One of the questions I am asked most frequently is: "How do I set up a 'Hosts' file on my Macintosh?" Usually, I point people to Apple's reference pages (Mac OS X and Classic Mac OS) on the topic. However, the folks at Lazy Mountain Software have written a simple shareware application that allows much easier configuration of your machine's Hosts file, should you require one. Hostal supports both host mapping and host blocking, as well as "Time to Live" to prevent stale host mappings. For users on a network, Hostal detects an existing Hosts file and incorporates those settings as well. If manual configuration of your Hosts file gives you headaches, be sure to give Hostal a try. A Windows version is also available.
Version 1.4.5 makes undocumented changes from version 1.4.4; version 1.4 was the first "Universal Binary" release of Hostal, for native performance on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs.
"Since putting my most frequently used IPs in a 'Hosts' file with Hostal, my web browsing has been faster. However, despite some considerable playing I have not yet been able to get DHCP to function with Hostal's default settings. Here are a few tips: ONE - Set the "large system font" to Chicago particularly if using OS 9.1; TWO - Turn off Hostal filters initially to reduce memory use."
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Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.
Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.
For an interesting and objective third-party view of Apple's networking technology - from MacTCP through Open Transport and beywond - Peter Sichel's Sustainable Softworks page is unparalleled.
These are applications that are newer and of potential interest, but which I haven't yet selected for permanent inclusion. Have a look, and let me know if you think they deserve to be part of the permanent collection!