Construct Your Own Local Area Network (LAN)


By Houan Li                                                                                              
Last Revised: April 4th 2007     
          

The purpose of this article is to show the steps of how to create a small size LAN (Local Area Network) based on Microsoft Windows Operating System. The complicated concepts will be neglected and only basic knowledge of LAN's construction will be introduced. Wireless technology will not be discussed in this article.

Contents

The Definition of LAN


A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and associated devices that share the resources of a single processor or server within a small geographic area (for example, within a home or an office building).

The Characteristic of LAN


The LAN The LAN can cover up to 10 km in diameters (typically around 1km) and serve as many as thousands or as few as two or three users. The transfer speed is much higher than WAN (Wide Area Networks); typically around 1 to 10 Mbits/sec.Transmission medium is shared by all devices, and transmission is normally in the form of packetsThe LAN shares resources even among incompatible equipments, i.e., machines ranging from terminals, Personal Computers, etc. running different software (operating systems, file systems, etc.)

The Composition of LAN


Usually, a small size LAN is composed of Server, Client, transmission medium and equipments for networking.
Server is the kernel of LAN, which runs network operating system to provide sharing services. Client is a standalone machine which runs its own operating system to access the sharing resources provided from Server. The current transmission medium we are using includes twisted-pair, coaxial-cable and fiber optic cable. Networking equipment includes network interface card, hub, switch, router etc.


The Configurations


Server Side Configurations:
 
Steps for Windows 2000 Pro

1.    Change settings for TCP/IP
"Control Panel""Network and Dialup Connections""Local Area Connection" "Properties" "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)"

2.    Click Properties button, Choose "Use the following IP address" option, input IP address and Subnet mask information as below:
IP address: 192.168.10.1, Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Choose "Use the following DNS server addresses" option, input DNS information as below:
Preferred DNS server: 192.168.10.1

Click "Advanced" button. In page "Advanced TCP/IP Setting", choose Add option to add IP addresses and subnet masks for Web, FTP and Mail services as follow:
For Web server,   set IP address:  192.168.10.11    Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
For FTP server,    set IP address:  192.168.10.12    Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0
For Mail Server,    set IP address:  192.168.10.13    Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

3.    Open the file:"\winnt\system32\Drivers\etc\hosts" with Notepad editor or other editors and input the following lines after "127.0.0.1 localhost" and save the file.
192.168.10.11 www.howard.com
192.168.10.12 ftp.howard.com
192.168.10.13 mail.howard.com

4.    Install Internet Information Services (IIS) for Web, FTP and Mail server. Select "Control Panel""Add or Remove Programs". Simply choose everything and install. You may be asked to insert Windows 2000 Installation CD.

5.    Select "Control Panel" "Administrative Tools" "Internet Information Service" "default web site" "Properties" "IP address"
Choose "192.168.10.11",
and eave everything else as default.

6.    Select "Control Panel" "Administrative Tools" "Internet Information Service" "default ftp site" "Properties" "IP address"
Choose "192.168.10.12", and leave everything else as default.

7.    We select the third-party software: MDaemon Server as mail server software since it is more secure and easier to use. First download the software from MDaemon Website, and then install it. Input the following information during the installation.
Domain name: howard.com
For first account:
        Full Name: houanli
        Mail Box: houanli
        Password: "what ever you want here"
Primary DNS IP Address: 192.168.10.1
Run MDaemon in "Easy" mode, and leave everything else as default.

8.    Reboot the computer.

Steps for Windows XP Pro

The settings are very similar between Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional; the differences between these two Systems have been highlighted as below. 

1.    Select "Control Panel" "Network Connections" "Local Area Connection" "Properties" "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)"

2.    This step is exactly same as it under Windows 2000 Professional, Please check Windows 2000 settings above.

3.    Open the file:"\windows\system32\Drivers\etc\hosts" with Notepad editor or other editorsYou may see more than one line configurations in this file. You can simply add these three lines at the end of the file and save it.
192.168.10.11 www.howard.com
192.168.10.12 ftp.howard.com
192.168.10.13 mail.howard.com

4.    Install Internet Information Services (IIS) for Web, FTP and Mail server. Select "Control Panel""Add or Remove Programs". Simply choose everything and install. You may be asked to insert Windows XP Installation CD.

5.    Select "Control Panel" "Administrative Tools" "Internet Information Service" "web site" "default web site" "Properties" "IP address"
Choose "192.168.10.11", and leave everything else as default.

6.    Select Control Panel "Administrative Tools" "Internet Information Service" "ftp site" "default ftp site" "Properties" "IP address"
Choose "192.168.10.12", and leave everything else as default.

7.    Step for Mail Server is same as it under Windows 2000 Professional, please check settings above.

8.    Reboot the computer.

Client Side Configurations

The configurations on Clients are relative easy compared with the ones on the Server. Start from Step 1 as below to install TCP/IP protocol if it is not installed on Client machine or start from Step 2 if TCP/IP protocol has been installed

1.    Follow the steps below to install TCP/IP Protocol, select Control Panel" "Network and DialUp Connections" "Local Area Connection" "Properties" "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)". For Windows XP follow the steps as below, select "Control Panel" "Network Connections" "Local Area Connection" "Properties" "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)"

2.    Choose "TCP/IP protocol""Properties", select "Use the following IP address" option, input IP address and subnet mask information as below:
IP address: 192.168.10.2, Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Select "Use the following DNS server addresses" option, input DNS information as below:
Preferred DNS server: 192.168.10.1

3.    Open the file:"\winnt\system32\Drivers\etc\hosts" with Notepad editor or other editors and input the following lines at the end of the file and save it.
192.168.10.11 www.howard.com
192.168.10.12 ftp.howard.com
192.168.10.13 mail.howard.com
 For Windows XP, open the file "\windows\system32\Drivers\etc\hosts" and do the same job.

4.    Configure OUTLOOK to send and receive emails. Assume the account has been setup on the Server side and use the following information for POP3 and SMTP.
Incoming mail server (POP3): mail.howard.com
Outgoing mail server (SMTP): mail.howard.com

5.    Reboot the computer.

FAQ and External Links


l  How to configure Outlook?

l  How to reset Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in Windows?

l  How do I troubleshoot basic network connectivity?

l  How can I get my machines to show up in LAN?

l  The LAN Glossary

References


l  Local Area Network

l  Windows Networking

l  Microsoft MSDN

l  MDaemon Mail Server