Lantastic 6.0-- great system for small networks
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1995. First
published in Our Computer Player, November 1995
2202 N. Forbes Blvd..
Tucson, AZ 85745 USA
$119 (US list) for 1 node, $499 (US) for five nodes
You've got to feel a little sorry for Artisoft... for
years, their Lantastic
Network Operating System, now in version 6.0, has been the best-selling
example of a small network-- a network for small businesses, schools,
homes... anyone with from two to two dozen or so machines to tie
but not needing the expense and complication of a big, server-based
like Novell Netware.
Tieing together over 2.7 million machines last year,
Lantastic has successfully
survived competition from networking giant Novell, who clearly aimed
Lite version at the small networks that have been Lantastic's strength.
Lantastic version 6.0 is a bigger program than the
which came on a single 3 1/2" diskette. It adds Windows (3.1) utilities
and installation, accounting for much of the added bulk. Installing
you can choose to set up each machine as either a Server or a
Servers share their drives, and optionally resources such as printers,
across the network... workstations can use resources on servers, but do
not share their own resources; a simple network could set each machine
as a server, but setting up a machine that way requires a larger DOS
file than setting it up as a workstation. In either case, the ram
is relatively small, compared to other networks.
Because you can set each machine up to share files and
with the network, Lantastic is an example of a peer-to-peer network.
is in contrast to the big networks, such as Netware, that have a
file server, which provides services to a large number of passive
Lantastic offers file sharing, and easy sharing of
printing and cd-roms
across the network, an obvious benefit for many small offices, and even
some homes with multiple computers. In addition, it provides optional
across the network, and scheduling. In a business environment,
mini-networks can be connected to Netware and Windows-based servers, at
a cost of additional conventional ram. In addition, there are strong
features... you can set up multiple levels of access, providing users
abilities to write, create, or modify files in different directories on
the server's drives.
As well, it includes its share of frills... users with
for example, can record voice messages, and send them across the
While Lantastic is DOS-based, it works well under
Windows 3.1, including
a full collection of Windows utilities, both for controlling the
and for e-mail, scheduling and other functions.
Because Lantastic is aimed at small networks,
primarily in smaller businesses,
it has to be usable by companies that lack a trained and dedicated
Manager, as you'll often find babysitting the big corporate networks.
it pretty much succeeds. If you have no networking background, you
should look through the documentation before diving in and installing
software, but everything is pretty well-explained; there's "A Basic
to Everyday Networking", as well as a bigger reference manual.
phone support is good-- though you have to pay for the long distance
Everything I've mentioned sounds good... so why should
we be feeling
sorry for Artisoft?
The big problem isn't with Lantastic-- it works as
advertised, and fills
a useful market niche. In many ways, however, this niche is
before their eyes. Starting with Windows for Workgroups, basic
networking has been included in many users' operating environment.
If you bought Windows for Workgroups for the speed
increase in 32-bit
File Access, you got peer-to-peer networking at the same time. And if
upgrade either that version of standard Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, you
get peer-to-peer networking whether you need it or not.
Lantastic provides superior security, more options for
files and directories, and fancier print sharing options than either
for Workgroups, or Windows 95. But that distinction may not mean much
many potential customers.... Before, if you wanted a simple network,
had to buy a dedicated network program-- and in most cases, that meant
Lantastic. But now, the basic networking provided right in the
system package may prove enough for many users.
Artisoft has promised a Windows 95 version in a few
months-- it's currently
being beta tested. And they have promised that it will include an
file system-- perhaps answering one complaint many power users have had
about Win95... it's continued reliance on the antiquated DOS FAT file
Certainly, this will provide more features than Windows 95's core
We'll have to see whether that's enough to allow Artisoft to maintain
position as the most commercially successful small networking software.
If you're sticking to DOS or Windows 3.1 for the
and you want to share computer resources around the office or small
the purchase of a few ethernet cards and copies of Lantastic may be a
solution... but if you're planning an upgrade to Windows 95, you may
that meets your needs.