Don't Be Frightened By The Network

As notebook and desktop computers have gotten more affordable over the last few years, it has become increasingly more common for users to have multiple PCs in their homes. As convenient as having multiple systems in one home can be, sharing files or an Internet connection among them can seem like a daunting task for less tech-savvy users, as was the case with "mitesh", who recently asked for some help on the Laptop Experts website that I participate on. Thankfully, connecting more than two PCs together and creating a home network is actually quite easy.

To physically get the systems connection to each other, all you need to use is network hub or a switch, which are readily available at any computer or office supply store. I recommend going with a switch because it will offer better performance. Simply purchase a switch with enough ports to support all of the machines you’d like to connect. Then, simply plug the systems into the switch using Ethernet cables. If you have the machines configured with the same workgroup name within Windows (and if you haven't changed the default name, they probably will be), they should all see each other when they scan the network, and you can share files, printers, and other peripherals among them easily.

Sharing resources among wireless and wired PC simultaneously is also relatively simple. Many wireless broadband routers also have wired switches built in. Connect your wired systems to the router's integrated switch and connect your notebooks (or wireless desktop systems) to the router via 802.11 WiFi, and the wireless machines can access the wired machines just as if they were wired to the switch.
 


Posted Wed, Sep 10 2008 5:56 PM by Marco C
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Comments

3vi1 wrote re: Don't Be Frightened By The Network
on Fri, Sep 26 2008 1:23 PM

With lots of non-Windows boxes on our home networks today, NetBIOS over TCP/IP is working less and less for name resolution.  My home network has a couple of Nintendo DS's, a PSP, Wii, 360, PS3, 2 Windows PCs, 2 Linux desktops, a Linux file/print/proxy/web/media server / arcade cabinet, three wireless access points, two switches, and two routers.  NetBIOS works for only two things in that list.

This leaves us with two options:  1)  manually set all the IP addresses (or reserve specific addresses for each MAC in your routers DHCP configuration) and use a hosts file.  Or, 2) Run your own DHCP and DNS, configuring dynamic updates from the former to the latter.

Option 1 (host files) is the easiest solution to implement, but when you plug any new device into the environment you have to go touch everything.  Option 1 also does not work for devices that don't support host files (your video game systems) - you have to hardcode IP addresses for options on these devices - like say if you want to point the PS3 and Wii at a proxy server to sanitize your kids web browsing, for example.

Option 2 allows everything to instantly see/resolve new devices, but can be a total pain in the neck to set up.  If I ever want to get rid of a week of my life, I'll write a walkthru.

What we need is for option 2 to be built into routers from the get-go.  And while they're at it, they should allow you to add your own DHCP option codes to the router - like say you want to configure WPAD or option 152 for an IP phones TFTP server.  The dumbed down DHCP/DNS implementations might work today, but I predict that newer devices will need the missing functionality very soon.

timada wrote re: Don't Be Frightened By The Network
on Mon, Nov 3 2008 7:22 AM

3vi1 raised some good points, the people making these home networking solutions/<a rel="follow" href="www.getontheworldwideweb.com/.../a>. Need to consider the increasing use of consoles connected to the internet. I found it’s very to find one that works with every possible connection/device and it sill doesn’t work perfectly.

timada wrote re: Don't Be Frightened By The Network
on Mon, Nov 3 2008 7:40 AM

3vi1 raised some good points, the people making these home networking solutions/routers ( hothardware.com/.../don-t-be-frightened-by-the-network.aspx ) Need to consider the increasing use of consoles connected to the internet. I found it’s very to find one that works with every possible connection/device and it sill doesn’t work perfectly.