Lightlink is a local Internet Service Provider.
It is owned and operated by Homer Wilson Smith.

To send him comments or orders for an account, click here
Visit his home page for more information on lightlink.



TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is a protocol by which applications on different computers communicate with each over via the Internet. Computers can transmit the TCP/IP protocol over a hard-wired network such as Ethernet or Token Ring network or over a modem, using special protocols known as SLIP (Serial Line Interface Protocol) or PPP (Point to Point Protocol).

MacTCP vs Open Transport

Traditionally, TCP/IP has been implemented on the Macintosh via the MacTCP control panel distributed by Apple. MacTCP is decent software, but it was originally written back in the 1980s. It simply isn't up to the tough tasks internet users demand, is difficult to set up and has an annoying tendency to crash, especially when users browse in Netscape for extended periods of time.

In 1995 Apple introduced
Open Transport is a new TCP/IP interface technology intended to be easier to use, more versatile, faster, and less prone to crash. According to Apple, Open Transport will be a better than any other microcomputer based interface to the internet.

But Open Transport is still a new technology. Apple made a big mistake in releasing it early. Versions 1.0.x were disasters. Only with version 1.1 did it become a viable alternative for most Mac users, with the exception of users of the PowerPC or Performa 5xxx and 6xxx series, for whom OT will not work. 1.1.1, now in beta, promises to fix that problem and others besides. I would recommend it for everyone using a Mac with more than 6MB of RAM. Note that if you have a 68020 (LC, Mac II) or 68000 (Plus, Classic, Powerbook 100) or are not running system 7.5.3, you cannot use open transport. The alternative for owners of those macs, as well as owners of PowerPC or Performa 5xxx and 6xxx macs who do not want to use the 1.1.1 beta is to use MacTCP 2.0.6

Getting MacTCP

Even though Open Transport is available free from Apple, MacTCP remains subject to bizarre licensing agreements and is somewhat hard to get. If you want MacTCP and it did not come pre-installed on your computer, you have three options.

Configuring MacTCP

In order to configure MacTCP to work with lightlink, open up your MacTCP control panel, select the slip or ppp system that you will use to connect your computer to lightlink (see below) and then click on more. Fill in the setup as in the picture below. You won't be able to type into some of the fields as they will be locked. Don't worry about them, they will be filled in automatically each time your computer hooks up with lightlink.

Actually, you will want to add a few more entries for the Domain Name Server Info that don't appear in the picture above. The completed boxes will include the following addresses:

Domain IP Address  

For more info on MacTCP see the MacTCP FAQ
and Apple's technical info on Domain Name Server Configuration Problems

Getting Open Transport

First, make sure you have a new version of Open Transport. You should use at least version 1.0.8 and preferably version 1.1.

Version 1.0.8 is available at You may find it downloads fastest from

Version 1.1 is not yet officially available. An unsupported, pre-release version called 1.1b16 is publicly available from

If that's busy try and

Configuring Open Transport

In order to configure Open Transport to work with lightlink, open up TCP/IP control panel, select the slip or ppp system that you will use to connect your computer to lightlink (see below) and then click on more. Fill in the setup as in the picture below. If you are using FreePPP, set connect via to MacSLIP and Connect to Connect via MacPPP and Configure to Using PPP. If you are using version 1.0.8 of Open Transport or below, the setup will look slightly different.

With Open Transport 1.0.8 and earlier, the proper settings for the TCP/IP control panel are as above, but set configure to Manually.

All other fields should be left blank - especially the Subnet mask: and IP Address fields.


MacSLIP 3.0 is commercial software and isn't free, but it is more elegant and stable than FreePPP. MacSLIP also supports both PPP and SLIP.

If you are a member of the Cornell "community," you can receive a copy of MacSLIP with their EZ-REMOTE packages, but I am unsure if the Cornell license for MacSLIP allows you to use it with Lightlink. Make sure that you use version 3.0.3 of MacSLIP.

Follow the directions that come with MacSLIP. MTU should be 576. You can try either PPP or SLIP. Refer to the FreePPP section below in order to get an appropriate modem string.

No matter how you get Macslip, you will need to obtain my script for signing onto lightlink or write your own.


MacPPP and FreePPP are free implementations of PPP. They do not seem to be as stable as either MacSLIP 3.0's implementiations of PPP or SLIP, but the price is right.

MacPPP is a valiant first try, but is not as up-to-date as FreePPP and is not compatible with Open Transport. MacPPP should only be used on 68000 Macs (i.e. the Plus, the Classic, the Powerbook 100, etc.)

FreePPP gives you better stability with virtual memory, some new windows, support for rates of 115Kbps and 230Kbps on Macs w/GeoPort serial architecture (useful for 28.8 modems), and fixes other assorted bugs. If you choose to have me come out and set up your mac for use with lightlink, I will generally install the newest version of FreePPP. FreePPP is not an official release by Merit (the makers of MacPPP) and the name has been changed to avoid the confusion with other MacPPP derivatives. FreePPP requires at least System 7.1 and a Mac that supports Color QuickDraw.

Lightlinker David Post has posted a preference file to configure your copy of MacPPP to work with Lightlink and instructions on how to use it. If you can't download it directly, try the following: open the Config PPP control panel, which will look like this. A big debate rages on the usenet group comm.sys.mac.comm about whether the faces are horrible or whether they are little works of art.

If you have your modem connected to your printer port, select printer from the port name pop-up menu. For PPP Server choose whatever modem most closely matches yours or the SupraFAXModem v.32bis, which will work for many other modems. You can rename PPP Server to whatever you want, it's just for your own use.

Click on the Config... button to obtain the following dialog:

If you have a 14.4K modem, set the Port Speed to 19200. For a 28.8Kbps modem, set the Port Speed to 57600. You can try 38400 or 57600 for a 14.4k and 128000 for a 28.8k but by doing so you're more likely to cause trouble than increase your performance. Any speed gains will only be with uncompressed files with lots of repetitive info (plain text files for example). Installing Open Transport is more likely to give you speed gains.

Set flow control to CTS+RTS (DTR).

For phone number, insert 277-5026.

If you have a Global Village Teleport Platinum modem, try out a modem string that I have cooked up myself:

AT &F1 S10=80 S11=1 L0 W1 \N4

This modem string has the added benefit of accelerating dialing and turning your speaker to low.

If you have another type of modem and have trouble with AT &F1, try

AT &F1 &A3 &B1 &D0 &H1 &I0 &R2


AT &F N1 &C1 &D0 &K3 &Q5 S10=20

or even

AT &F0 &C1 &D2 &K3 &R0 W1 &W

as your init string. Spaces often help.

Try to determine which factory default (&F) setting is meant to work with your modem with a mac. &F3 works with Practical Peripherals. &F1 works with Supras.

Do not use &W in scripts for US Robotics 28.8k modems. The &W does a write to non-volative ROM - There is a limit of about 10,000 writes that may be done to NVRAM and thus &W uses up many of the possible writes. &W should be used only when the init string is changed.

For more help, turn to

the Internet Starter Kit's List of Modem Strings

Click on the Connect Script... button for the final dialog:

Set out/wait states, cr boxes, and fill in the lines in this dialog as follows:

out           (cr) 
wait :
out  userid   (cr) 
wait :
out  password (cr)
wait :
out  ppp      (cr)

where userid is your userid and password is your password.


Although the above picture implies otherwise, the first instruction should indeed be to send a cr out!

Press OK to close the Connect Script.

Press "Done" to close the Configuration dialog.


It seems that many problems tend to recur. Rule #1: If it works, for God's sake don't monkey with it unless you know what you are doing. Really, I mean that! Just ask yourself: what will I gain? If you are using MacTCP and are having trouble with PPP or MacTCP running out of memory, go into the control panel folder, select MacTCP and carefully put a space in front of the its name. MacTCP will then load before the rest of your control panels. If you are using MacTCP, have tried the above remedy and are still having a problem, throw away MacTCP, another file called MacTCP DNR (in your system folder), MacTCP Prep (in the preferences folder within your system folder), and reinstall from scratch. See if that helps. If you are using Open Transport, try switching to MacTCP. This is painless: launch a program called Network Software Selector (in your Apple Extras folder). Select "Use Classic Networking"). Restart. If you are having trouble reading your e-mail with Eudora, check to see if your password and userid are correct. The "change password" command in Eudora only affects what password Eudora sends to lightlink's mail server. It DOES NOT change your password on lightlink's server. Speaking of passwords and userids, double and triple check yours to see if they are correct. Fax software is often a problem. Try turning yours OFF. Check to see if you have a system conflict. Info on conflicts resides at:


Once you have MacTCP and either SLIP or PPP installed, you will want to use internet client applications to take your mac down the information superhighway. The most popular applications are discussed below. You can also try

Andrew's MACTCP Drive-Thru
for the latest versions of internet clients.



The National Center for Supercomputing Applications created the first graphical web browser. A stunning innovation at the time, NCSA Mosaic opened the web to Macs. The creation of Netscape by a number of the original developers of Mosaic has made Mosaic play catch-up ever since. Mosaic does have a few advantages over Netscape, most notably allowing you to annotated web pages with text and audio.


Macweb is the first non-NCSA web browser for the mac. Compared to the first version of Mosaic, it was snappy and had a number of great features. Unfortunately, development of Macweb fell behind to Netscape and the new version of Mosaic. Still, Macweb is fast and holds the distinction of using the least amount of memory to run and can be run on the broadest range of platforms, down to a mac with a 68000 microprocessor and no color quickdraw capability, such as a Powerbook 100. The future of Macweb is uncertain as the program has entered a transition phase, on its way to becoming a commercial product


Netscape is now the World Wide Web browser of choice. The company that makes it issued a set of extensions to standard web code allowing Netscape users superior page layout capabilities such as background images that have only recently been picked up by Mosaic and Macweb. More and more pages are being made with Netscape codes, ensuring its dominance over the market.

While Netscape 1.12 may run on more older Macs, Netscape 2.0 is the product of choice. It is faster, supports built in e-mail for when you can't stop surfing long enough to launch Eudora, more sophisticated newsreading, and lots of new extensions to the web such as shockwave.


While Netscape 1.12 and 2.0 are the best browsers around at the moment, they are also prone to crash on modem-based internet setups. Netscape Defrost, an extension, seems to clear up a lot of the problems. If Netscape crashes when you try to download a page with multiple images, the program is having trouble dealing with multiple data streams. The solution is to go into Netscape's Preferences (under the Options menu), select the submenu for Cache and Network and set the number of simultaneous connections to 1 or 2 at the most. That way, Netscape will only try to grab one or two images at a time and you should have fewer crashes.

Installing Open Transport 1.1b16 or above may also help.

You can also check out the

Unofficial Macintosh Netscape Clinic

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is powerful competition for Netscape and it should be: the world's largest software company feels so threatened by Netscape's success that they are throwing all of their weight and a lot of their money behind their Internet Explorer efforts.

For a company that often seems to put the Mac OS last (witness the Word 6 disaster), Microsoft has done an admirable job with Internet Explorer. It supports Internet Config, inline Quicktime movies, and if you have Quickdraw 3D installed, it supports VRML, a virtual reality markup language that allows you to browse in three-dimensional virtual space where it is available.


Unless you wish to read your e-mail by telnetting to lightlink (see below for a telnet application), you will want an email client program to transfer mail between your computer and lightlink's mail servers. There are two options today:


Eudora is a sturdy little e-mail program that comes in two flavors: Eudora Light, which is free and Eudora Pro, the commercial version.


Although most people prefer Eudora, some people like Claris Em@iler's interface better. Its main advantage over Eudora is that it can download all of your e-mail from a number of different on-line services, e.g. lightlink, eworld, america online, by logging into those services for you. Claris E-Mailer has a 30 day demo feature. After that, you must pay.


File Transfer Protocol or FTP is the primary way of transmitting files and programs between two computers on the internet. Fetch's easy-to-use interface makes uploading and downloading files to and from remote ftp sites a breeze.



Some users prefer Anarchie, which also gives you the ability to search for files on different servers throughout the internet via the "Archie" indexing system.


A telnet application allows you to access or "telnet" to other computers on the Internet. You will want to do this in order to access your unix lightlink account and other services such as Cornell's library system.



Telnet and TN3270 client for remote login produced by Cornell. The added support for TN3270 computers makes Comet more versatile than NCSA Telnet.

The $30 Shareware version from Trumansberg's own databeast, Inc. called dataComet adds Open Transport support.


The center of Internet social life, the Usenet consists of over 15,000 newsgroups in which internet users contribute to topics as diverse as mac communications, censorship, and ways to make Barney the dinosaur extinct.


In order to read "Usenet" news, the best choice is John Norstrad's Newswatcher. A variant known as Yet Another Newswatcher includes a number of improvements including binary posting and anonymous posting.


Gopher was originally created as a fast and easy to use information search and retrieval system. Information accessible via gopher is organized hierarchically and stored on gopher servers throughout the Internet. Like the web, a gopher server can contain files, directories and searchable databases as well as references to other servers and you can open and view text files from within gopher. Unlike the web, links to other servers can't exist within the text files. Page layout features are virtually nonexistent. On the plus side, gopher is generally faster than the web and is a better means of downloading files such as programs.


Although web browsers can search through gopher servers, they are not as efficient as TurboGopher, the Macintosh gopher client of choice with the crazy icon (but wait until you see the startup screen). The most bizarre internet application available is probably TurbogopherVR which makes gopherspace into something like the graphic user interface seen in Juraissic Park crossed with the game "Spectre." It isn't very useful, easy to use, fast, or stable, but you can't want everything.


Internet Config is a freeware utility that lets you store your Internet account information and preferences in one place so that many applications can access it. Internet Config is a great idea, but only a few applications (such as Claris Emailer) have been programmed to work with it.