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Weird question of the day: Has anyone here configured a real (say five or more client) Firewire network? If so, what were the advantages/headaches? Which Firewire hub (or Firewire switch, if that's the correct term) did you use? What happens if you plug a drive into the network - is it available to any of the client computers (I'm assuming not, but am curious)?

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c'mon, FW is dead. Even it's owner -- Apple stopped using it. – vartec May 24 '09 at 17:29
Well, that's maybe a bit hasty. Apple stopped using it for one product line. If Firewire3200 gets mothballed, I guess we'll know for sure. – username May 24 '09 at 18:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Not sure there are "switches" per se as the topology would require you to chain the computers together, one by one, using two ports in all but the last and first one - subjecting the network to the "single point of failure" problem of old-time coax ethernets.

The distance of a firewire-cable is also very limited at around 5 meters I've heard, before requiring an active repeater.

As you'd run TCP/IP over Firewire (there's an RFC around I think) the firewire disks would be unrelated to the actual network and just work as a locally attached disk on whatever machine it's plugged into. You'd have to share it over the network as usual... I have a hard time seeing the point if the machines in question have ethernet ports ^^

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the point is: because you can! ;-) – username May 24 '09 at 17:37
Well, true, somewhat... nngg... must... resist... having... fun, so hey... where's the business sense?! ^^ damaged by my line of work in IT – Oskar Duveborn May 24 '09 at 18:06
In all seriousness, if Firewire3200 isn't axed, it might be useful - especially if the drives could double as NAS without any configuration (which we agree is doubtful). 3.2Gbps is pretty respectable. – username May 24 '09 at 20:09

I don't think that is a viable solution.

  • Length limitations, as Oskar mentioned above, so you can rule out connecting people in separate rooms
  • Cable break issues. Firewire is a bus, all it takes is one person to unplug a cable, or a device to go offline to cause a netsplit.
  • Non routable. While you can network a bunch of macs together over firewire, how can you connect them to your router. You'd probably have to setup one of the machines with Internet Sharing turned on to bridge between your firewire lan and a small ethernet lan for connectivity.

Sounds like a lot of single points of failure and WTFs. Just use ethernet, and you think you're hitting the limits there is always FCAL.

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