IconGatorBox CS configuration

A Cayman GatorBox serves several important functions on a Macintosh network. First and foremost, it is an AppleTalk router. An AppleTalk router allows AppleTalk devices (such as Macintosh computers, LaserWriters, AppleShare File Servers, etc.) on different networks and/or in different zones to communicate with one another. AppleTalk routing services are critical on networks that have AppleTalk devices on both Ethernet and LocalTalk (or PhoneNet). The GatorBox also provides TCP/IP services to LocalTalk Macs. Additional, less commonly used GatorBox services include DECnet routing (which allows LocalTalk Macs to communicate with DECnet nodes on an Ethernet), UNIX-to-LocalTalk printing (with GatorPrint), and UNIX-based file services for Macs on LocalTalk or Ethernet (with GatorShare).

A bit of history first

I got a used GatorBox CS for US$20 (the person selling it had no idea what it was) but I got just the box, no software, no manual, no cables.

Cayman Systems, now netopia kindly supplied me with links and passwords to the latest system software for the GatorBox CS. I reckon asking nicely won't hurt, as they discontinued this product quite some time ago. (GatorBoxes were sold with three levels of software: GatorSystem, which provides the basic connectivity, GatorPrint, which makes appletalk printers available to lp, and GatorShare, which makes NFS file systems available to macs via appleshare.)

I found a configuration guide at the University of Illinois, this was of great help in understanding what the different options are for, I urge you to read this first.

UPDATE 2005-02-13: I was made aware that the page at University of Illinois is 404. I have asked the fine people from UIUC if they can make the pages availabel again or provide me with an archive to host here. Until I get an answer, please use the Wayback Machine to get the text from their page.

UPDATE 2017-04-09: Look in the 2002 archive.

With some more help from usenet, I was able to gather the following information. (I will hereafter assume that you have obtained the latest version of the software, as I have no experience with older versions and I will also assume that you are able to talk to the GatorBox via GatorKeeper, you have read the guide haven't you?)


When you launch GatorKeeper you will hopefully see a window like the following;


It contains GatorDefaults (used to save or revert default settings by either droping a GotorBox icon over it or dragging it over a GatorBox icon) and all the GatorBoxes found by GatorKeeper. If your GatorBox is not visible, check your zone selection in Lookup in Zone... (in the View menu)

When you double-click your GatorBox a window will open;

GatorBox menu

depending on the GatorBox software you installed, GatorShare and/or GatorPrint might be missing.


TCP/IP allows you to set the IP number under which the GatorBox can be found (you can even telnet to it and configure it that way) and it allows you to give IP numbers on the LocalTalk network via the GatorBox.

TCP/IP settings
TCP/IP option
switch TCP/IP on or off.
IP address
the IP address of the Gator Box. I use as IP number in my digs network (see RFC???? for address ranges for internal use).
Broadcast address
enter the broadcast address for your network. Normally the broadcast address should be This address is called a local wire broadcast.
Subnet mask
enter your network's subnet mask here.
Default gateway address
if you have a default gateway on your TCP/IP network enter it here.
Syslog host address
if you want the log messages from the GatorBox to be sent to a syslogd on a UNIX box enter it's IP address here. See "man syslog.conf" for more info. (this does not work here, if you have successfully used this feature with a RedHat 5.0 Box, please let me know.
Accept/Broadcast RIP packets
RIP is the "Routing Information Protocol" an old form of updating routing information.


MacIP is used to provide IP numbers on your LocalTalk network, I do not use this feature yet.

AppleTalk Routing

AppleTalk routing will allow you to merge a LocalTalk and a EtherTalk network.

AppleTalk settings

There are three different seed settings:
router gets its network information by reading its own internal configuration file.
soft seed
router waits a specified period of time to get its zone and network number information from another router. If information is not available from another router, a soft seed router then uses its own internal configuration, like a seed router.
non seed
router gets its zone and network number information from another router. If information is not available from another router, a non seed router will not route through the non seed port.

When there are two or more routers attached to the same LocalTalk or Ethernet segment, the routers must agree on zone and network number information. In such cases, typically one router is configured as a seed router and the remaining routers are configured as soft seed or non seed.

The LocalTalk Network Number is used to identify the zone the GatorBox is in. Anything from 1 to 64280. It must be unique on your network (especially different from the EtherTalk network number).

Zone Name is the name you want to give to the LocalTalk zone, in my case HouseNet Local Talk

Phase 1 EtherTalk is not in use anymore (very old Macs might require it).

One Phase 2 EtherTalk network is sufficient for 253 nodes, if you need more, just enter a higher end number.

Zone List...


Enter all the zones you wish to add on EtherTalk and select the default zone.

DECnet Routing

I have never used DECnet, if you have information on these settings please drop me a note.

SNMP Configuration

The gatorbox can easily be accessed bryt SNMP. Set a community string different from the default (doh!) and the use either MRTG, RRDtool, net-snmp or one of the many commercial tools.

I use it with mrtg, it is automatically recognized by cfgmaker and should be with other tools as well. The standard mibs of ucd-snmp (predecessor to net-snmp) name most variables, use snmpwalk to list them.

GatorPrint Printers

GatorPrint allows you to access your AppleTalk printer via LPR (e.g. from a Linux machine)

GatorPrint settings
Printer LPR Name
enter the name under which you want to access the printer via LPR, plw320 in my case.
AppleTalk Printer Name
the name under which the printer is known under AppleTalk.
AppleTalk Printer Type
the type of the printer (duh).
AppleTalk Printer Zone
the name of the zone the printer is in.

Click Add after you have entered all the settings.

GatorShare Servers

GatorShare allows you to access NFS exported volumes as AppleShare volumes, it only supports NIS, not NIS+, it appears that it has problems with MacOS 8 and shadow passwords, so I continue using netatalk on my Linux box.

Website at Cayman

Cayman Systems had a website with information and software for legacy products. But cayman.com is now something completely different and I cannot find any reference to the GatorBox on the netopia site. If you find something of interest, please let me know.

Resetting a GatorBox

Here is some information on how to reset a GatorBox. Use this only as a last resort and at your own risk. Two readers confirmed that the procedure works. You'll have to reinstall all the software on the Gatorbox afterwards of course.

Connect serial cable from serial port of gatorbox to phone port of a mac.
Run Kermit or other communications program and set up for 9600 baud.
Set switch on back of Gatorbox to test position.
Turn on gatorbox, a menu should appear on mac.
Select 2-individual tests Type 923 at prompt "Phoebe welcomes you" should appear
At Phoebe> prompt, type zero <cr> to clear parameter memory.
Type exit to return to normal diag menu

This clears EVERYTHING.

After this you need to reinstall the OS (firmware?) on the GatorBox with Gator Installer.

Some settings will only take effect if you restart the GatorBox, when in doubt, restart it via the Control menu.

The GatorBox and LPRng

The Gatorbox expects that the data files be sent first, followed by the control file. See the LPRng FAQ, Job disappears and is never printed, but lpr works.

You need to change the order as LPRng will by default send the control file first.

Set the send_data_first flag in the printcap for the particular printer, or in the lpd.conf configuration file. This is:

:send_data_first: (printcap)
send_data_first (lpd.conf)

The GatorBox and cups

The Gatorbox expects that the data files be sent first, followed by the control file. See the LPRng FAQ.

cups versions up to 1.1.6 will not allow you to change that order in the configuration. A request for that setting has been submitted.

up to version 1.1.6
If you want to use cups, you need to change the source and recompile cups, have a look at the code in backend/lpd.c, specifically the "lpd_queue()" function. You should be able to reverse the order there without any ill effects (note, however, that some hosts demand the files in the other order...)
version 1.1.7 and following
The option to change the order of the control and data file will be available in CUPS 1.1.7:

The GatorBox software

With the help of Jamie A. Cadorette, the following statement was obtained from Netopia:

Netopia, Inc. acquired Cayman after its Gatorbox product had been discontinued.

Netopia, Inc. decided to continue the existing policy of Cayman toward the Gatorbox, which was to provide no support of any kind whatsoever, nor to interfere in any peer-based exchange of information or public resources, such as existing firmware.

All modifications, distributions or configurations of the Gatorbox or its firmware are undertaken at the sole risk of the involved parties, and Netopia, Inc., explicitly disclaims any responsibility for any such actions.

As such, you can now download the software here.

UPDATE 2017-04-09: you will need to decode the BinHex (.hqx) file and then unpack the resulting StuffIt (.sit) file. Back in the days, when I still used my gatorbox, I did all this on a MacOS 6 or 7 machine. These days I do not have a Mac any more. The BinHex file is a text file and thus easy to transfer to the target Mac without curruption.

Inside the GatorBox

If you want to have a go at the insides of your gatorbox, you may find the following information useful. This is of course at your own risk!

You can change the serial number by putting a jumper on jp1 "PROM WREN".

You can also expand the buffer memory to at least 2mb by putting in different 30 pin simms. 120 nsec seems to be fast enough.

Special thanks to:
Cayman Systems (now netopia)
for providing me with all the necessary software to run my GatorBox.
John Doherty
for his knowledge and patience, if it wasn't for him I'd never really understood the GatorBox and this file would not exist
Tony Stuckey
for his answer to my cry for help on comp.sys.mac.comm.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
for making their GatorBox configuration documentation awailable to the whole world.
Easy Software Products
for the information in how to fiddle with cups until they have included the functionality to configure the order of files sent.
Philip Stortz
for the information on changing the serial number and the memory configuration.
Jamie A. Cadorette
For obtaining the permission to distribute the software from Netopia.
Fuxue Jin
For digging out the most recent copy of the Gator software.
Tony Jeffries
For confirming that the parameter RAM clearing works.

Some of this text is ripped as-is from these sources

If you write me mail, please include a valid return address. (you know who you are at liveevil)

All trademarks belong to their respective holders.

Last modification 2018-04-28 by pcfe