If you have cable modem or DSL service, you’re a very lucky individual. Not only do you benefit from great speed when surfing the Web or processing email, but your connection is on full-time. You never have to wait for some modem to dial (screeching all the way), and wait again for it to disconnect. Too bad only one computer in your household or office can enjoy these luxuries.
Actually, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can spread the joy of high-speed Internet to every Mac (and PC) on your network in either of two ways:
Buy a router. A router (sometimes called a residential gateway) is a little box, costing about $50, that connects directly to the cable modem or DSL box. In most cases, it doubles as a hub, providing multiple Internet jacks into which you can plug your Macs and PCs. As a bonus, a router provides excellent security, serving as a firewall to keep out unsolicited visits from hackers on the Internet. (If you use a router, turn off Mac OS X’s own firewall, as described previously in this chapter.)
Use Internet Sharing. Panther’s Internet Sharing feature is the software version of a router, in that it distributes a single Internet signal to every computer on the network. But unlike a router, it’s free. You just fire it up on the one Mac that’s connected directly to the Internet—the gateway computer. (The Internet Sharing feature is also responsible for Mac OS X’s software base station feature for AirPort Macs, as described in Section 18.8.1.)
But there’s ...