CaptNemo looks at computer Networking

This is my notes on how to set up a basic home network. I am by no means an expert and am basing this on my own experiences. If in doubt, ask your local networking guru :)

When I first tried networking, I had a simple goal, connect two pc's so I  could play death match doom! I was able to do this easily enough thanks to windows 95s new connection wizard that allowed me to connect the two pc's using a serial cable and a device called a null modem.  Soon though this was not enough, the connection was slow, and windows frequently had trouble establishing the connection. I now had a third pc I wished to add as well so the serial cable would no longer do the trick. I was working with a very limited budget though and a hub was still more money then I wanted to invest in my little network. I was able to get some 10baseT network cards though and connect them with thin coaxial cable. This has the advantage of being run in a long chain so a hub is not needed. Both ends have to be terminated though with a 50ohm resistor cap.

    For this simple three pc network I was originally using the ipx protocol because that was the protocol supported by most of the network games I had (doom, warcraft, warcraft2, descent) Eventually I ran into games that required TCP/IP and I had to add that to my network. Fortunately it was fairly easy to do in windows and Linux which I had begun to experiment with supports TCP/IP by default. I did not have a dedicated server though so I had to assign each pc an IP address manually. This is referred to as 'static'

    There are three ranges of ip ddresses reserved for private networks: –, - and - ,

    I was not aware of this and entered other addresses entirely which functioned perfectly well but I had to change later when I connected my network to the internet.

Now I was transferring files across the network and sharing a printer as well as playing games so I decided to setup a dedicated network server. I had played around with slackware, debian and other versions of Linux but for my server I used red hat simply because the cd was easy to get a hold of and the installation was fairly simple. 

Many networks were being switched from 10mbs to 100mbs and so I was able to purchase 10mbs hubs very inexpensivley and began switching my network over from coaxial cable to cat5 cable. About this time I also started to look into sharing my internet connection. I knew that Linux was capable of doing this fairly easily but alas my attempts to get my modem to work in Linux had not succeeded so I looked for a solution that would work in windows 95. I found that sygate made a program to do just that and unlike other products for windows that used a proxy server and involved setting static ip addreses on every machine, sygates program acted as a DHCP server which assigned IP addresses automatically to my other PCs. This worked great while I was using a dial-up connection to the internet, and even though windows now has connection sharing built in
I feel that it's not very secure, so a program like sygate is a better solution.

It wasn't long before I wanted a faster internet connection and signed up for a broadband cable connection. This means that instead of using my phone line to get online, my internet connection comes in through my cable tv cable. You need to sign up for service with your cable provider and install a 'cable modem' which is not a true modem in the sense that a phone modem is, but for pratical purposes provides a similar service- taking the incoming signal and turning it into something you can use. Most cable modems provide a USB connection you can plug directly into a PC and an ethernet connection. I chose to use the ethernet connection and connected it to a linksys router. These small devices are now available inexpensivly and provide for sharing your internet connection. They also provide a small amount of additional security by helping to hide your PCs from the internet. They use NAT to take your single IP address from your ISP and to share it amongst your internal PC's. I had to shut down sygate on my windows PC because the linksys router provides DHCP services as well.

    Whats next for my network? Well I've added several different routers based on simplified linux installations, e-smith and freesco are two of the easiest to install and boot right off a floppy so you don't even need a hard drive in the computer to use them. They add a level of firewall protection that the linksys router cannot provide. I've considered upgrading my 10mbs hubs to 100mbs switches as not only is 100mbs faster but switches provide for much faster connections then hubs. However with wireless conections becoming faster and cheaper all the time I will probably add wireless connections to my network next.

Wiring How to at


Last changed: 04/13/2003, 12:48:54