Hi fellow Maxers,
As a somewhat inferior alternative to good 3rd party externals (aka.shell, shell, DOSHack)...
Here's a simple Max java class for shell access - works on Mac and should/might also work on Windows (although I've mostly used it on Mac, and of course DOS expects some different commands). Runs in its own Java thread, so repetitive tasks such as pinging run nicely alongside Max processes.
Classes, maxpatch, and sample bash script attached.