Setting Up the Peer-to-Peer Network

Once you have the peer computers configured with a LAN protocol, you are ready to actually set up the peer network itself. This means that you need to physically connect the computers with some sort of network medium. Windows (beginning with the second release of Windows 98) actually provides you with the capability to connect two computers using a serial cable attached to COM ports on the computers (we're talking a very small peer-to-peer network).

But for discussions sake, let's assume that your peer-to-peer network consists of several computers that have been connected using twisted-pair cabling and a hub. First you must enable file and printer sharing on the computers. While many Windows computers may already have this component installed by default, let's look at how you add this component. This is done in the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box (the same place where protocols were added to the computer's configuration). Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel (in Windows XP, select Start, then Control Panel).

  2. In the Control Panel, select Network and Internet Connection. The Network and Internet Connection window opens.

  3. In the Network and Internet Connection window, select Network Connections. The Network Connection window opens.

  4. In the Network Connection window, right-click on the Local Area Connection and select Properties from the shortcut menu.

  5. In the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box, click the Install button and then select Service in the Select Network Component Type dialog box.

  6. Then click the Add button.

  7. In the Select Network Service dialog box, select File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. Then click OK. The service will be added to the General tab of the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box. You can click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Now, we can take a look at creating the workgroup and how resources such as drives , folders, and printers are actually shared on the peer network in the Windows environment.



You can also use a crossover cable to connect two Windows-based computers that are outfitted with Ethernet cards. The crossover cable negates the need for a hub. If you want to try and make your own crossover cable, check out the GCC Web site at

Creating Windows Workgroups

You need to configure two items in the Windows environment for the peer-to-peer network to work: Windows File and Printer Sharing (as already discussed) and a workgroup (actually, you will also need to share folders and printers, which we will discuss later in the chapter). A workgroup is really just a logical grouping of computers that have been configured with the same workgroup name .

The easiest route for setting up a workgroup using Windows XP Home or Professional is the Network Setup Wizard. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel (select Start, then Control Panel).

  2. Select the Network and Internet Connection icon in the Control Panel. To start the Network Setup Wizard, select Set Up or Change Your Home or Small Office Network. The Network Setup Wizard will appear.

  3. Click Next to bypass the initial wizard screen. The next screen provides a checklist of things that you should do before proceeding with the wizard (such as install network cards and modems). Click Next to continue.

  4. On the next screen you are asked to choose how the computer connects to the Internet. You can either specify that the computer connects directly or through another computer (Windows XP offers Internet Connection Sharing, as does Windows 2003 Server; sharing an Internet connection is discussed in Chapter 16). Select the appropriate setting (see Figure 6.6).

    Figure 6.6. Specify how the local computer connects to the Internet.


  5. After making your selection, click Next. On the next wizard screen you must supply a description of the computer and a name for the computer. The description is optional but the name is important. You are actually assigning the NetBIOS name to the computer. The name must be unique and consist of 15 characters or less. This is the limit for NetBIOS names .

  6. After providing the description and name for the computer, click Next to continue. On the next screen (see Figure 6.7) you must supply the name for your workgroup.

    Figure 6.7. Supply the name for the workgroup.


  7. After supplying the workgroup name, click Next. On the next screen, the wizard lets you know that it is ready to apply the settings that you have configured using the wizard. Click Next.

  8. On the next screen you are given the option of creating a Network Setup Disk. This floppy disk is used to join Windows computers to the workgroup that are running pre-XP versions of Windows. You will need a blank formatted floppy disk to create the Network Setup Disk. After clicking Next, you will be prompted to insert the disk.

  9. After the disk is created you can continue to the final wizard screen. To complete the setup of the workgroup on the computer, click Finish.

You can run the Network Setup Wizard on all computers that you want to join to the domain, or use the Network Setup Disk when necessary. If a workgroup already exists, you can also specify the name of the workgroup on a computer without running the Network Setup Wizard. This is a little more advanced than using the Network Setup Wizard but it requires fewer steps. On a computer running Windows XP select Start, and then right-click on My Computer. Select Properties on the shortcut menu that appears. The System Properties dialog box will appear.

Click the Computer Name tab on the System Properties dialog box. The current name of the computer and the workgroup or domain that it belongs to are displayed (we discuss domains in Chapter 9, "Networking with Microsoft Windows Server 2003").

To change the computer's name or its workgroup, click the Change button. The Computer Name Changes dialog box appears (see Figure 6.8). Enter the workgroup name in the Workgroup box. If you wish to change the name of the computer, enter a new name in the Computer Name box.

Figure 6.8. You can change the computer name or workgroup affiliation .


After making your changes, click OK. It may take a moment but a message box will open welcoming you to the workgroup. Click OK to close the message.



NetBIOS is a protocol that allows computers to be identified on the network by a friendly name. With the introduction of Windows 2000, Microsoft moved away from NetBIOS as the "friendly" naming system for computers on a network. Windows 2000 (and Windows XP) use the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) as the friendly name on networks. FQDNs are resolved to IP addresses by DNS servers. NetBIOS names are still required by computers running older versions of Windows and certain legacy network applications. Every computer you configure should have a unique computer name.

Windows Folder and Printer Sharing

Actually sharing folders and printers in the Windows environment is extremely straightforward. In both cases, it's just a matter of right-clicking the folder or printer that you want to share.

In the case of sharing folders, use Windows Explorer (in Windows XP, select Start, right-click on My Computer, and select Explore) to locate the folder that you want to share with the other computers in the workgroup. Then right-click the folder and select Sharing and Security (in earlier versions of Windows the selection is "Sharing").

The Properties dialog box for the folder will open. On the Sharing tab select the Share This Folder on the Network check box. You can then specify a name for the share , which is what you call the shared folder. Figure 6.9 shows the Sharing tab of the Properties dialog box on a Windows XP computer.

Figure 6.9. Use the Sharing tab on the Properties dialog box to share the folder.


In terms of printers, sharing is just as easy as sharing a folder. Open the Printers dialog box; in Windows XP, select Start, then Printers and Faxes (in most other versions of Windows, click Start, point at Settings, and then select Printers).

In the Printers and Faxes window, right-click any installed printer and select Sharing. The printer's Properties dialog box will open with the Sharing tab selected. Select the Share This Printer option and then provide the Share name for the printer. Figure 6.10 shows the Sharing tab of a printer's Properties dialog box. To close the Properties dialog box, click OK.

Figure 6.10. Printers are shared on the Sharing tab of the printer's Properties dialog box.




You can also use the Computer Name Changes dialog box to add a network client to a Windows Domain. You will need to have knowledge of an account name (and password) that has administrative rights on the Windows domain controller (the main server on the domain). All you have to do is select the Domain option button and then type the name of the domain. When you click OK, you will be prompted to provide the administrative account name and password. It may take a little time, but a message box should appear welcoming you to the domain.

Once the shares and printers are available for the workgroup, the various users can access these resources. Workgroup member computers and the shares that they offer can be accessed using Network Neighborhood or My Network Places (depending on the version of Windows). Shared printers will also appear along with the shared folders and can be quickly connected to. Figure 6.11 shows a printer and shared folders that are being provided by a workgroup peer.

Figure 6.11. Shares and printers can be accessed via the workgroup.




Windows XP actually provides you with an option that allows you to make print drivers for earlier versions of Windows available to computers on the network. This is very useful when a computer in a workgroup (or on a network domain) is running an earlier version of Windows and needs to be connected to the printer. Drivers are added for a shared printer using the Additional Drivers button on the printer's Sharing tab.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Networking
Absolute Beginners Guide to Networking (4th Edition)
ISBN: 0789729113
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 188
Authors: Joe Habraken © 2008-2017.
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