Navigating the Neighborhood and a Few New Places

Navigating the Neighborhood and a Few New Places

Windows 9x and Windows NT Workstation have Network Neighborhood, while Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Me have My Network Places. In all of these cases, the respective icons, which are located on the Windows desktop, are used to access and display information about other PCs and the networked resources that are located on the same network segment as your PC.

Showing off the neighborhood

The Network Neighborhood and My Network Places icons work similarly to the My Computer icon, which is also located on the desktop. However, whereas My Computer displays the resources that are found on your PC, My Network Places or Network Neighborhood shows the resources that are found on the PC’s network.

My Network Places (which is meant to refer to both My Network Places and Network Neighborhood for the sake of brevity) displays a tree structure of the resources that are on the local network in a form similar to that used by Windows Explorer to display files and folders. In fact, Windows Explorer can also be used to display the network structure, if you prefer to use that tool. Figure shows the network connections for a Windows 98 PC that is connected to a Windows 2000 server.

Click To expand
Figure: The network resources that are available to a PC are displayed in Windows Explorer.

 Instant Answer  If you click the My Network Places icon and no PCs are shown, check to see whether you have enabled printer and file sharing and whether other PCs on the network have also set up resources to be shared.

Sharing and sharing alike

The My Network Places display or that in Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure, may include other workgroups and other PCs, but the display may also include public printers, CD-ROM drives, fax machines, and private devices. A private device is a peripheral device that is attached to a specific PC and owned by its user. Private devices, such as a printer, a hard drive, or even a DVD-ROM drive, must be shared by their owner before the following things happen:

  • They show up on your network resources display

  • You can access them

 Remember  One of the problems with sharing on a Windows system is that all resources, including those shared and those not shared, are displayed on the My Network Places and Network Neighborhood windows. Those that are shared have a special icon that includes a sharing hand to indicate that a share has been granted.

May we please have your name?

 Remember  Like the PCs that are shown in Figure, all resources on the network should have a computer name (used by the network) or a share name (used by users to whom permission has been granted).

Creating a computer name for a PC and assigning it to either a domain or a workgroup is typically done during installation of the Windows operating system. However, you can complete this step later (things can change in a networked environment).

To assign a computer name to a Windows 98 PC, use the following steps:

  1. Choose Start ® Settings ® Control Panel ® Network to access the Network dialog box.

  2. Choose the Identification tab in the Network dialog box (see Figure). Complete the text boxes as follows:

    Click To expand
    Figure: The Identification tab of the Network dialog box.

    • Enter the computer name in the Computer Name text box.

      Use only alphabetic characters (a to z and A to Z) and numeric characters (0 to 9) for this name. Avoid the use of punctuation and other special characters.

    • Enter the name of the workgroup of which this computer is a mem-ber. Most of the time, this name is Workgroup, but your network administrator may have customized the name. It does happen! Only PCs in the same workgroup can see each other across the network. So, if a network has more than one workgroup, each workgroup must obviously have a different name. For this and the next entry, check with your network administrator.

    • Enter a descriptive phrase in the Computer Description text box. You can enter just about anything you want, but keep it simple.

    • Click OK, and continue to click OK until you are returned to the desktop. Reboot your PC if you are asked to do so.

On Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Me systems, these fields were most likely entered during installation. However, if you want to change them, click Change on the Identification tab in the Network dialog box, and make your changes. The guidelines that I recommended for Windows 98 still apply.

Getting ready to share

After a Windows 98 PC has been configured to connect to a network (see Chapter 23), it is configured as a stand-alone network client. To access shared network devices, the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks service must be installed and enabled on the PC.

 Remember  On Windows NT, 2000, XP, or Me PCs, the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks service is automatically enabled during installation. In the event that this didn’t happen, use the following steps to install and activate this service:

  1. Open the Network icon on the Control Panel.

    (See the section, “May we please have your name?” earlier in this chapter, for the required steps.)

  2. Click the File and Print Sharing button on the Configuration tab in the Network dialog box.

  3. Based on what you are willing to share — your files or your printer — select one or both of the check boxes in the File and Print Sharing dialog box that displays (see Figure).

    Click To expand
    Figure: File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks allows you to share files, printers, or both.

  4. Click OK, and continue to click OK until you are asked to reboot your PC.

  5. Reboot the PC.

Granting shares to devices

Just as you can’t access something that you can’t see in My Network Places, other network users can’t access your resources if they can’t see them or don’t know that they can see them. To create a network share, which opens access to a device or a folder on a drive to others, use the steps that are listed in Labs 24-1 or 24-2.

Lab 24-1: Creating a Share on a Peripheral Device
Start example
  1. Open My Computer from the desktop.

  2. Right-click the device for which you want to create a share.

    For example, to share a printer, open the Printers folder and right-click the printer that you want to share, as shown in Figure.

    Click To expand
    Figure: To share a printer with all or some of the other network users, access the Sharing function in the Properties dialog box of the device that you want to share.

     Instant Answer  To hide a shared device from the My Network Places display, place a $ (dollar sign) at the end of the share name. This indicates to the system that this is a hidden share.

  3. From the pop-up menu that appears, choose Sharing.

  4. On the Sharing tab or in the dialog box that appears, enter a share name (and a comment, if you want to).

  5. Enter a password (optional).

    Whether you enter a password depends on whether you plan to limit access to the device or allow all users to access it. To grant access to the device to only a select group or a single user, create a password that you share with only those to whom you grant access. To allow any network user to access the device, entering a password may be unnecessary.

  6. Click OK, and respond Yes when asked if you want to restart the PC.

End example

One final bit of information about share names is that you can assign as many share names as you want to a single device, and each device can have (or not have) its own password.

Sharing a folder

It is common practice among users on peer-to-peer networks and users that belong to the same workgroup to share folders and files. As with hardware devices, file sharing can be restricted or unrestricted. The procedures that are used to share a file for Windows 98, NT, and 2000 are similar. To set up a share on a folder, use the steps that are shown in Lab 24-2.

The process that you use to create a share on a drive’s folder is similar to that used to add a share on a hardware device (see Lab 24-1). Lab 24-2 focuses on the steps that are unique to opening a share on a data folder.

Lab 24-2: Creating a Network Share on a Windows 98 Folder
Start example
  1. Access the folder that you want to share by using Windows Explorer or by navigating through the My Computer icons.

    You could also use the Search or Find function to locate the folder.

  2. Right-click the folder that you want to share, and choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears.

  3. In the Properties dialog that opens (see Figure), select the Sharing tab.

    Click To expand
    Figure: The Sharing tab of a folder’s Properties dialog box.

  4. To share the file, choose the Shared As option.

    If a share has been granted to the C:\ folder (the root folder on the hard drive), the following message displays above the Not Shared/Shared As option buttons: Already Shared Via C:\. If you want to grant access to your entire hard drive, the share that is on C:\ has taken care of that. However, to share only certain folders, I recommend removing the share at C:\ (unless you want to place passwords on every folder that you don’t want to share).

  5. Choose the level of access that you want to grant: read-only (no changes) or full access (read, write, modify, and remove).

    You can also choose both and grant access to the folder based on the password entered.

    To grant just read-only permission, enter a password in the Read-only Password text box. To grant full access, enter a password in the Full-Access Password text box. However, to establish read-only access for some users and full access for others, choose Depending on Password, and enter passwords in both text boxes.

  6. Click Apply, and then click OK.

    I recommend restarting the PC immediately to set the permission that you’ve just entered.

  7. Verify the share by viewing the shared folder.

    If the share was successful, the icon for the folder should now look like a folder being held in a hand (see Figure).

    Figure: The right icon is a shared folder; the left icon is unshared.

End example

Sharing a Windows XP file

Windows XP introduced new methods for sharing a PC’s resources with other network users that include protections for a PC’s owners when creating shares. For example, Windows XP replaced password-based access, which had inherent problems, with two share security alternatives, Access Control Lists and Simple File Sharing. These are described as follows:

  • Access Control List (ACL): This option, also available in Windows 2000, is used to create a list of users and to indicate what permissions they have been granted for each shared resource.

  • Simple File Sharing (SFS): SFS is like an on/off type of method to grant access to a resource. A user has the choice of sharing a file or making the document private; the latter is the choice that is shown on the Sharing and Security dialog box for a resource.

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