Ray Richards is founder of Mindspan Consultants and a technology journalist hailing from Ottawa, Canada

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Networking Basics Part 2

Last month we covered fundamental networking concepts and terms and explored the decision process necessary to a initiate a successful LAN implementation.  This month we will expand on this knowledge base by discussing a Windows '95 network deployment  in some depth. As the majority of new home computer owners have access to, and are familiar with the basic operation of the Windows '95 operating system, I will skip some instructions which should be very obvious; as this article is not meant to be a tutorial on rudimentary '95 operation. This article also presupposes the successful installation of network cards, Windows networking components (under initial setup) and cabling in all affected machines (as the variety of available options is beyond the scope of this issue) and will focus on software procedures.

Let's Get Started

The first thing that merits attention in a Win'95 peer-to-peer setup is the addition of appropriate network protocols to your system. This step forms the root of communication between the various stations... if these aren't installed, no standard for information exchange will exist on your LAN. All the following steps must be duplicated on every machine that you intend to include on your network and (as no machine is dedicated to a server role in a peer-to-peer scenario) variation in procedure (aside from system names) outlined here is not required. Double click on the  "Network" section in your control panel. This will reveal a dialogue box which will enable you to perform a variety of tasks. Click the "Add" button and choose "Client", then "Microsoft" from the subsequent dialogue boxes. Now click on "Client for Microsoft Networks" and then "OK". This will return you to the initial "Configuration" tab in the networking dialogue.

You should now see an icon depicting a computer workstation with the words "Client for Microsoft Networks" to the right in the main box. Assuming you have also installed your network card properly, you should also see it's icon in the same box (if not you must add it by following the same procedure as adding a client but select "Adapter" and then your appropriate card from the list). Again select the "Add" button and choose "Protocol". This presents you with a variety of options as well but for simplicity's sake, we'll again go to the "Microsoft" option and choose "NetBEUI". After clicking on "OK" you will notice that the protocol has been added to the main box and been "bound" to your Ethernet card automatically. Binding is merely the computer's way of distinguishing which protocol to use with which adapter.

Bear in mind that in more complex situations you may have multiple protocols bound to the same adapter (very handy if you also require Novell IPX to run multi-player network games ...errrr... I mean connect your Novell configured laptop from work to your home LAN in order that you might catch up on those reports that are due <g>). Now you must select the services that you want to add. Again follow the above procedure and select "Services" and then "Microsoft". Double click on "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks". This option will enable you to print from remote stations not directly connected to your printer; as well as access files and programs residing on foreign stations. Next click on the "File and Print Sharing" button and ensure that both the options are selected with check marks in their boxes.

Name That System

Now you must select the "Identification" tab and enter the information in the spaces provided. The best solution for input in these boxes is to keep the designations simple. For "Computer Name", just type in the name of the person who most often accesses that machine. For "Workgroup" select a clear name that most accurately reflects the nature of the work being done by those involved e.g. "Marketing" ,"Administration" etc.. The workgroup members are able to utilize eachother's  resources as defined by the owners of the individual workstations or the network administrator. In Windows '95 this scheme is referred to as "Sharing". For the "Computer Description" field, I normally input the platform involved e.g. DX266 or P150 however this field is not overly important in the overall scheme of things.

Sharing

 The tab "Access Control" may be set to whatever value you wish... a complete description of what each does resides below the radio buttons... I use "Share-level Access Control" which enables me to assign a password to any resource I choose to share with the members of my workgroup. You should now check to ensure that all is well with your setup by selecting the "Configuration" tab and clicking on the various network components and choosing "Properties". For the "Microsoft Client for Networks" item, it is probably a good idea to select the "Quick Logon" radio button unless you are always running in networked mode. If you select "Logon and Restore Network Connections" and your machine has pointers to resources on other systems which aren't powered up and in network mode, your system will bog down for a time while it tries in vain to locate them.

Under the properties for NetBEUI, ensure that the protocol is properly bound to both "Client for Microsoft Networks" and "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks". The "Advanced" tab on this item (and the properties for the "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks") is by default configured properly for the vast majority of network implementations. Next make sure your network adapter is properly configured and bound to the NetBEUI protocol. Select "Client for Microsoft Networks" as your primary network logon if you plan to run predominantly in networked mode; otherwise choose "Windows Logon".  Click "OK" and reboot your computer when requested.

Whew!

While you wait for your system(s) to reboot, feel free to give yourself a pat on the back as you are well on the way towards setting up a successful LAN. When '95 finishes loading, you will encounter a new feature that greets you before you can further access the system: the Windows Logon dialogue box. Simply type in a password which is easy for you to recollect in the required field and click "OK". If you aren't security conscious, you may type nothing and press "OK" to continue. Well, now you are back in the familiar Windows '95 GUI... nothing convoluted has been added as a result of our changes. Double click on the "My Computer" icon and view it's contents. It should reveal the physical drives on your machine as well as the "Control Panel" and "Printers" icon.

Right click on the drives and printers that you wish others to be able to access and select "Sharing". This will display a dialogue box containing a variety of resource security related options. You may select full, no, or read only access. You may even choose read only or full access depending on the password provided. Choose whatever level of security you desire (filling in password fields as required) and click "OK". You will now discover that the icon representing the resource you have shared is now held in a blue sleeved hand; indicating a successful transition from a private to a public commodity. If you require more stringent controls on file access, you may open the Windows Explorer and follow the exact procedure outlined above for individual directories and even single files!

Voila!

Click on the Network Neighborhood icon and cross your fingers. What you should see (if everything has gone according to plan) is a list of all the systems on your new peer-to-peer network by computer name. Click on a system name (other than the one you are seated at) and you should see a list of that unit's  shared resources. Try opening a file... using a CD-ROM or printer that's not attached to your machine...running a program that lives on another system... pretty cool Huh! If you are less than successful, go back and review the steps... if you still can't get it (and have tried really hard including Win'95 help) send me some email and I'll  be glad to lend a hand.

Next Month

Next month I'll delve into the integration of Microsoft Exchange including email and fax and examine the great Win'95 Briefcase feature. I'll also (space permitting) discuss the rock solid TCP/IP abilities of this OS. Until then, happy networking!

Originally Published in Monitor Magazine lanStuff column, July, 1996. Columnist, Ray Richards

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