Lantastic 95-- a good choice for small networks
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1996. First
published in Computer Player, June 1996
10 Carlson Court, Suite 590
Etobicoke, Ontario M9W 6L2
$189 (suggested list) ?single copy
$669 ? 5 users
$470 ? 2 user kit including network adapters
$100 ? upgrade from DOS/Windows versions
Artisoft Inc.?s Lantastic networking software has long
been a favorite
among business and home users needing to set up a small network. Only a
few diskettes, a bit of RAM and hard drive space, quick and easy to set
up. Unlike the big-time corporate networks, users didn?t need to set
a computer as a dedicated server; Lantastic let users create
networks, where computers could simultaneously act as servers and
A few years ago, when Microsoft released Windows for
peer-to-peer networking built right into that operating environment,
were fears that this would eat away at Lantastic?s market? fears that
increased as Windows 95 added even more native networking features.
Artisoft?s recent release of Lantastic for Windows 95,
demonstrated that there are still reasons to add onto that operating
Lantastic-95 comes on a CD-ROM disk, which includes
the networking software
and the reference manual?as seems to be the trend these days, only a
printed beginners manual is included. (The software can be obtained on
diskette, minus the manual?and a printed copy of the manual can be
for an additional $39.95 US).
Like earlier versions of the software, it is a quick
and easy install,
making it easy to set up a basic network. As with the earlier versions,
computers can be set up as either a combination server/workstations, or
as workstations alone. Resources can be set on servers as shareable.
are easily controlled using the Lantastic Control Panel?which is a
mini-program, not installed as part of the main Win 95 Control Panel.
that if other Win 95 networking components are previously installed,
will need to follow installation instructions carefully? you have to
previously-installed components in exactly the order specified for
While Windows 95?s built-in peer-to-peer networking
can connect to NT
or Windows for Workgroups machines, it cannot be used to connect
to Windows 3.1 or DOS machines (except using the now hard-to-find $49
DOS Workgroup Connection software). Lantastic-95 can be used to connect
to other machines running Lantastic version 5.0 or later (including the
low-cost Simply Lantastic version)? that means it can be used in a
including DOS, Windows, and OS/2 computers, as well as Win 95 machines.
Of course, your DOS and Win 3.1 machines won?t be able to view long
names on your Win 95 machines.
As well, Windows 95 offers very little security; while
it can be set
up to appear to require a password at startup, users can bypass that by
simply pressing Escape (!). Microsoft seems to imply that users
any sort of security should upgrade their hardware and software to
NT? their big-time networking operating system.
Lantastic 95, in contrast, offers many levels of
or groups can have privileges for varying combinations of file reading,
writing, creating, deletion, and more? for drives, folders, or
files. If you prefer, servers can allow free and open access? no
There are some limitations, however. Lantastic doesn?t
make use of the
Windows 95 Device Manager to configure networking cards, for example,
recognizes far fewer adapters than Win 95. Your old ArcNet cards can?t
be used, for example. The best bet is probably to set yourself up with
the inexpensive and widely available NE-2000 clone adapters.
It uses NetBIOS and NetBEUI networking protocols,
rather than the newer
IPX/SPX. TCP/IP support is limited, unless you purchase a pricy ($299
per user) add-on.
When Artisoft first announced this product last Fall,
they claimed that
it would include an optional non-DOS file system, building on Win 95?s
Installable File System. This announcement excited many power-users,
of Windows 95?s reliance on the old DOS FAT file system, while both
and NT offered more modern file systems. Unfortunately, this feature
to have quietly vanished from the shipping version.
If you only need to connect Windows 95 machines or Win
95 and Windows
for Workgroups or NT machines, and don?t have any security
you can stick with Win 95?s built-in peer-to-peer networking. But if
need to connect a more diverse mix of hardware and operating systems,
if you find Win 95?s security inadequate?but don?t want the time or
involved in setting up a big-time Netware or NT network, get Lantastic