Timbuktu Goes Native

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For tech support pros and server administrators, there's no more-important tool than Timbuktu. Netopia's networking utility lets users control Macs remotely, exchange files easily, and collaborate between remote locales.That capability has been missing from OS X. But Netopia says that help is on the way. The company announced a preview release Wednesday of Timbuktu Pro 6.0 for Mac OS X; a finished version should ship later this year.

Taking a page from Apple's Mac OS X beta playbook, Netopia isn't giving the Timbuktu preview release away for free. Instead, the company is charging $30 for the software-$55 for a twin-pack. The release is available only as a download from Netopia's online store.

Like Apple's beta pricing policy, the $30 you're giving Netopia won't buy you the finished product-you'll still need to pay an upgrade fee when the final Timbuktu 6.0 comes out. However, Netopia says the net cost of buying the preview release and the upgrade will be either the same or less than if you waited and only bought the regular upgrade.

The Timbuktu 6.0 preview release will only run on Mac OS X, but the final version will run on both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9. The current version doesn't support connecting via AppleTalk or remote dial-in, though Netopia says that both features will be back when the final version ships. That version will come 30 days after Apple puts out a maintenance release that gives Netopia engineers the pieces of the puzzle they need to enable the AppleTalk and remote dial-in features; Netopia expects the maintenance release to arrive this summer.

Timbuktu 6.0 takes advantage of Apple's new "package" file format-the application installs as a single file rather than a series of files scattered throughout your system. This version also takes advantage of Mac OS X's system of file permissions to ensure that a person logging in via Timbuktu has appropriate access to files and folders on the remote system.

Timbuktu 6.0 offers the same old Timbuktu interface -- but this time, it's running inside Mac OS X.

Other new or improved features in Timbuktu 6.0 include support for extremely large files, a new HTML-based help system, some security improvements, the ability to send a Force Quit command to remote Mac OS X systems, and improvements to Timbuktu's screen-drawing engine.

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