MacBook: Update on AppleTalk over AirPort problem

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 31st, 2006 • 1:16 pm

This is an update regarding the problem with the MacBook (not MacBook Pro) being unable to see AppleTalk printers over AirPort with an older Graphite AirPort Base Station.

According to this Apple tech note, MacBook Pro laptops were affected by the same issue, and it was allegedly fixed in the 10.4.6 system software update.

However, my brand new MacBook is running 10.4.6 (that’s what came with it), and is still affected by the problem.

What is unclear is whether the problem now only affects MacBooks or still affects MacBook Pro laptops as well, but only with older Graphite AirPort Base Stations. In other words, it is quite possible that Apple fixed the problem in 10.4.6 for AppleTalk over AirPort Extreme (802.11g), but neglected to fix the problem for AppleTalk over standard AirPort (802.11b). Given that the old Graphite AirPort Base Station is now officially an obsolete piece of hardware (or rather a “vintage” product, although the difference between the two categories is not clear), it wouldn’t be all that surprising—even though 802.11b hardware (both Apple and third-party) is still very much in use in many network setups.

As per usual, at the same time I posted about this problem on Betalogue, I also submitted a bug report to Apple through the Bug Reporter page, with a clear reference to the tech note mentioned above and the fact that the bug was not fixed in 10.4.6 on a MacBook with a Graphite ABS.

Well, last night I got a response from Apple regarding this bug report. The e-mail was a generic “Your Attention Needed” kind of e-mail, which asked me to send them a complete system profile of the MacBook. I sent them the system profile right away.

What conclusions can be drawn from this? Well, at least Apple is not dismissing the bug report outright. This might indicate that, even though the Graphite AirPort Base Station is no longer supported, they are still interested in investigating the bug and fixing it, obviously because it might still affect a fairly large number of people.

On the other hand, it could also simply be that they didn’t read my bug report carefully enough and need the system profile to realize that I am talking about AppleTalk with an old Graphite AirPort Base Station here. Once they realize this (if they haven’t already), they might still decide that the hardware is no longer supported and that they won’t do anything about it.

But the picture that is starting to emerge here is that this was a bug that initially affected all flavours of AirPort with Intel-based laptops, and that they fixed the bug in 10.4.6 with AirPort Extreme, but neglected to test their bug fix properly with Graphite AirPort Base Stations, so the bug still affects those. I cannot be sure of this, because I don’t have access to a MacBook Pro with 10.4.6 to see if it can see my AppleTalk printers, and I haven’t yet received the AirPort Extreme base station that I ordered last week to see if my MacBook can see the AppleTalk printers with it. (The base station was shipped yesterday, however.)

But I have a pretty strong suspicion that this is exactly what happened. If so, then there might be a reasonably good chance that Apple will eventually fix the problem for older Graphite AirPort Base Stations as well. I cannot be sure of this, of course, and we’ll only find out if they have decided to do so when it actually happens. But at least there is some hope.

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