FireSock is the newest member of the modem sharing class, yet the technology used in the client is one of the oldest and most commonly used technologies on the Internet. Many experienced ‘net users are familiar with Trumpet Winsock as the connection of choice back in the Windows 3.x days (albeit by default — there were not many alternatives back then). Although the integrated DUN capabilities of Windows 95/98 have largely supplanted the need for Trumpet Winsock, the new FireSock client allows the Trumpet Winsock technology to live on and is a great choice for sharing a modem and Internet connection over a small network.
One advantage of FireSock is that almost any client node can be accommodated, from PCs and Macs to UNIX machines. As long as the workstation has a TCP/IP stack running (Trumpet Winsock or otherwise), FireSock can allow it to share the modem and Internet connection of a host computer. FireSock works on top of your TCP/IP stack, so if you’re using a client like the Microsoft DUN utility, you don’t need to worry about FireSock replacing it or interfering with it. Help documentation is more than sufficient, and setting up the client is relatively easy. And while not the most attractive of interfaces, the FireSock interface will be familiar to long-time users of Trumpet Winsock.
Many experienced ‘net users are familiar with Trumpet Winsock as the connection of choice back in the Windows 3.
FireSock provides full access to most major Internet applications and resources including the Web, e-mail, FTP, telnet, IRC and news services. Among its many features, FireSock can act as a transparent IP level firewall that easily transfers incoming connections (allowing for Web or FTP servers to be served from your network), configures local clients’ IP addresses by acting as a BOOTP server (alleviating the need for each node to have its own IP address), and logs all network activity. FireSock can also act as a basic router by routing packets from the Internet to the proper nodes on your LAN.
If cost is a major factor in your purchasing decision, FireSock is likely to be the best alternative if you have a network of five or more users. The cost of the client begins at $50 for two users and scales up to $180 for a 20-user license — only $9 per user! There are several drawbacks that keep FireSock from being more competitive with the likes of MidPoint and WinGate. First, the client supports analog modems only, so if you want to share a leased line, ISDN line, or cable modem you’ll need to consider one of the other choices.
FireSock also lacks MidPoint’s teaming capabilities — only one modem can be shared at a time — so you won’t be able to aggregate several modems together to achieve higher ‘net speeds. Aside from these and a few other minor caveats, if you’re looking for a low-cost solution for sharing a single analog modem connection over a LAN, Trumpet FireSock definitely merits considerable attention.
Pros: Cost-efficient option for sharing a single modem connection over a LAN, solid feature-set
Cons: Lacks some features in the competition, esp. modem teaming; restricted to analog modems
New: This is the initial review for Trumpet FireSock
Version Reviewed: 1.0 Revision C