The most problematic platform for network implementation appears to be the Microsoft platform. At present, we are not aware of any software tools that provide a 32 bit TCP/IP stack (we should note here that we were at a bit of a handicap since our technical support person from Microsoft could not be present). This functionality is supposed to be included in Windows 95 when it is released, but it was not yet available at the time of the workshop (though a beta version has been subsequently released and Roger and Tom have obtained copies).
Microsoft has decided to promote its own rpc standards, which are incompatible with existing standards supported by Sun. Therefore it was decided that we should develop our own code for converting data types into a consistent byte ordering for communication between incompatible hardware types.
Roger had originally recommended that we purchase the TCP/IP software provided by the Distinct company, as they intended to release a 32 bit TCP/IP stack with a compatible rcp system. Distinct charges a $100 per CPU run-time license fee for the software that we would ship that incorporates their tools. Given that we intend to sell network Tierra executables for around $50, with the profits going to a rain forest project in Costa Rica, this creates a conflict. However, the Distinct corporation agreed to provide the run-time licenses as a charitable contribution to the rain forest project. The Nature Conservancy agreed to provide Distinct with a tax write-off for the contribution. However, the reason Roger had recommended using the Distinct TCP/IP stack rather than the Windows 95 stack is that Distinct would have a compatible rpc system. In view of the impending rpc wars, and our decision to write our own rpc functions, it was decided to abandon the Distinct deal and go with Windows 95. Tom has sent our apologies and thanks to Distinct, and informed the Nature Conservancy of the decision.
The Windows 95 situation is still not clear. For example, could we work with a 16 bit TCP/IP stack? Will Microsoft provide an SDK for TCP/IP along with Windows 95? We hope that The Microsoft support person will be willing and able to clear up some of these issues for us.
Joseph conferred with the Amiga homeboys on the net and was told that all the necessary software tools for implementing network communications are available. He has subsequently obtained ``AmiTCP'' and installed it on his machine.
Matt explained that the Mac used a very different method of network access than the other platforms. However, subsequent to the workshop, he found that there is a library called GUSI (Grand Unified Sockets Interface) for the Mac that provides a sockets frontend for a lot of the Mac OS calls, effectively making sockets work on the Mac. Matt has the library and it looks reasonably well done and clean to use. The library is freely distributable with our software with some caveats about license inclusion and other matters. The version Matt has is a Beta version for CodeWarrior (the real release works with MPW and Think) that should be released with the CodeWarrior 6 release in May (at which point it will be distributable).
Jeremy said that the Linux version appears to be fully network capable in its present state.