Aug 21

Old Beginners Networking Tutorial

I was cleaning out some of my files in my network storage and found an old article I had written for a site long ago in a distant galaxy far far away. It was created September 17th, 2005. 10 Years have passed, and a lot of things have changed, so it’s not as relevant anymore; but some of it is still applicable. Either way, it kind of shows off some of my earlier writing skills. I almost deleted it to be lost forever, but decided to post it on here first so at least archive.org can catch it, or maybe someone might find it useful. Keep in mind though, this was written in Windows XP days, so that part isn’t useful anymore. Also, there were pictures in the original post, but those are long gone.

Enjoy!

 


Introduction:

By popular demand I present “Mike’s Complete Networking Tutorial”. I will cover the hardware and software needed to make several different types of networking for the home. It will cover cheap and simple equipment and the necessary software settings you will need to make it work. For now, the software will only cover Windows. I will add Linux as an update later. If someone wants to help me add support for Mac (using TCP/IP) send me a message will all the info I need and some screen shots. As for hardware I will reference Linksys for the most part (my favorite wired devices). I will be general in the wireless device field because Linksys is lacking (except the routers which are still decent). Please do not skip the definitions section. These are important in understanding what everything means and does. A lot of your questions will probably be answered just in that section. There is a LOT of stuff here, but don’t be intimidated. This tutorial is meant to cover all possible scenarios, and your network will only fall into one or two sections.

This tutorial will teach you:

  1. How to do a simple 2 computer network with 1 cable (with internet sharing).

  2. How to do a simple 2+ computer network with some cables and a hub/switch (with internet sharing).

  3. How to do a simple network with 2 wireless devices in Ad-Hoc mode.

  4. How to do a simple network with 2 or more wireless devices.

  5. Simple networking understanding and how they work.

  6. Sharing files and printers on a network

  7. Some basic troubleshooting

Definitions:

First it is important to understand what you are doing. Here are some basic definitions. There will be some things missing in these definitions because I am trying to keep them simple.

  1. Ethernet cable – This is the cable you use to carry information from one computer to the next or from device to computer. It is also called CAT5 because that is the type of cable used.

  2. Crossover Cable – This is a type of Ethernet cable used between 2 computers (or between two routers, etc.). The RX and TX pins are crossed.

  3. Patch Cable – This is a type of Ethernet cable used between a computer and a device.

  4. Network Card (or NIC) – This is the device that interfaces your computer to the network. It is usually internal in the form of PCI (sometimes special form factors) or external as a PCMCIA card or USB. It is a bad habit to call it a “NIC Card” because the word card is redundant (Network Interface Card), so don’t get into that habit. These can be wired or wireless.

  5. RJ45 – This is the type of jack network cables we are discussing here use. It looks exactly like a telephone plug (RJ11) except wider. RJ11 has 4 pins and RJ45 has 8 pins.

  6. MAC Address – A unique identifier that all network cards and network devices have. The MAC Address becomes very important in Networking.

  7. Packet – The little bit of information that is sent across your network. Computers and devices send (a lot) of thee constantly back and forth to communicate.

  8. Router – A device that connects two different types of networks together. This is commonly used in homes and businesses alike to connect their network to the Internet. A router translates packets from one form to another so your network can understand them. Home routers usually also act as switches.

  9. Hubs – A device that splits the network into multiple sections so you can plug more devices into it. You can’t just splice an Ethernet cable and add connectors (in this particular type of network, this does not apply to bus/ring type networks). You have to have a device that can forward packets. A hub just receives a packet through one port and automatically forwards it to all of the other ports. Hubs are not usually used today because that creates a lot of unnecessary traffic, and switches have become affordable (some corporate networks still use hubs but I won’t go into why here).

  10. Switches –Switches are really smart Hubs. Instead of just forwarding all the packets it gets to every port it has, it reads the packet for the MAC address, and forwards it to the corresponding port (the switch learns the MAC address of the device plugged into any port).

  11. Wireless – Refers to the transmission of packets over radio waves.

    1. Ad-Hoc – This refers to wireless networking only between two devices

    2. Infrastructure – This refers to wireless networking between an access point and several devices.

    3. 802.11a – The standard at which wireless transmits and receives at 54mb/s (but has very limited range).

    4. 802.11b – The standard at which wireless transmits and receives at 11mb/s.

    5. 802.11g – The standard at which wireless transmits and receives at 54mb/s.

  12. TCP/IP this is the protocol suite used to communicate over most home and business networks and over the internet. This is where IP addresses come in.

  13. IP Address – A number assigned to your computer so your network knows who is sending what to whom.

  14. Subnet Mask – I won’t go into exactly what this is, just be aware it exists. For basic networking you will only be using 255.255.255.0.

  15. DHCP – This refers to a device getting an IP address assigned to it automatically. This is taken care of by some sort of a DHCP server (router, etc).

I can do deeper into the whole networking thing and I will if I create an advanced networking tutorial.

Hardware:

First we will need to determine what kind of network we want. I will use scenarios for this, chose the best scenario for your application. First and foremost in any scenario you have to have a free network card (not in use) in each device.

Network Cards:

Selecting the right network card for the job is important. I will not go into installing these as it varies between cards and adapters and computers. Consult the adapters manual.

  1. If you have a desktop computer, you will probably want a PCI network card (if it isn’t built in already). If you don’t have a slot free, you can also purchase an USB network adapter. Try to go for the PCI card first. This can be the wired or wireless variety. Try to get a 10/100 card (gigabit still isn’t very useful for this yet), or 802.11g capable wireless card.

  2. If you have a laptop computer (an older one, all new laptops have them built in) then you will need a PCMCIA network card or USB adapter. Try to get a 10/100 card (gigabit still isn’t very useful for this yet not to mention being too expensive), or 802.11g capable wireless card.

Routers:

Try to get a wireless router (that has a switch built into it). This is important for future expandability. If you don’t have a laptop or any wireless devices now, you may want to get one in the future. If you don’t buy a wireless router now then when you get a laptop you will have to have it wired (thus no roaming freedom). If you get a wireless device you will have to buy a new router anyway. It is worth to spend the extra $20 to have that functionality from the beginning. I recommend Linksys routers, and I recommend staying away from Microsoft and SMC routers. I recommend Netgear second and Belkin third. Make sure you get a router that has multiple wired ports and 802.11b/g technology. MIMO (Multi-In, Multi-Out) is a new technology that will not be covered here, although it should be about the same setup wise.

Switches:

I recommend a Linksys switch even though any brand switch should be efficient. I wouldn’t recommend getting a gigabit switch. It will offer you no improvement. Even if you have gigabit network cards and switches, and CAT5e/6 cable, you still won’t notice any difference from 100mb/s networks unless your streaming video to a large number of computers or something. Home switches work right out of the box.

Scenario 1: You have 2 computers. You just want to network them together to transfer files and/or share a printer. If you have a modem to the internet also connected to a computer you also want to share the internet.

This is the simplest type of network. All this requires is a free network card on each computer and a crossover cable. You can buy one at your local computer store, or make one if you have the tools or have a friend who does (cheaper). Plug in the cable to each computer and hardware wise your done! Now see the software section on setting up the network in Windows for static IP addresses.

EXCEPT: If you are sharing a network connection, set up the computer that is connected for Internet Connection Sharing and the other devices to receive DHCP.

Scenario 2: You have more than 2 computers, or you have 2+ computers and a network printer or other device (game console, etc).

NOTE: You CANNOT connect your broadband modem directly to your network. You must have a router between your network and your modem (See scenario 3).

Here you will need the same number of patch cables (of long enough length) as you have computers and other network devices. If you have 2 computers, then you need 2 patch cables. If you have 4 computers then you need 4. This also applies to game consoles as they use the exact same network. Each network device needs a network card. You will also need a hub or switch to connect them all to. If you go to your local computer store you will only see switches. If you can buy a switch, do that. You can find used hubs for cheap, but your network performance will be slightly impacted. Connect all your devices to the switch (but not in the uplink port). See the software section on setting up all your computers to talk to each other using static IP addresses.

EXCEPT: If you are sharing a network connection, set up the computer that is connected for Internet Connection Sharing and the other devices to receive DHCP.

Scenario 3: You have a couple of computers and have a broadband Internet connection.

There are a couple of ways you can go about this. You can connect the broadband modem directly to one computer and use scenario 1 or 2 for the rest of your network (the computer then acts as a router). This however has 2 major downsides. If you turn off this computer, the rest of the devices will have no Internet connection. This also puts your computer up front and vulnerable to more attacks from the internet. You will also need two network adapters if your broadband modem uses Ethernet.

The best way to do this is get a router and connect your modem directly to the router, and the connect the router to the rest of your network. Most home routers have a switch built in, so all you will need is same number of patch cables as devices and a router. The best part of this is that the router provides a good solid hardware firewall. This is very important to have. The downside of course is the cost. Look to spend about $60 for a good Linksys router.

If you have cable Internet, just plugging in your router (once your new connection is registered) should work out of the box. Cable (Comcast, etc) uses DHCP to assign TCP/IP addresses (this is the default WAN network settings in most home routers). If you have DSL, you will have to consult the router manual on how to enable PPPoE.

All you have to do here is connect the patch cable to each device and into the router. Plug a patch cable between the modem and the WAN port of the router (or Internet port). Once you have your hardware connected see the software section on how to set up each device for DHCP.

Scenario 4: You have 2 wireless devices (not routers) and you want to network them together to share files and printers.

You don’t need any hardware here other than the 2 wireless cards. See the software section on wireless networking in Ad-Hoc mode.

Scenario 5: You have 1 or more wireless devices and a broadband connection you want to share, or you have more than 2 wireless devices you want to share on the network.

For here you will need a wireless router to go between your network and your broadband modem, or just to act as a switch for your wireless network. Plug everything in and see the software section on DHCP for wireless networking.

Software:

This section will cover how to do things in Windows 95/98/98se and XP/2K except for wireless networking. Those sections will be exclusively for XP/2K because the wireless networking has been vastly improved over 98se. Windows ME in this respect is the same as Windows 98se, however I don’t recommend using this OS at all anyway. See the appropriate section that the scenario refers to. Because wireless devices vary so much between each one I won’t go into setting them up here (routers, access points, etc). Consult the manual for that. However, if you are incorporating a wireless router, I do STRONGLY recommend securing the wireless portion with WEP 128bit security (I do not recommend WPA even though it is better because there are still too many devices out there that can’t do WPA).

Internet Connection Sharing

If you are sharing the Internet connection from a computer to your network (not recommended, but necessary if sharing 56k), then you have to have an OS that supports ICS. Windows 95/98 does not do this. However, Windows 98se/XP/2K/2K3 do. First identify what network cards you have, and where they are connected. Make sure you have the drivers installed for all cards.

In Windows 98se you will probably need to install ICS.

  1. Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs -> Windows Components -> Select and install Internet Connection Sharing (You will need your CD)

  2. Restart if needed

  3. The wizard should launch afterwards.

  4. First choose the type you need. If you are sharing a 56k modem choose the first option, if you are sharing cable or DSL choose the second option

If you have broadband:

  1. Now it will ask you to select the adapter that is connected to the Internet. Make sure you chose the right adapter. If you chose the wrong one you will just have to go through the setup again. Normally the first network card or the onboard one is #1, and the second one is #2.

  1. Now, press next and you can skip the Network Setup disk.

  2. Set up all the other clients for DHCP. See DHCP for wired networking

Windows XP/2K/2K3 ICS:

You can do this two ways, the wizard or manually. Here we will go manual (you learn more that way). This can also apply for wireless networking.

  1. Go to Start -> Control Panel (or Start -> Settings -> Control Panel for classic start menu)

  2. Go to Network Connections

  3. Right click on the adapter that connects to the internet (dial-up or broadband) and click Properties and then click the “Advanced” tab

  4. Check “Allow other network users to connect through this computers Internet connection.”

  5. Then select the right network adapter that is connected to the network

  6. Set up all the other clients for DHCP. See DHCP for wired networking or wireless networking (whichever applies at this point)

Note: When setting up ICS, Windows default makes the shared computer’s IP address 192.168.0.1.

Wired Networks: Static IP

This is the hardest part of this networking (it’s not very hard). You only need to do this because there is no DHCP server available. Windows by default is set to use DHCP. So here we have to change it to assign the machine its own IP instead. Before we continue, map out what machine has. For now we will stick with the IP address range of 192.168.0.1 through 192.168.0.254 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0. Each machine must have its own number. For example, the first machine can be 192.168.0.1 and the second can be 192.168.0.2, etc etc. Don’t change any of other numbers.

Windows 95/98/98se

  1. Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Network

  2. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  3. Click once on the TCP/IP protocol that is bound to your adapter.

  4. Click Properties

  5. Click on the IP Address tab and click “Specify IP Address”

  6. In the IP Address field put in the assigned ip (192.168.0.1 for example)

  7. Then put 255.255.255.0 in the Subnet mask field.

Windows XP/2K/2K3

  1. Go to Start -> Control Panel

  2. Open Network Connections

  3. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  4. Click once on the TCP/IP protocol and click Properties

  5. Click “Use the following IP Address”

  6. In the IP Address field put in the assigned IP (192.168.0.1 for example)

  7. In the Subnet mask field put 255.255.255.0

  8. Leave everything else blank, if they have stuff in them, erase them.

Do this for all of the other static IP computers.

Wired/Wireless Networks: DHCP

Here we are only going to ensure that the Windows default is still in place. Normally a network that falls under this category should “just work”, but we will make sure it will work.

Windows 95/98/98se

  1. Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Network

  2. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  3. Click once on the TCP/IP protocol that is bound to your adapter.

  4. Click Properties

  5. Click on the IP Address tab and click “Obtain an IP address automatically”

Windows XP/2K/2K3

  1. Go to Start -> Control Panel

  2. Open Network Connections

  3. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  4. Click once on the TCP/IP protocol and click Properties

  5. Click “Obtain an IP address automatically”

  6. Click “Obtain DNS server address automatically”

  7. If this is a wireless network with WEP, double click on the small wireless icon in Windows tray and connect to the appropriate network. It will ask you for the WEP key.

Do this for all other DHCP wired computers.

Wireless Networks: Static IP Ad-Hoc

See the wired networks Static IP to set the IP for your wireless adapter; however, you will need to set your adapter into Ad-Hoc mode.

  1. While you are in the properties of your wireless adapters after you set up their IP addresses, click the “Wireless Networks” tab. Then click the “Advanced” button near the bottom. NOTE: If the first box “Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings” is NOT checked then consult your wireless cards software for enabling Ad-Hoc mode.

  2. Click “Computer-to-computer (ad hoc) networks only”

  3. Click Close

  4. Do this on the other computer. Your computers should see it and connect.

Sharing Files:

In order for the computers to “see” each other in “My Network Places” they need to have something shared. This process is very simple.

Windows 95/98/98se:

Make sure that File sharing is enabled.

  1. Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Network

  2. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  3. Click “File and Print Sharing”

  4. Check the first box for file sharing, and the second if you want to share printers.

  5. Follow the rest of the instructions for Windows XP as it is basically the same in 98.

Windows XP/2K/2K3

  1. Open “My Computer”

  2. Open the harddrive that contains the folder you want to share

  3. Right click on the folder and click “Sharing” or “Sharing and Security”

  4. Click “Share this folder” or “Shared As”

  5. Click Ok

  6. Do this on any other computer that you want to share.

Sharing Printers:

Windows 95/98/98se

Make sure that Printer sharing is enabled.

  1. Go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Network

  2. Right click on the network adapter and click Properties

  3. Click “File and Print Sharing”

  4. Check the second box for print sharing, and the first if you want to share files.

  5. Go back to Control Panel and open “Printers”

  6. Right click on the printer you want to share and click “Sharing”

  7. Click “Shared As”

  8. Click Ok

Windows XP/2K/2K3

  1. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Printers and Faxes

  2. Right click on the printer and click “Sharing”

  3. Click Share this printer

  4. Click ok

Installing Network Printers:

Windows 95/98/98se/XP/2K/2K3

  1. Go to “My Network Places” and browse to the computer with the shared printer

  2. Double click on it to add it. Follow the defaults steps.

Troubleshooting:

If you are not getting any communication between the computers first make sure of a few things. Make sure the hardware is connected and all the necessary lights are on. If you have a static IP network make sure both computers have different static IP’s and are setup to have static IP’s. If it is a DHCP network, make sure they are all assigned to DHCP with the exception of any internet connection sharing host which will be static. You can use a couple of tools to do this.

Windows 95/98/98se

  1. Start -> Run -> type winipcfg

  2. Make sure the correct adapter is selected on the top

Windows XP/2K/2K3

  1. Start -> Run -> type CMD

  2. Type ipconfig /all

I won’t go into advanced troubleshooting. Please post any problems you have on the board and someone or I will do their best to answer. Include as much detail as you possibly can, including the OS you are using and the details of the network you have set up.

Ok, that wasn’t so hard was it? Any questions or comments please let me know on the boards! Happy networking!

Leave a Reply