Lantastic 7.0-- More satisfying, less filling
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Canadian Computer Wholesaler, November 1996
Is it finally ?The Year of the Network?? It seems like
started declaring it National Network Year (or whatever), sometime way
back in the late 1980s, with the hype continuing nonstop ever since.
More despite the hype than because of it, more and
more networks have
sprouted up ever since? now growing beyond local area networks to
to the Internet?the biggest wide area network of them all. And like
software, networking software has gained in features. Once, networks
shared services like printers, and room to store files on a central
drive. Add e-mail. Add security. Add workgroup scheduling. Run
on the server. Collaborate on projects. Finally, try video conferencing
across the notebook.
Of course, as our demands on the network increase, we
sophisticated software. But that means more complexity?systems that are
increasingly difficult to set up, administer, and keep up and running.
Artisoft, is an Arizona company whose core product,
Lantastic, has been
providing simple networking since even before the first ?Year of the
As Microsoft has added basic networking features into its operating
starting with Windows for Workgroups, and continuing with Windows 95,
has been forced to scramble to survive?on the one hand, adding features
that added value beyond what Microsoft was throwing in for free, while
on the other hand, remaining relatively simple to set up and configure.
With their newest version, Lantastic 7.0, they?ve
pretty much succeeded.
A single package includes versions for Windows 95,
Windows 3.1 users,
and even DOS only machines? and users of these various versions can all
connect onto a single network. (OS/2 users have their own version of
which can connect along with the other versions, but is not yet updated
to version 7.0) As well, users of the new version can work on the same
network with users of earlier versions 5.0 and 6.0.
Installation of any version is simple?users should
know what sort of
networking adapter is installed, and its IRQ and I/O setting; Artisoft
includes drivers for a wide variety of common adapters. As well, users
should choose a name for each machine, and need to make a fundamental
a machine be installed as a workstation or a server?
Like Windows 95 or Windows for Workgroups, Lantastic
can be set up as
a peer-to-peer network?machines can all function as servers, sharing
and hard drives with the rest of the network. Performance will improve,
however, if a single machine is used as a dedicated server?allowing
machines to share its resources such as hard drives, printers, CD-ROM?s
and more. When run that way, the server doesn?t need to be a real
an old, unused 386 as a print server can adequately serve a small to
Lantastic can also be used to connect onto bigger
Novell systems are included.
As in previous versions, after installation, network
working within Windows or from DOS-based utilities, can set a variety
levels of access, ranging from open access without log-in or passwords,
to any desired combination of user and workgroup access levels. For
users, these security features alone make the product a worthwhile
over the anemic protection provided by the built-in Microsoft
The big addition, however, is the result of Artisoft?s
purchase of InSync
ModemShare. This technology now allows Lantastic servers to share
across the network. Suddenly, a single 28.8 modem and phone line can be
made accessible to all the workstations in an office. With the addition
of included TCP/IP stacks, each machine could then connect to the
(And with the possibility of multiple servers, multiple modems can be
available for sharing).
Even more impressive, multiple machines can share a
address?making it possible for several workstations to use the Internet
at the same time, using a single modem (or faster) connection on the
server, and a single Internet account. (Note: this feature is only
on Windows 95 installations).
?Aha!?, I hear your cry??What about bandwidth??. Can
you really have
several users sharing a single, modem-based Internet connection without
slowing to a crawl?
Well, it?s not as bad as you?d imagine. Most often,
when users are accessing
the Internet, they are only actually connecting to another machine in
bursts? the rest of the time, users are reading the downloaded pages,
actually being connected. As a result, two or three users can share a
modem line without noticing it too much. (Of course, as the number of
increases, the possibility of conflict also increases?I?d hate to
all 16 workstations on my Lantastic network all trying to use the
28.8 modem at once). Artisoft recommends getting an ISDN or faster line
if you want five or more simultaneous Web surfers.
Artisoft sells Lantastic in new user and upgrade
versions, and in single
licenses, 10-license, and unlimited installation versions. Costs range
from $99 for a single upgrade ($169 for a new user), through $699 for
10-pack, to $1,399 for the unlimited-user version.
With increasing interest from small businesses and
even home users in
setting up small networks, and especially with increased interest in
multiple machines to the Internet, Lantastic 7.0 should find a ready
with its easy support for a mix of DOS, Windows, Win 95, and even OS/2
Vendors and consultants hoping to provide ready-to-use
systems for these
clients should consider becoming familiar with Lantastic, and perhaps
it as an option on their systems. It fills a vital niche for users for
whom Microsoft?s built-in networking is too basic, but Novell Netware
too intimidating, expensive, or complex.
Artisoft-Canada is in Etobicoke, Ontario, and can be
reached at 1-800-756-2763.