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Buliding a home network

Posted on 2004-08-05
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Hi,
I'm planning to build a home network for my family  , I'd like to know what is the best ways to make thw network work perfectly without any problems , this network is built to let all the family members use the internet , it will be connected to a fast internet connection also .

I want you to recommend me the best OS i can use , whether it is windows 2000 advanced server or windows 2003 server enterprise edition  , also i want a recommendation on whether using a domain or workgroup and what is the best and easiest sofrware that can let me share the intermet and also split the bandwidth between the users to if any one is downloading something from the internet is doesn't slow down with the others .

Thanks
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Question by:Tariqalsada
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by:ngravatt
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For home, I would use Windows XP Pro on all the computers.  Unless you are planning on leaving a server up and running all the time.   If the Domain Controller (server) is ever turned off, none of the other computers will have network access.  With windows XP and a cable\DSL router, you do not have to have a server up and running al the time.

How many computers will be on the network?  Windows server works great, might as well go with 2003 since it has more features, but it seems like overkill.  Setting up a domain is pretty easy with server 2003, and it will allow you to have more features as opposed to using a workgroup.   I know to good software packages that help you throttle bandwidth, SurfControl and Websense.  

Let me know some more details before I continue...
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by:Yan_west
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I would not use a server for a home network. You can just attach 3-4-5 XP machines on a Broadband Router/Firewall, and make them all part of the same workgroup. You can also enable file security on each machine to limit the access to ressources by username.

A cheap linksys Broadband router/firewall (60-80 US$?) would be more then enough for this purpose, and it can serve you as a switch, and will share your internet connection.
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by:Yan_west
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Here is the product I would install on your network to connect your computer to, and to share your internet connection:

http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=34&scid=29&prid=561
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by:Tariqalsada
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Ok guys , I want something easy actually , is setting up a domain name a hard thing? i want something easy and can help me to manage this network , the network will have 5 pc's only .

I want something easy and don't make a headache for me everyday , i tried to setup a domain before but the internet was sometimes very slow and the other times not working.. that's why i'm afraid of it .

Thanks
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by:Yan_west
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I would not setup a domain, domain are mainly for corporate network, and require maintenance. Use a normal workgroup, and configure your TCP/IP protocol using DHCP, so the Linksys router will be able to provide all your PCs with their Internal Ip addresses. The speed of the internet will not be affected if you use this setup
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by:Tariqalsada
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The problem is that this product is not available in my country , i have a D-LINK hup , will this do it? i tried it and the speed was affected

regarding the dhcp , do you know any sites that have tutorials on how to set it up? also what OS do you recommend me to use?

thanks
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by:ngravatt
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use XP pro.  add all the computers to the same workgroup, then you will be able to 'network' between the compouters.  

Find a d-link device that acts as a router.  Most D-link devices that have router capabilities will also alloctae IP addresses (DHCP).
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by:ngravatt
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also, with the DLink router, there should be no setup involved when using DHCP.
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by:thecode101
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Definetly go with a router for networking and sharing internet, very easy setup (basically just plug it in) and very little to no maintence.
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by:Tariqalsada
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yes , but is there any routers that accepts more than 5 ports? and i want it wire and not wireless
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by:Tariqalsada
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also guys is there any way to do it without a router?  i just bought a new pc to use it as a server and don't want to pay more :-(
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by:Yan_west
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I would not do it without a router.. Yes you can do it, but it's more work, and well, it's not as clean :)

You can get this product from D-Link

http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=64

It's a 7 Port broadband router.. it does the job.
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by:Yan_west
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IF you want to share it via an XP Computer, here is an How-To

http://www.practicallynetworked.com/sharing/xp_ics/

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by:Tariqalsada
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and will it work fine with windows xp? i mean the speed and the other things
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by:crazijoe
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You can use a 4 port router in conjunction with your hub. You can add more switches and hubs to any router if you need to add more computers.
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CountRugen earned 25 total points
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I think there is one point here that has been overlooked.  In order to have more than one computer on the same broadband connection you MUST have a router.

Now, a server can act as a router but you will have to spend hundreds of dollars on the server software (unless you like Linux) and it will require no small amount of configuration (routing and remote access, Network Address Translation, for example).  A Small Office/Home Office router, on the other hand, will give you several benefits as well as costing less than $100.  First, setup will be minimal and simple.  Second, it will manage bandwidth for you so you won't notice the slow down like you do with the hub.  If you go with one server acting as the router, ALL internet traffic must pass through this server before it will go to any computer.  You'll still need to use the hub in the server scenario and that will give you the same slow down problems you were experiencing before.  A router handles this much more efficiently for many reasons.

For a home network there is NO reason for a non-IT person to be using a server unless you are planning to become an IT person and this is your learning environment.

As an alternative, you can use Internet Connection Sharing (which acts as a dumbed down router and NAT device) and the hub you already own.  Problems with this include the fact that you'll still be using that hub you have and will still notice a slow down when someone starts downloading large files.  Also, ICS has been known to be flaky at times.

Trust us on this, get a router.  Your life will be simpler for it.
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by:crazijoe
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I would still stick with the router. They are cheap. It's a lot easier to set up and it doesn't stick you computer where everybody can see it.
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by:Tariqalsada
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how check? i asked about some routers and they are $200+ , expensive as you can see .

and for now.. as i don't have a router and until i buy one do you recommend me any software that is better than ICS? i saw terrapin multinet it's cheap i think , but do you recommend me something better for us? not like websense wich is for large networks .
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by:crazijoe
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Where are you at that these routers cost so much????
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by:Yan_west
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ICS works fine with multiple computers, but trust me, use a router... :)
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by:Tariqalsada
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I'm in Qatar and the problem is that they are all wireless , no wire routers :-(  , it's a big problem actually , i'll have to use ICS
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by:CountRugen
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I would recommend visiting a retailer's website for the purchase.  The device that Yan_West linked to is the same device I use at home and it lists for $59.99 USD on www.bestbuy.com.  There are several others there in the same price range.
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by:Tariqalsada
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do you know any web site like bestbuy that can ship to countries outside usa?

thanks
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by:rid
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ICS is just asking for more problems. If you have a spare PC you can use freesco (www.freesco.org), very easily set up. Otherwise, as has been mentioned several times, a simple router (or router + switch unit) is the best way to go.

Domain - No
A server - No

Network your computers through a switch/hub (which may be part of the router...) and share your internet connection as well.
/RID
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by:Tariqalsada
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I will buy a router but not now , maybe after 3 days , freesco is for linux only and i want something for windows .
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by:rid
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Freesco is an operating system and a router software that converts any IBM compatible PC into an easily configurable home or small office router. It comes on one bootable floppy and is open source (free) software. This is not at all Linux-exclusive - it works with all Operating Systems that can use the internet, even windows.
/RID
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by:CountRugen
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Tariq,

Wow, I didn't think it would be this tough to find an outlet in the Middle East.  I'm looking though.
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by:Tariqalsada
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yeah , here it's hard to find networking equipments :-(
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by:CountRugen
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Okay, I'm not getting very far since I don't read or speak Arabic.  What might be useful to you though is to go to www.google.com and set your advanced search preferences to only search sites that are in Arabic and do a search.  Hopefully you will get more benefit from this than I am.

Good luck and if I find something I'll let you know.
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by:cooledit
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hi there

you wanna go with www.e-smith.org

A nice server easy to setup has it all:

Internet Gateway
SMTP relay
Firewall
Fileserver

Never saw anything easier to setup. Download and try

Installation runs in DOS mode after setup you can http access the server for maintenance.
Try it and let me hear what you think ITS FREE
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by:cooledit
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look at the (development site
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by:ngravatt
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buy router on ebay.  Find out what your ISP uses as the modem/router.  Then buy it on ebay.
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by:tbacavalier
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If you are feeling adventurous, have a little patience, and can obtain an old computer cheaply, or have one laying around (P2 or later based CPU (Pentium 2s generally come with more features on the motherboard than Pentium 1s, and take SD-RAM, which is still available if you need to chuck any more in), ~4GB HDD, 32-64MB RAM, and two NICs are the most important things) Linux is a perfect home Router/Firewall server. You can also run DHCP and other nicities like Bind (for your own DNS resolution) and Squid (a proxy) on it. Seeing as you have bought a new server, I imagine it would have decent components and you can really have some fun. Just make sure it has 2 network cards, connect one to your modem, and the other to a hub/switch/wireless access point that your clients are connected to.

Smoothwall is a good option with a minimum of effort:
http://www.smoothwall.org

IPCop is also a minimum of effort, and is arguably a better plug and play option than Smoothwall:
http://www.ipcop.org

Alternatively, if you want a challenge, install a Linux distribution, and start building.
Debian/Slackware make good bases for routers/firewalls:
http://www.debian.org/
http://www.slackware.com/

My personal favourite is Gentoo. I run everything from workstations to demo machines, routers and servers on Gentoo. A little complicated at first, and it usually requires a net connection while you are installing, but once you learn some basic Linux commands, and realise that emerge (the command you use to install programs) is pretty easy, you will be right. The installation handbook is extremely good. There is also a fantastic community around this project.
http://www.gentoo.org/ <- Gentoo Homepage
http://forums.gentoo.org/ <- Gentoo Forums

http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Firewall-HOWTO.html#toc9 <- Linux Firewall/Router guide

Once you have picked a distro and installed it, the first thing you will want to do is install a thing called iptables. This nifty little program allows you to create rulesets for inspecting packets coming into your machine, and then do things with them. You may need to compile a new kernel (the program that runs the operating system) to use iptables.
http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic.php?t=159133 <- iptables guide

Once you have IP tables up and running and have a correct ruleset, make sure your server has an internal address (192.168.1.1 is a nice easy one to remember) on the NIC connected to your LAN, and that the NIC connected to your modem is set to use DHCP. Turn off the server, turn off the modem, make sure everything is connected correctly, turn on the modem, turn on the server. As you probably won't have DHCP at this point, set the clients to use the internal address of the server as their gateway, give them internal addresses (eg, 192.168.1.2-192.168.1.254) and set the Primary DNS and Secondary DNS to your ISPs DNS servers (you may have to ring your ISP to obtain these if you cant write them down while a box is normally connected). Plug them into the hub/switch/ap connected to the server, and you should now be able to access the internet.

To limit network usage by certain users in order to make sure the connection is fast for everyone, there is a great script called Wondershaper:
http://lartc.org/wondershaper/

To set up DHCP, Bind (for DNS) and Squid (proxy), The Linux Documentation Project has everything you should need.
http://www.tldp.org
http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/DHCP/index.html <- DHCP How to
http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/DNS-HOWTO.html <- DNS How to
http://squid.visolve.com/squid/sqguide.htm <- Squid quickstart guide

Hope this helps.
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by:Tariqalsada
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Hi,

Regarding e-smith i just found developers version , can you please tell me where can i find the normal version?

thanks
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by:thecode101
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