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Decide on names and protocol

Communication between computers is very similar to a communication between humans:
In a communication, you usually address a person by its name
(example: "John, can you please tell...")
you can talk to everybody
(example: "Please, everybody listen : who has taken the manual on ...... ?")
and you need to agree on a communication language (I can assume that you understand English
since you read these pages, but would you understand : "Bitte legen Sie die Diskette ein"
which is German and means: "Please, insert the Floppy Disk").





Windows95/98/ME:
part of the Network configuration

Network Properties :

via "Control-Panel" or via
right-click on Network Neighborhood :

tab : "Identification"

- Computer name
- Workgroup


Windows 2000 / XP :
part of the "MyComputer" or
"System" properties":
"My Computer" Properties :


tab : "Network Identification"

you will need to identify your computer by
a "Computer Name" and the groups of
computers connected together by a
"Workgroup" name.


First, both names are limited to max. 15 alpha-numeric characters plus a few special characters,
like: underscore "_" and "$". You can NOT use any space
( like: "John Smith")

Please, keep it simple and short:
- although 15 char are allowed, use max. 8 char
(NT4 warns about possible connection problems)
- use only A-Z (in UPPERCASE) and 0-9
- avoid "$"
(it has special features to hide a system)

You must make sure, that the "Computer Name" is unique: defined only on one computer
( imagine in a discussion between human's if you say: "John, please tell me....." and there are 2 or more John's,
who then respond both at the same time , making the replies not understandable, or none of them, because they
look at each other to find out, which "John" should reply .To avoid confusion, names must be unique )

Please, make also sure, that such a "Computer Name" is not identical to a Username !

Make sure, that the "Workgroup" name will be the same on all connected computers, to make
it easy to communicate between them
(Microsoft proposed in NT4 to use as name "WORKGROUP",
in Windows ME they suggest "MSHOME" )


Communication Language = Protocol

In a previous step, we discussed the
selection of the type of Ethernet networking.
You can compare this to decide, whether you like to communicate to a friend (which is far away)
by :
- making a phone call
- sending a letter via postal mail
- sending an e-mail
But you also need to agree on a language: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, ......

Like with Human languages, which evolved thousands of years ago in different parts of the world,
different networking "languages" = "Protocols" developed were developed on the "Computer Stone Age"
(an amazing 30 years ago)
by different companies/organizations.

Network Properties :
Windows (95/98/ME/NT4/2000)
supports the 3 most important and most
used network protocols:
- IPX/SPX
- NetBEUI
- TCP/IP

Starting Windows XP, only the following
protocols are supported by Microsoft :
- IPX/SPX
- TCP/IP
( NetBEUI is now an "unsupported Protocol" ! )

NetBEUI
The NetBEUI protocol was originally developed by IBM, later adopted by Microsoft for
their first networking product : "Microsoft LanManager".
- It is very simple to install (there is NOTHING to configure and works, as long as the
computer name and workgroup name is properly defined), it is a very fast protocol, but
- it is NOT routable:
It can NOT be used to connect networks in different locations together.
This is a serious limit for use in large companies, but its simplicity makes is a perfect choice for
small home-networks.
- it is not supported anymore on Windows XP !

IPX/SPX
The IPX/SPX protocol was originally developed by NOVELL for their Netware-server product:
Netware was the first affordable PC-based fileserver ( long before Microsoft entered this market
with their Windows NT-server product ). In the first versions of Netware, you had to use the
IPX/SPX-protocol to connect a PC to the Netware server (in the latest versions of Netware,
also TCP/IP protocol is now supported).
To enable the connection of Windows PC's, Microsoft implemented a "IPX/SPX compatible"
protocol. IPX/SPX-protocol requires very little configuration, when connecting to a Netware
or NT-server, but on networks without a server you need to configure manually the
Frame-Type.
IPX/SPX is routable and can be used to create large professional networks, connecting multiple
sites. It is not often used in home-networks, unless explicitly required, like by some computer
games.

TCP/IP
Originally developed for the ARPANET (which later evolved into the Internet), TCP/IP was first
only implemented on UNIX-systems. It can be quite complex in configuration with items like:
IP-address, subnet-mask, gateway, Router, DNS, DHCP, and before using TCP/IP, I strongly
suggest that you update your knowledge of
TCP/IP-basics explaining all these buzz-works.
Due to the explosive growth of the TCP/IP-based Internet in the last years, TCP/IP has become
now more and more the most important protocol used in most professional networks.

TCP/IP works only with an
IP-address assigned for each system.
If you have only Windows98/98SE/ME systems, you have the possibility to let Windows
assign itself automatically an IP-address, but that will delay the bootup of your system with
15-20 seconds. Therefore I strongly suggest, that you ALWAYS assign manually an IP-address.
Unless you have good reasons to use a specific address-range, I suggest that you use the
address-ranage: 192.168.1.x, where x is 1,2,3.
give each of your systems a number and then use the following IP-addresses:
- System #1: 192.168.1.1
- System #2: 192.168.1.2
- System #3: 192.168.1.3
- .
- .
Although you could install all protocols (which will most probably work), it is strongly suggested
to install a few as posisble , preferable only ONE protocol.


So, which protocol to use in a Home-network, connecting just 2 or 3 PC's together ?
In general, try to use ONLY 1 protocol, but if required multiple protocols can be installed,
depending if you like to use the
Windows98/ME/2000 Internet Connection Sharing or a multi-Player games requiring a certain protocol :



If your network contains a Windows 2000 system,
then you should use TCP/IP.
If your network contains a Windows XP system,
then you must use TCP/IP.

 


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