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Bonjour for Windows…Yes? No? July 18, 2007

Posted by CLibra in Apple, Music, Network, Technology, Windows.

My laptop, being an Apple Mac, has a cool feature from Apple called Bonjour. I’m not gonna go into great detail about what it is, but basically it’s Apple’s implementation of Zeroconf, a protocol used to advertise services on a local network.

Bonjour can do some pretty rad stuff. It can automatically find and configure printers on the local network, discover webservers and automatically present a list of them to Safari, have text (or A/V) chats and send files over iChat to other network users, and stream music and photos using iTunes and iPhoto. But Bonjour isn’t just limited to Apple’s own, oh no, an increasing number of developers are improving their applications by adding Bonjour technology. For example, SubEthaEdit and VoodooPad Pro both use Bonjour to share and collaborate on documents, Address-O-Sync uses it to syncronise address books across networked Macs, and a Bonjour Browser has even been crafted to show all bonjour services currently being broadcast.

I don’t want this to turn into that eternal debate, because I love my XP box and MacBook Pro equally, but Apple has decided to play nice with Bonjour; they released Bonjour for Windows. When I found this, I was thrilled. Finally, I thought, I can set up all the Windows PCs in my network to chat with each other on iChat. After I downloaded and installed it (http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/bonjourforwindows.html), my mind ground to a halt – I have the technology installed, now how do I use it? Granted, a Bonjour printer discovery tool had been bundled, as well as an ad-in for Internet Explorer to display Webservers on the network, but that was it. So I decided to go searching for Windows alternatives to Apple’s Bonjour enabled programs.

· iChat Bonjour Conversations – This one took me a while to find. At first, I stumbled on Trillian Pro, which is a multi-protocol IM client, and it’s Bonjour channel had all the features of iChat. However, it was priced $25 (£12.30), and I didn’t really want to pay for Bonjour messaging alone, as I prefer my current IM client. After more searching, I managed to find the free Rendezvous Messenger (http://xurble.org/projects/iChatMiranda), which is a stripped down version of Miranda IM, with just Bonjour messaging coded in. It’s a simple, barebones App, and although it’s a little buggy, it works.

· iTunes Bonjour Streaming – Apple slyly installs a partial Bonjour component bundled with iTunes, in the form of it’s network streaming. Yup, it’s based on Bonjour, and it already works seamlessly with Macs or PCs.

· iPhoto Sharing – This one’s got me annoyed. I use Google’s Picasa on my PC to manage my photo Library (ask anyone who knows me, I have millions of pictures), and I don’t intend to copy and sync to them to my Mac Laptop. What I want is something similar to iPhoto’s sharing features in a Windows format, my ideal would be a Bonjour plugin for Picasa, but I would settle for a different program. To date, I have not found a suitable way of doing this.

· VooDoo Pad Sharing – On my laptop, a program called VoodooPad manages my mind. It helps me get through stuff so much, I use it to track what I need to do and when, music I need to buy, how much money I am away from buying something etc. I find It so useful, and it has Bonjour sharing capabilities which I would love to include on my PC, but as the app is developed by Mac developers, I doubt it will happen.

· Address-O-Sync – The only reason I was interested in this App was to keep my address book synced across both of my computers, but there is no Windows counterpart, so I’m currently using Plaxo until something similar is developed.

So is Bonjour for Windows a mixed blessing? When I first discovered it, I assumed there would be a slew of Bonjour programs for Windows, but I was obviously wrong. It’s a real shame, as Bonjour is a powerful technology on the Mac – I just hope it catches on in the Windows World.

UPDATE: I have found a sort of workaround for the network iPhoto sharing, although it doesn’t actually use Bonjour. The way I acomplished this was to install Gallery2 on my PC’s Webserver, added my photo’s to it’s database, and used it’s RSS Publishing feature to Photocast my pics to my Mac. Thanks goes to Lifehacker for ther great tutorial on Installing Gallery2

UPDATE2: For people asking how to remove Bonjour, Amarjeet Rai has written a blog post about it, which can be found here.

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1. Personal Digital Networks « CLibra’s Blog - August 12, 2007

[…] Posted by CLibra in Theoretical, Social, Network, Internet, Technology. trackback As I’ve previously mentioned, I like Apple’s iChat local messaging. It’s easy, I can talk to people near me wherever […]

2. Tricon - September 20, 2007

You should check out Pidgin for IM. It is cross platform and supports Bonjour: http://pidgin.im/download/

3. Computer Maintenance Tips - December 3, 2007

Computer Maintenance Tips

I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting

4. John - February 13, 2008

Bonjour does not play nicely with Norton Internet Security. I keep getting this d**n popup window every few minutes from NIS saying that “A remote system is attempting to access mDNSResponder.exe on your computer”. This is a royal pain. If I permanently block this, will that action screw up my iPod?

5. CLibra - February 13, 2008

It shouldn’t, no. Bonjour doesn’t play a part in iPod sync’ing, only in sharing of iTunes libraries.
Thanks for the comment!

6. Computer Repair Guy - February 24, 2008

Mac versus Windows is a long debate and both camps have some excellent software but many developers still favour one over the other principally because its what they know best.
With windows emulation being available for Mac users now, they will be able to run windows software side by side. Having a bigger choice is invariably best for the end consumer.

7. orderprozac - February 24, 2008

Thanks for sharing. It was interesting for me

8. daliot - February 26, 2008

I just installed “Bonjour for Windows” on my PC and tried file sharing with my MacBook. Nothing showing in the finder. So I gave up.
Zero Configure is fancy, but a little blunt for beginners.

9. CLibra - February 26, 2008

Yeh, that’s what this post is about.
Bonjour is there, but there just aren’t many uses for it on Windows

10. Michael Maggard - May 4, 2008

You seem to be confusing service discovery with service usage.

That iPhoto ‘announces’ it is sharing a iPhoto photo library doesn’t mean that any other application will know how to access or otherwise make use of that iPhoto photo library. iPhoto libraries are built & connected to one way, Picasa ones a different way for it’s photo libraries, SuperWonderPhotos yet another. Being able to ‘see’ the services offered on the network doesn’t magically mean any application will necessarily be able to connect to any other application’s offered services.

This is true for for any service announced or discovered through Bonjouror any other mechanism. Without some standard way of using whatever it is in common between the devices involved it’s irrelevant.

iPhoto can talk to iPhoto because the have common protocols & formats. The same for specific chat clients: WhizBang Chat has built-in compatibility with WhizBang Chat (& probably not ICQ/AIM/Yahoo/MSN/Jabber/et al clients.)

But iPhoto or your chat client aren’t going to start streaming video from your TiVo merely because they both use Bonjour to announce their existance, much less the printer starting to automagically transcribe your episodes of “Good Eats”..

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