Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AirPort Utility 6.0

Glenn Fleishman:

You may like, for most network purposes, the simplicity of version 6. It looks to me as though Apple has pruned at least half of the options available in nested dialog boxes and elsewhere. (You may also hate it for this reason.) For average users, having fewer choices with better presentation is a plus. For network admins and advanced users, you’ll be cursing Apple as you download the previous version.

Will the missing features be restored in an update to 6.0? AirPort Utility 5.6 works today, but what happens the next time Mac OS X and iCloud are updated? Since Apple has not stated its intent, I think you have to assume that the current 6.0 feature set is what they plan to support going forward.

As it happens, though, I’m no longer using AirPort Utility. A few months ago, I decided to retire a Time Capsule that I had inherited. I’d never been able to get Time Machine to work reliably with it. And something had changed so that, even though I never used its storage features, the hard drive was always spinning loudly. Apple’s $179 AirPort Extreme seemed like overkill. I just needed a wireless router with a few Ethernet ports—no AirTunes, printer sharing, or Back to My Mac. Plus, reviews mentioned that the newer Apple base stations make a high-pitched noise. That would drive me crazy when watching TV.

I ended up getting a $35 Cisco router. I ignored the sketchy looking software on the CD, which promised to copy over the settings from my old router, and just set it up via Safari. So far so good. Download speeds are actually faster than with the Time Capsule.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

Good article — it's nice to think there are options beyond the Apple Basestation (which I'm sure is great but is quite pricey).

Can I just ask, does Bonjour work over the local network using the Cisco router? Does it create a genuine local network, or is it just NAT for the internet? You say you don't want printer sharing and all that Jazz™ but it would be nice…

(Sorry to just pick you brain but Google's not much help and it seems like something you might know — or have a lead on.)


@Carlton Yes, I think Bonjour (a.k.a. Zeroconf) works with all routers. Not sure what you mean about a “genuine local network.”

@Michael - Thanks. I think I'll give it a try.

Re. "Not sure what you mean…" — Probably neither am I :-) — just that computers connected to the router can still communicate even if the WAN is unplugged, i.e. it creates a LAN as well as NAT routing services. (I suspect the answer is just Yes, with a possible "of course" — but I find networks a bit of a dark art.)

Thanks again!

@Carlton Yes, that should work with any router and computer these days.

[…] you didn’t buy from the iTunes Store. Apple’s track record is to remove features from AirPort Utility and QuickTime Player 7 and let the dead versions hang around for years until eventually sunsetting […]

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