OS/2 eZine

16 May 2000

Ben Dragon is a self-described "Part-time Networking Translator." When he's not explaining to the world how networking works, he's busy configuring his computers to do common household chores....

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OS/2 and Home Networking, Part 1

To all you good viewers who have taken time from their hard lives for OS/2 (and in particular OS/2 eZine) I welcome you. 8)

"Ben Dragon" I call myself. My history in OS/2 is both long and passionate! "Interesting" belongs in there as well, and for the first time in a great length interest in OS/2 is on the rise! Indications can be found in the existence of this new issue of OS/2 eZine; the new Editor in Chief Christopher B. Wright and all the new writers, (of which I am one!) *Bows* If OS/2 had not turned out to be the truly fine piece of work that it is, it would have died that often-speculated death many years ago and left IBM in a state of mourning. And what a long two seconds that would've been! *Coughs* While IBM wishes the client OS/2 would go away, the people who use their product wish otherwise...

OS/2: we know it's the best OS out there... still... despite many MS attempts to do it one better! *Waves to B. Gates* It lives, it works, I like it, and if you talk to it nicely it can be cajoled into doing many wonderful things... including networking.

Always of interest to OS/2 users is the network. What better way to maximize the use of your computers, (and their very expensive hardware), than to create a network. Become the master of your own small but significant, universe, control and share all your resources with all your machines.

No hard drive space on computer "A" but lots on computer "B"? No problem. Network! Have a printer that your spouse wants access to, (as do the kids and their friends - with pets attached - who come over every weekend to print out their latest list of hockey stars), but you don't have enough money for another? No problem! Network! The kids want to use the computer to play online games and get to the latest online do-dads but they can't play games on the main machine because it uses OS/2? No problem! Network! And OS/2s networking abilities and connections are not limited to OS/2 based machines either.

OS/2 to NT, NT to '95, (or its ugly kid sister '98), and back again to OS/2. File sharing, printer sharing, modem sharing, com port sharing, no problem, it can all be done! Want to play Starcraft with your spouse over the internet, (with a friend in Belgium), on two remote machines (running Windows), while the main machine (running OS/2), compiles some code and simultaneously does backups, renders graphics, cleans the bathtub and does last Saturday's laundry? No problem! Network! (Dishes will be in FixPak 14). Leave that to OS/2 and its networking abilities while you, your spouse, (and your friend in Belgium), kick some Zergling butt! All this I have done, and all this, you too can do! Note that OS/2 does NOT have to yield control of its cable modem to any other OS for any of the above mentioned purposes!

Over the course of the next few issues I will write in some detail about how I achieved all the above. (The laundry and bathtub cleaning I leave to you!) I started off trying to connect my computers while having zero knowledge of networking. I was fortunate enough, however, to have a strong technical, electronics/computer background. Now what I needed was lots of sound networking-based information.

I found overwhelming amounts of totally useless knowledge on networking, on the World Wide Web. I found crumbs of knowledge about the same at the local libraries and tasty morsels of knowledge at the local university's extensive library (of which 99% of those books were in a permanent state of "checked out" by the Computer Science students, who seemed to think they had a right to them over me. Humph.) But I did not stop there!

After spending many, many hours in research, posting to news groups, scouring the dust-filled corners of the internet, looking under piles of missing, solitary socks, (aha!), I finally gained the necessary information to do everything I wanted to do with my computers. It took me quite some time to find the information that I needed. Now what was needed was some basic clarifications.

First I had to understand the differences between peer-to-peer and TCP/IP, loopback interface and subnet address, and dozens of other terms. Peer-to-peer simply means from one workstation to another without the use of a master, controlling machine, (referred to as a server), and running networking server software. For the purposes of this article I will leave those other terms as they stand. Essentially what I intend to do here is to give you the readers a relatively painless description of how to end up with the same functionality that I have. Allow me to reiterate and expand.

I now have four machines connected to my network. I have no network server, but use peer-to-peer networking and TCP/IP. All machines can share all hard drives (which I can allow or refuse access to). All machines have full access to the Internet for all applications and all purposes, (excluding those that require multiple, real Internet IP addresses). While I do not have a server as such, I give the cable modem and all serving software to my main machine which I consider the workhorse of my setup.

My main machine is the not-yet-antiquated Pentium Pro 200 over-clocked to 233 mhz. It has 128 megabytes of RAM and a completely SCSI subsystem. While both NT 4, (fixpak 5), and Windows '95 are on this machine, (available through IBM's free-with-OS/2 Boot Manager), NT 4 only gets surrogate use during maintenance or during those rare times when OS/2 is down, (hello FixPak 13, I know you're reading this). '95 just takes up space and awaits deletion. OS/2 with this setup can provide and does provide many useful functions.

This machine can see all machines and allows transparent access to the Internet for itself and all others on the network via IP masquerading or NAT, (those terms are being used interchangeably these days.) It also looks after my web server, (Apache 1.3), my mail server, (Weasel), at least as much of it as my ISP allows, (nods to Peter Moylan), my FTP server, (presently in transition), and more! My next computer is much newer but less useful.

On my right I have my Celeron 466 mhz with 128 megabytes of RAM. It also has a Voodoo 2, 3dfx card and has both Windows '98 SE, (Suckers Edition), and Windows NT 4. This is a gaming machine only! I never do anything of any importance on it. Never! It has the power but not the reliability. As far as I see it Windows '95 and '98 SE, (Self-crashing Edition), are made for gaming and other recreational tasks. But wait! There's more!

On my left is my female partners machine, (the one that brings the term "Wow!" into this relationship), a Pentium II 400 mhz and 128 megabytes of RAM, It runs Windows '98 SE, (Shutdown Edition). She does some work on it using the Windows version of Star Office 5.1, and some gaming. This leads us to my last computer.

The final machine, (which is downstairs in the kitchen), is a Pentium Pro 150 mhz over-clocked to 160, running OS/2 exclusively. It is used for convenience purposes and kitchen related duties, (such as keeping recipes), and quick internet access. It has 64 megabytes of RAM and is by far the least powerful of the machines whereas its bigger brother is still the workhorse and keeps up with the Celeron 466 and the Pentium II 400... of course, they aren't running OS/2, * coughs *. This concludes the description of both the intent of this article and of my home setup.

In Part 2 I will take you through the process of installing the necessary networking software on OS/2 Warp 4 and configuring it. For now I bid you farewell.