Peer-to-peer networks in small offices experience many problems while configuring peer-to peer connectivity between various Windows desktop versions. For eg, you might get an error 'Network Path Not Found' or you might be asked for a password to a mysterious 'IPC$' while accessing shared resources (folders). In this article, we will tell you how to interconnect various Windows desktop versions seamlessly.
Before we begin, remember that files, folders and other resources like printers residing on one computer have to be explicitly shared before they can be made accessible to others. The general procedure to share a resource is to right click on it, select sharing from the context menu and proceed. You can set the type of share (such as, read only) and who gets what rights on the share.
While creating a small Windows network, you should put all the Windows desktop machines in the same workgroup to avoid problems.
Configuring the workgroup
Configure a workgroup on a Win 2000/XP machine. In order to do this, right click on 'My Computer' and select the Properties from the context menu. This will open a Win 2000/XP system properties sheet. In the case of Win XP you have to click on 'Computer Name' tab and then click on the Change button. In the dialog box you get, select the 'Workgroup' radio button and write your workgroup name in the text box and click on OK. In the case of Win 2000, click on 'Network
Identification' tab and then on the Property button. You will get a dialog box, where you can key in the workgroup name. Set the workgroup and click on Apply. In both the cases, you will be asked to restart you computer. Now you can go about connecting other machines to this one.
Connecting from Win 98 SE/Me
On Win 98 SE/Me machines, first install TCP/IP and NetBUEI protocols and enable 'File and Print Sharing' if not already done.
To do this, right click on 'Network Neighborhood' and from the context menu select Properties, which will open a Network
Property sheet. Here click on the Add button, from the list that shows up, double click on Protocol. A window showing the list of protocols opens. Select Microsoft from the vendor list, and NetBUEI and TCP/IP one by one from the protocol list.
Click on OK each time to install. You will be asked to reboot after each installation. Install both the protocols and on the same window, click on 'File and Print Sharing' button to enable it. Now go to the 'Network Identification' tab, assign a computer name (different name for each computer on the network) and set the same workgroup name as defined earlier. Now reboot the PC.
Next move over to the Win 2000/XP machine to enable sharing of resources on it. First create the required users on this machine. For this, right click on the folder you want to share, and select Sharing. In the window that opens up, select the Sharing tab and click on Permission. In the subsequent window, select the user from the drop down menu and assign the requisite permissions.
Now log in on the Win 98 machine as a common user. You can access the shared resources seamlessly from a Win 98 machine on a Win XP machine. The reverse is also easy, that is, you can easily access shared resources on the Win 98 machine from XP. For this, all you need to do is to share the resources on the Win XP machine, by right clicking on them and enabling sharing.
Connecting Win XP to Win 2000 Professional
To configure a Win 2000 Professional client to access shared files on a Win XP machine you again need to create the same user account on both. Follow the procedure mentioned in the box (Creating Users) to do so. After this, put both the machines on the same workgroup. This way you should be able to access the shared folders and resources easily.
As the number of machines on the network increase, peer-to-peer networking becomes cumbersome, and you need to move over to a server-centric network, where all clients access a common server. In a pure Windows network, this server could act as a domain controller also. In a NetWare-based network, the server would host the NDS (Novell Directory Services) and all clients would authenticate against this. If you run a Linux server, running Samba will let you emulate Windows file sharing on it.
To create a user account on Win XP/2000 Professional, just right click on 'My Computer' and select Manage from the context menu, it will open a Computer Management console. Here, on the left panel click on the plus sign over 'Local users and groups', you will get two folders: Users and Groups. Double click on Users, and you will get the list of the users on the right panel. Now, right click on a blank area anywhere on the right panel, and select 'New User' from the context menu. This will open a dialog box, where you have to give the new user's name and password. Click on create, and then close the Computer Management console.
On Win 98/Me, go to Start>Settings>Control Panel and double click on the Users. Here create a new user. If you want to share files across Win 98/Me and Win 2000/XP, you will need user accounts with the same user name on both the machines.