my productivity and security from gratuitous technology that costs a lot of time and money and doesn’t seem to have a clear payoff. You can see the large delays in getting the world from IPv4 to IPv6. Why add another factor that affects a lot of code and many applications? I’m a big fan of the $50 router 😉
So I’d say that ZEROCONF is a good idea but needs more evolution. From what I wrote before, the multicast DNS service discovery protocol might be very useful if it were standardized.