Building a Home Network - Network Operating System

Once we have acquired, installed, and connected all the hardware and cables, we have to activate the network with a network ready operating system. Since our hypothetical home already has Windows 95 installed on all the machines, they should operate as soon as we have properly configured the network section in the system control panel properly for each computer.

The setup involves three main steps: ensuring the control panel network components are installed, configuring the computer id and IP addresses for each, and updating a couple of system files. Since each of the machines in our hypothetical home already have access to the Internet, the Dial-up Networking and TCP/IP components are already installed. In addition, we need the Client for Microsoft Networks component.

After all the components are installed, the identification for each computer must be defined. These are given appropriate names. The office computer is named office, the portable is named portable, and the two desktops are named client1 and client2. After the identifications are defined, the TCP/IP settings must be modified. We will use as the subnet mask on all the computers. Each computer must have a unique IP address. We will use through These IP addresses are reserved for use in private networks.

After this is completed, there are a couple of files in the system subdirectory of the computer that need to be modified. For complete, step-by-step instructions refer to Furnival. His article, One Line Works Fine, provides detailed instructions on how to configure the Windows control panel settings and the hosts files in the Windows system directories.

Windows 95 will support a peer-to-peer network without any help. To increase the security on the office computer, and to utilize it more as a server, it may be beneficial to implement Windows NT. There are two flavors of Windows NT available, NT Workstation and NT Server. If security on the office computer is our primary concern, then NT Workstation running on the office computer is probably sufficient. If we want to increase security on all the computers in our network, then we can implement NT Server on the office computer, and change from a peer-to-peer network to a domain network. More information is available from Breva and Panetteiri in their article, Use NT Workstation to Power Your Lan.

If we choose to stay with Windows 95 on all our computers, there is no additional cost for our implementation. Placing Windows NT Workstation on the office computer, costs three hundred and nineteen dollars. Adding high security to our network with Windows NT Server for five users would cost us eight hundred and nine dollars. Since we have no need for the increased security, could upgrade the operating system later if necessary, and are attempting to minimize the total cost, we will stay with the Windows 95 option.

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By Robert Corfman - 06/13/98