Toppling the Tower of Babel

6th January 1995 at 00:00
Steve Holroyd untangles a cross-network software web.

Many schools now possess different types of computer and want networks which cater for all their computers. To topple this technological Tower of Babel, Acorn is to release a product called OmniClient, which allows any Acorn Archimedes computer to make use of the facilities of non-Acorn fileservers, with full password control, across Ethernet networks.

The initial release will support connections to a range of network types - NT Server, Lan Manager (enabling links to RM networks), Windows for Workgroups and NFS (Unix) systems - as well as the integration of current Acorn network server systems. A later update is expected to allow connectivity to NetWare and AppleTalk. It thus becomes feasible for a single school network to support all the computer types found in education.

A whole range of Acorn network products is being released at the same time. Access Release 2 contains all the necessary components for a simple peer-to-peer network system, including Ethernet card, cabling and connectors. A simple Access network would consist of a computer with a hard disc plus a number of other computers which, when linked, can share that hard disc, loading and saving files from it as appropriate.

Access+ offers all the facilities of Access Release 2 with the addition of more security features and the ability to use CD-Rom across a large cross-site network. Whereas Access Release 2 is supplied with cabling and connectors for thin Ethernet cabling (10base2), Access+ leaves the choice of Ethernet system to the purchaser.

It is increasingly common for schools to install twisted-pair Ethernet (10baseT), and Acorn has seen the wisdom of catering for this. The additional security features, including password control, make Access+ a more suitable system for secondary schools where the integrity of shared files can be a problem. Intertalk is a product which will provide electronic mail (e-mail) facilities for Acorn A-series computers, both on-site and off-site, through the Internet system of international computer networks.

New fileserver software being developed by Digital Services and called Nucleus can be regarded to all intents and purposes as a "Level 5", though it is far more than that. It incorporates a new filing system which is similar to ADFS but allows new features such as long filenames (overcoming the 10-character limit), access to very large capacity hard discs and additional file attributes enabling files to be set as "execute only" (ie, they may not be copied to a user's disc).

In addition to the CD-Rom sharing facilities incorporated in the new Access products, CD Server (Digital Services) and CDNet (Cumana) allow the accessing of CD-Rom across standard networks. The speed of these systems is impressive as they use both disc and memory caches to offer users the maximum performance.

Acorn - stands 241, 440, SN15

Cumana - stands 343, SN21

Digital Services - stand 441

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