Home Networking with Windows XP
Once you know the type of network that you are going to set up (for example, wireless, Ethernet/Fast Ethernet, phoneline, or powerline), you have to physically install your network adapters and connect everything (unless of course you are going 100 percent wireless). Then you'll need to install the following software components:
A Network adapter software driverProvides the operating system with the ability to communicate and control the network adapter.
Network protocolsThese protocols transport data over the network, using established sets of rules and standards. There must be a single common protocol running on every network computer. You'll have several to choose from but you want to make sure that you go with TCP/IP.
Network client softwareAllows a computer to access network resources such as network printers and disk drives. Without this software everything would be connected but none of your computers would be able to connect to and use any shared network resources.
Network servicesThis is the software component that allows a computer to share its resources. Without this piece of software there's no point to setting up your own network. After all, you are building this thing so that you can share resources among your computers.
If you are going to set up a hybrid home network using wireless and Ethernet, then all you'll have to do is plug a wireless access point into your Ethernet hub or switch. Otherwise you'll need to set up one of your computers with two network adapters. For example, if you created a home network using Ethernet and phoneline, then one adapter would be an Ethernet network adapter and the other would be a phoneline network adapter. Each of the network adapters will have its own software adapter, which you'll have to install. Otherwise you won't be able to use Windows XP to set up a network bridge and connect both parts of your home network.
If you have not finished the physical setup of your home network hardware, now is the time to do so. The rest of this chapter assumes that your computers are running Windows XP and that your hardware is in place and ready to go.
Remember that even though Windows XP is the example used throughout this book, you can still apply just about everything that you'll read to Windows 98, Me, and 2000.