In Part 1 of this series of articles on home
networking, I told you about network kits and getting
your network interface cards (NICs) into the
computer. My most important words of wisdom in that
article were: read the documentation! Okay, assuming
you have your NICs working, now it's time to make
Windows build a network that works the way you want.
Before I go on, I need to explain a couple of
things about protocols. Just so you know, the word
protocol sounds complicated, and the systems behind a
protocol can be complicated, but the idea is simple.
Here's a protocol example from the real world: you and
a co-worker have been assigned to an important project. The co-worker has been sleeping at
the meetings, and you're doing the whole job by
yourself. What do you do about it? You document every
instance of a job assignment made to your
co-worker that he/she flubs and every meeting he/she misses
or sleeps through. You take the complaint to your
boss, state your case and present the documented
evidence. If your boss fails to make a difference,
you take your complaint to your boss' boss and so on
until you have the problem corrected.
That series of stepsfrom the recognition of
a problem to its eventual resolutionis an example
of protocol-driven behavior. You wouldn't take the
initial complaint to the company president instead
of first going to your immediate supervisor, would
you? If you did, you'd break standard protocol, right?
The same thing goes for network communications. Computers use protocols to specify how data
should be formatted before they put it on the network.
This way other machines using the same protocol
know how to handle the data that your computer sends
and vice versa. Different protocols have different data
formats and capabilities that make them more or less
viable ways for computers to talk on a network.
The network I'm explaining in this series of
articles uses only one protocol, which is common to most
of the networked computers in the world: TCP/IP. However, Windows is going to try to make things
too easy by installing the NetBEUI and IPX/SPX
protocols. Neither of these protocols is something
you want. When you're done with the set up, you'll
have a TCP/IP network that works cleanly on the
home network and with the public Internet (with the use
of one extra software package).
First, on your desktop, right-click Network
Neighborhood and choose Properties. You see a list
of adapters, network clients, protocols and network
services. If you've got a modem installed, you're
likely to see a network adapter labeled Dial Up
Network Adapter. If your NIC installed itself properly,
you should also see that new NIC listed.
When you're done, the list should look like this:
- Client For Microsoft Networks
- Dial-Up Adapter
- Your New NIC
- TCP/IP Protocol ->Dial-Up Adapter
- TCP/IP Protocol ->Your New NIC
- File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks
Now click the File and Print Sharing button and enable both
the File and Print Sharing checkboxes. Set the
default LogOn to Microsoft Networking (don't choose
Windows Family). In the end, your Network Properties
should look a lot like the figure below.
Click the Identification tab. Give your computer
a name and choose a workgroup name, as shown in
the figure below.
Note that all the rest of the
computers on your network should have unique names, but
they should all be in the same workgroup. This makes
browsing the network a lot more convenient. You
don't have to enter anything in the description
field if you would rather not.
The configuration process gets a little
complicated and is one reason a lot of people don't use
TCP/IP. However, the benefits are well worth the
effortI promise! Here are a few things to keep in mind
when you use TCP/IP:
- Subnet masks must be configured properly
so that the machine's IP address and the gateway
IP address are on the same network.
- No two machines may have the same IP address.
- It's really confusing at first glance but don't
let that worry you yet.
Given the above rules, clear your mind and
follow these instructions (I explain all this to you later).
This configuration assumes that Computer 1 is
the machine that provides the Internet connection for
the network. If you configure this computer
properly, you won't have to change the settings later when
you decide to share that Internet connection (you'll
want to share later because phone lines get pricey
when you start buying one for each computer in the house).
Right-click Network Neighborhood and choose Properties. Double-click the entry that looks
like: TCP/IP->Your Network Adapter.
A TCP/IP properties page appears. Here are the values you want to use in each tab of the dialog box.
IP Address tab:
IP Address - 192.168.1.1
Subnet mask - 255.255.255.0
This machine is on your network but it will use Computer 1 to access the Internet. Its
configuration values are only slightly different. On Computer
2, right-click the Network Neighborhood icon and choose Properties again. Double-click the
TCP/IP -> Your Network Adapter entry again and enter these values.
IP Address tab:
IP Address - 192.168.1.2
Subnet mask - 255.255.255.0
You'll notice that both computers have unique
IP address values and that the Gateway, DNS and Subnet Mask values are the same for both machines.
Believe it or not, you should be ready to click
OK on both machines, give Windows its files from
the Windows setup CD and reboot.
When the computers reboot, your home network should be working. Yeah! Really! There are only
a few steps left before you're sharing printers, files
and even an Internet connection! You'll also note
that Windows now insists that you enter a user name
and password at boot time. Entering this information
is an inconvenience, albeit a minor one. Choose a
password, and get used to the idea that you'll have to
log on to your computers from now on if you want
to have access to shared files and printers.
Next time, in Part 3 of the series, you'll find out
if you did everything right and learn how to share
files and printers. Stay tuned!