In this chapter
In the previous chapter we took a look at the evolution of Microsoft Windows and also introduced other desktop operating systems such as Linux and the Macintosh OS. Now, we can concentrate on two main approaches to networking: peer-to-peer networking and server-based networking. Each of these networking approaches offers advantages and disadvantages.
You will find that deciding on a particular approach to networking will be directly related to the number of users you have and the types of services your network needs to offer to these users. For example, if just a few users need to share a printer, a peer-to-peer network will probably get the job done.
Peer-to-peer networks work particularly well in homes or small office situations where only a few files and possibly a printer need to be shared. Setting up a peer-to-peer network in a home also makes it easy to share a single connection to the Internet (connecting a network to the Internet is discussed in Chapter 15, "Connecting a Network to the Internet").
In cases where you have a lot of users and want to make the sharing of files or other network resources more secure and centrally controlled, a server-based network would better meet your needs. After discussing the two different approaches to networking and the basics of networking topologies, we will take some time to sort out how you can assess your own networking needs and then plan your own network.