Apple to release Rendezvous as open source

Apple Computer will release the source code for Rendezvous to the open source community in early September, the company said in an interview Thursday. Rendezvous is Apple's implementation of the ZeroConf standard documented by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the group responsible for defining Internet standards.

First documented in the late 1990s by the IETF and sponsored by Apple, Rendezvous is a zero configuration technology that brings together Internet IP standards and LAN networks. Using Rendezvous, devices such as printers can be seen on a network with no setup from the end user.

"We're taking the ease of use of LAN-based networking and marrying it with the standardization and all the benefits of the Internet," Brian Croll, Apple's senior director software, Worldwide Product Marketing, told MacCentral. "Rendezvous covers the whole networking problem of setting up an adhoc network where there is no server with IP standards."

Apple announced at last month's Macworld Expo & Conference -- where the company first showed a demo of the technology -- that Epson America Inc., Hewlett Packard Co. and Lexmark International Inc. would all develop products supporting the Rendezvous technology.

While the ZeroConf standard is available in the open source community, until now, a working implementation of the standard has not been available.

"The DNS responder, the piece that broadcasts the name of a device, is particularly useful on other platforms -- it's something a printer vendor could take and run it on their device to advertise itself on a network," said Ernest Prabhakar, product line manager development platforms, Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple. "We are releasing that piece of source code, that is very useful cross-platform, separately as part of an open source project under the name of Rendezvous. People that want to adopt Rendezvous technology in their product can easily use that and adopt it."

While printer vendors have already pledged their support for Rendezvous, the technology is not limited to hardware alone. In fact, Apple has implemented the technology in iChat, the company's AIM compatible chat application included with Jaguar. Apple hopes to jumpstart the adoption of Rendezvous by releasing the source code of their implementation to the open source community.

"What we would like to see happen is for companies to embed this into their devices," said Croll. "It's been relatively difficult to setup an IP network, so we're really attacking a big problem out there by allowing people to build devices that can be put together in an adhoc network."

Rendezvous is not Apple's first foray into the open source community -- with the release of Mac OS X, Apple became the largest vendor of Unix in the world. Darwin, a core component of Mac OS X, is currently available from Apple's open source Web site, as is Darwin Streaming Server, HeaderDoc and others.

"Apple's done a good job of working with the community and involving ourselves with the community very deeply," said Croll. "Jordan [Hubbard] coming on board as well as a number of others has been key."

Rendezvous and Darwin 6.0 and OpenDirectory (including LDAPv3 support) will be available from Apple's open source Web site in early September.

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