In this lesson we define network shares, examine which resources can be shared on a network, and look at who is able to set network shares.
After this lesson, you will be able to:
- Describe how to share files and directories with anyone on a network.
- Share a printer on a network.
Estimated lesson time: 20 minutes
Before you can share resources with another computer, your workstation must have client software installed and be configured as a network client. You will have to establish the computer's network identity, enable sharing, and set access privileges for the resources the computer will share. The procedure for installing and configuring client software depends on the operating system you are using and the operating system of the network on which you intend to share resources.
At its simplest, resource sharing between computers consists of nothing more than passing files from one computer to another on floppy disks. This method places severe limits on the volume of data, as well as the speed and distance in which it can be shared, but even this method is occasionally useful.
Another technique for resource sharing is to directly connect two computers together by means of a cable link between the serial communications (COM) ports of each computer. Figure 9.1 shows two computers connected through their COM ports. To connect computers in this way requires a null modem cable and serial communication software. (A null modem cable connects the output pins in one computer's serial port to the input pins in the other.)
Figure 9.1 Direct connection between two computers
Communication software is required for each computer in order to make use of the physical connection between the computers. You must configure one computer as a host, or server, and one as a client. The client computer will then have access to data on the host. While this is not a true local area network (LAN), it is a practical method for providing a temporary connection between computers for the transfer of files. Direct cable connections are most often used to share files between a desktop computer and a laptop computer.
Sharing information efficiently is not as simple as connecting computers together with cables. In a network environment, with many users and job requirements, access rights, or permissions, need to be established. These allow specific network users to access information according to the needs of their jobs, while blocking unwelcome access to confidential or valuable data.
The simplest and most convenient method of networking is peer-to-peer. In this networking environment, data sharing occurs at the drive or folder level. Any drive or any folder on a drive can be shared. Each computer shares its drive or folder resources to the network, and each user is responsible for setting the shares. The user can also choose to share printer resources.
In order to share on a peer-to-peer network, no matter which operating system is being used, file and print sharing must first be enabled on the computer. Each operating system has its own methods for enabling sharing.
After sharing has been enabled, you can decide which drives, folders, and printers to make available to the network. Sharing options include hard drives, CD-ROM drives, floppy-disk drives, and folders. To set up any of these printer or file-related devices for sharing, you will have to designate each one as a shared resource and identify the level of sharing available. (Devices such as scanners and modems cannot be shared.) Remember that after a resource is shared on a peer-to-peer network, it is available to the entire network.
The rest of this lesson discusses how networks share resources on specific operating systems.
Microsoft Windows 95 and 98 include several choices of client software. The most common is Microsoft's Client for Microsoft Networks. To install Client for Microsoft Networks, open the Control Panel and double-click the Network icon. Click Add to display the Select Network Component Type dialog box. Because you will be adding a Microsoft network client, select Client and then click Add. The dialog box shown in Figure 9.2 will be displayed.
Figure 9.2 Select Network Client dialog box
In the Manufacturers list, select Microsoft and in the Network Client list, select Client for Microsoft Networks. Select OK to add the client service to the system.
At this point, you will need to add a networking protocol. Client for Microsoft Networks can be used with the IPX/SPX, NetBEUI, and TCP/IP protocols. Select the protocol appropriate to your networking environment.
After you have installed Client for Microsoft Networks software, you will be able to share resources with any network that uses the SMB (Server Message Block) file-sharing protocol. This includes any computer using Windows 95 and 98, Windows NT Workstation, Windows for Workgroups, or LAN Manager.
Sharing Printers, Drives, and Folders
After networking has been enabled on the computer, directorys, folders, and printers can be shared on the network. To share these resources you must enable File and Print Sharing.
Right-click the Network Neighborhood icon and click Properties from the menu to open the Network Properties dialog box. Then click the File and Print Sharing button. See Figure 9.3.
Figure 9.3 Network Properties dialog box
The File and Print Sharing dialog box contains two check boxes:
You can select either one or both check boxes. After you have enabled either or both check boxes, you can start sharing your computer's resources.
Although you have enabled sharing on the computer, your resources won't be available on the network until you have designated which resources you want to share. To share a device or folder, open Windows Explorer, right-click the device or folder icon, and click Sharing from the menu. This displays the Sharing tab, as shown in Figure 9.4, in the Properties dialog box for the device or folder.
Figure 9.4 Sharing tab
Selecting the Shared As radio button allows you to set the share name and to add a brief description of the shared resource. (The radio button is a circle appearing next to each of several options in a dialog box; when selected, it has a smaller black circle inside it.) In the Access Type area of the dialog box, you can select the radio button corresponding to any one of three access types. Selecting Read Only restricts access to the shared folder so that its contents can be read and copied, but not edited in any way. Selecting Full gives complete access to the contents of the folder; and selecting Depends on Password forces users to provide a password in order to access the shared resource.
When a folder or device is shared, you will see a hand as part of the icon displayed in My Computer or Windows Explorer.
In the Windows NT environment, you can apply the added security features provided by the NTFS file system. This file system is a relational database in which everything is seen as a file.
To install networking software, several protocols are available:
You must have administrative rights in order to enable sharing on a Windows NT Server.
Sharing Directories and Files
To share a folder locally (you are logged onto the workstation), right-click the folder's icon and select the Sharing option. This will open the Properties dialog box for the directory, as shown in Figure 9.5. The Share tab will be selected.
Figure 9.5 Folder Properties dialog box
The maximum number of connections that can be set for Windows NT Workstation is 10, regardless of the setting. This setting is optional.
Assign permissions to the shared folder. By following the dialog boxes, you can limit who has permission to access this folder or give permission to everyone. By using the New Share button, you can configure multiple shares using different names and assign different levels of permissions.
To share folders and drives in Windows 2000, you must be logged on as a member of the Administrators, Server Operators, or Power Users group.
To share a Windows 2000 folder or drive with other users, open Windows Explorer, and then locate the folder or drive you want to share. (To open Windows Explorer, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Windows Explorer.) Right-click the folder or drive, and then click Sharing. On the Sharing tab, click Share this folder.
To change the name of the shared folder or drive, type a new name in Share Name. The new name is what users will see when they connect to this shared folder or drive; the actual name of the folder or drive does not change.
To add a comment about the shared folder or drive, type the text in Comment. To limit the number of users who can connect to the shared folder or drive at one time, under User limit, click Allow, then enter a number of users.
To share a Windows NT/Windows 2000 printer on a Windows NT network, click Start, select Settings, and click Printers. Right-click the printer to be shared, and click Sharing from the menu. Select the Share as button and enter a name that will clearly identify the printer to the network. After the printer has been shared and identified on the network, security for the printer can be set.
Figure 9.6 Sharing a printer
Apple's file-server software is called AppleTalk. Sharing resources with AppleTalk requires the following steps:
Sharing Drives and Folders
Like all peer-to-peer networks, AppleShare provides sharing at the folder level, but not at the file level. If the owner of the server computer has designated any files or folders for sharing, these will be available to anyone who logs on.
A folder's owner sets the folder's sharing by opening the folder's sharing window. From the Choose File menu, select Get Info, and click Sharing. For each user or group listed, the owner sets one of the following privileges for working within the folder:
Restrictions can also be placed on the shared folders themselves so that they cannot be altered by anyone other than the folder's owner. To set such a restriction, open the Sharing Info dialog box and click the Can't move, rename, or delete this item (locked) check box.
To share a directly connected printer from an Apple computer, open the Apple Chooser dialog box and select the printer you want to share. Then click the Setup button to open the printer Sharing Setup dialog box. In this dialog box, you can click the Share this Printer check box and enter a name for the printer and a password (optional). You can also click the Keep Log of Printer Usage check box if you want to record information about printer usage.
The UNIX operating system exists in a number of configurations and is available from a variety of manufacturers or, in the case of Linux, from no corporate entity at all. UNIX support for interoperability with other network operating systems varies with the manufacturer. Sun's Solaris Easy Access Server, for example, includes native support for many Windows NT network services including authentication, file and print services, and directory services. Linux distributions include Apple access modules for AppleTalk access, third-party software such as Samba, which makes UNIX file systems available to any networked computer using the SMB file-sharing protocol, and modules for NTFS and MS-DOS file-system accessibility.
Sharing folders on a server-based network is similar to sharing on a peer-to-peer network. The primary difference is in the level of security available, which is achieved through the server's directory services. Microsoft NT Server and Novell NetWare provide file-level permissions in addition to printer, drive, and directory permissions.
Unlike other network operating systems, NetWare does not require that sharing be enabled prior to actually making the server's resources available. Enabled sharing is the default setting for a NetWare network.
A second difference is that access to shared resources is set entirely through user and group account rights. In other words, printers, directories, and files are not themselves restricted. This subject is discussed in the next lesson of this chapter.
Your task in this exercise is to designate shares in a peer-to-peer network configuration.
For this configuration, assume that the company to be networked is small, numbering 20 employees, only 10 of which have computers. These computers are running compatible operating systems. Employees include the managing director, three people in the Sales Department, two in the Accounting Department, two in the Product Design Department, and two in the Shipping Department. There are two laser printers available; one is connected directly to the managing director's computer, and the other is connected directly to the lead accountant's computer.
In this exercise you will:
The following points summarize the main elements of this lesson: