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Setting up a Network

Ion Petroianu

I needed a network!

After accumulating a lot of spare parts most of us will start thinking about building a new PC. I did it three times now after upgrading my personal computer and my son's computer. The result: I have five computers in my house, one for every member of my family.

At first I had, as most of you, a modem and an ISP and friends started complaining they couldn't reach me in the afternoon, so I installed a second phone line (another $20/month), which soon got busy with a second modem and a free ISP.

Being fortunate, I was able to get a cable connection and all the things got back to normal until I realised I had to install Office on every computer and any time I needed to print I had to take my file on a floppy and go to the computer connected to our printer. Because my work asks me to use AutoCAD I had to install it on both computers and ask my son not to play with his system because I needed it for my work.

It took me a while to decide that the printer should be connected to my computer and suddenly I had to install Adobe and Quark on my system so my son would be able to print his work too. On top, I was waiting in line to get my share of Internet for surfing and emailing.

What were my needs?

It was too much! "I want my network!" I said and I started looking at the cheapest way to solve my needs. But what were my needs?

  1. Files and printers sharing (Windows includes it).
  2. Internet access for every computer (set up of a proxy server will give me that).
  3. As little as possible to spend (I'm cheap, I know!).

What I got

When the decision was made I went to a computer parts supplier and I bought:

  1. Five network interface cards (I don't need to share applications so I've got 10 base T cards. Lower speed, I know, but no more money for a HUB and they come with the required BNC T connectors)
  2. Thin coaxial cable (RG-58) enough to wire my house between computers.
  3. Two resistive terminations.
  4. Eight BNC connectors (two for each computer except for the first and last that will use one cable and a resistive termination)

With all the goodies in a bag, I went home and started my work by making cables between computers and running them through the house. In my version of network you need a cable between two computers that are close to each other and there is no central point where your cables have to go. Installing a network card in each computer and connecting them with the cables (see Figure 1) was the next step.

Figure 1

Setting up the network

All hardware installed I proceeded to set up my network. For that you need your Windows (95, 98) setup CD handy.

I'd like to mention here that as soon as you install a NIC in your computer you get the nice icon of "Network Neighborhood" on your desktop, so your next step is to create the "neighborhood". For that you have to set an identity for each computer. Right click on the "Network Neighborhood" and click on "Properties". Click on second tab - "Identification" - and christen your machines the way you want but keep the surname (workgroup) the same to make them a family.

Check the "Access Control" tab and select "Share-level access control" if it's not already selected.

Now go to the first tab - "Configuration" - and see what you've got. Scroll down in the window and check what is in there. At the minimum, to be able to connect your computers, you should have TCP/IP > Your NIC and "File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks" visible. If you do not have them, click first on "Add" and in the new window highlight "Service", click "Add", highlight "File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks" in the third window and click "OK". You should be back in the second window that gives you the options to add "Client", "Adapter", "Protocol" and "Service". Highlight "Protocol" > Add > highlight Microsoft and scroll down to TCP/IP, highlight it and click OK. At any time decline Windows' proposal to restart until you are done. Now restart and come back on the same way, as we are not finished yet.

Continued . . .

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