Apple Internet Routing in 2024

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Being an AppleTalk Network Admin is hard work in 2024. This hopefully helps level some of the rough edges that are out there. I’ll be updating it with more info and corrections as time permits.

This post will go over some of the configs I have in my own AIR, a Quadra 800 that has been working for the better part of a week now.

First some nomenclature:

AppleTalk, LocalTalk and EtherTalk

EtherTalk and AppleTalk are both networking protocols developed by Apple, but they have some key differences:

Physical Layer:

AppleTalk: It is a proprietary protocol suite that was originally designed to work over a variety of physical media, including LocalTalk (using serial ports and special cables), TokenTalk (using Token Ring networks), and PhoneNet (using telephone cables).
EtherTalk: It is an implementation of AppleTalk that runs over Ethernet networks, which use coaxial cables, twisted pair cables, or fiber optics.


AppleTalk: The speed of AppleTalk networks varies depending on the physical media used. LocalTalk operates at 230.4 kbps, while TokenTalk can reach speeds of 4 or 16 Mbps.
EtherTalk: Since EtherTalk runs on Ethernet, it can support speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, or even higher with more modern Ethernet standards.


AppleTalk: It uses a dynamic addressing system where devices are assigned addresses based on network numbers and node numbers. It also uses named entities called “zones” for easier network navigation.
EtherTalk: While it still uses the AppleTalk addressing scheme, EtherTalk adds support for mapping AppleTalk addresses to Ethernet MAC addresses.


AppleTalk: It is a proprietary protocol suite that was primarily used by Apple devices and some printers.
EtherTalk: By running AppleTalk over Ethernet, EtherTalk enables better compatibility with non-Apple devices and allows integration with existing Ethernet networks.

AIR Under The Covers

AppleTalk Internet Router (AIR) software, also known as AppleTalk-IP, allows AppleTalk protocols to be encapsulated and transmitted over IP networks. This enables EtherTalk networks to communicate with each other across IP-based infrastructure, such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or even the internet.

Here’s how it works:

1. Encapsulation:

  • When an AppleTalk packet needs to be sent over an IP network, the AIR software encapsulates the AppleTalk packet inside a UDP (User Datagram Protocol) packet.
  • The UDP packet, which now contains the AppleTalk data, is then further encapsulated inside an IP packet.

2. Addressing:

  • The AIR software maintains a mapping between AppleTalk addresses and IP addresses.
  • When a device on an EtherTalk network wants to communicate with a device on another EtherTalk network across an IP network, the AIR software translates the AppleTalk address to the corresponding IP address.

3. Routing:

  • The IP packet containing the encapsulated AppleTalk data is then routed through the IP network using standard IP routing protocols.
  • The AIR software on the receiving end of the IP network extracts the AppleTalk packet from the UDP and IP packets and delivers it to the destination EtherTalk network.

4. UDP Usage:

  • UDP is used as the transport protocol because it provides a lightweight, connectionless service that is suitable for the relatively small AppleTalk packets.
  • UDP does not provide reliability or error correction, but AppleTalk has its own mechanisms for ensuring reliable delivery when needed.

By using AIR software and UDP encapsulation, EtherTalk networks can communicate over IP networks, allowing AppleTalk devices to be connected across different locations and enabling integration with modern IP-based networks. When you enter in the address of other participants from the GoogleSheet for #GlobalTalk you are making those connections that the AIR will use to locate network resources at the remote locations.

My Configs

Once you have installed the required packages you need to configure your…

Network Control Panel:

Picture 2_4.
(ignore the Zone info- when you first setup there won’t be any zone info yet)


Notice that in Paul’s posting, “Configure your Mac” Step 4 he is incorrect! You do choose EtherTalk for the Network Control Panel. I think he meant that statement for the MacTCP Control Panel, where as you see below, you do choose Ethernet. Just double check this if you have followed his directions and are having issues….

And MacTCP Control Panel:

Pick a static IP address in your Local LAN that you will use for your AIR host. Make sure that address is not inside any DHCP range configured on your router! You will punch the UDP 387 hole thru your Router/Firewall to this IP address you assign to your AIR host:

Picture 3_4.

Click on More…

Most networks you create, or are created by your router/firewall are a /24, CIDR Class C space. That gives you 254 IP addresses you can use for devices. It should be enough. You need to configure MacTCP for this Class C, supply the Gateway IP (the IP of your router/firewall- almost always .1) and include a DNS resolver so that you can use host names for things.


Are two open DNS resolvers that I use so that you don’t have to tell Google about every host you visit….

Picture 4_4.

With those configured (you will have to reboot) you should be able to open the Router Manager and configure your Zones. Remember to just name all your seeded Zones the same exact name and you’ll have an easier time finding your resources and sharing them.

My Next Post will go over the setup and use of the Apple IP Gateway, which allows Macintosh systems on Local or Ethertalk to use IP networking via the IP Gateway!

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