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Adding a Windows PC to your network

It's inevitable, really. You get a Windows PC and you want to connect it to your home network, but what can you expect to be able to do? Well, it's possible, at some level, to do most things that you can do between your Acorn machines. You can share Acorn discs to the PC, and access the PC's discs from Acorn machines. You can print to PC printers, and to a limited extent, use Acorn-shared printers from the PC. The PC can use an Acorn proxy server to access Internet web pages via an Acorn machine, or you can use the PC to connect to the Internet and run a proxy server on the PC. This last example is not complex, but beyond the scope of this document, so it won't be covered any more here.

I shall cover only specifics of Windows 95 here. Windows 98 and Windows 2000 are ostensibly the same -- a few of the options may have moved around, but the general principles are the same.

Setting up the PC's network card

It's up to you to get your PC hardware recognised... this is not particularly hard. You should also install networking. Now to set it up. Click on "My computer" on the desktop, and double-click "Control Panel" then double click "Network" on the control-panel window. The following window will appear:

[Image 13]

You should ensure that the "TCP/IP", "NetBEUI" and "NetBIOS" protocols are enabled for your ethernet card (in this case, we see an NE2000 compatible card. Select "TCP/IP -> Ethernet card" as shown above, and click on "Properties". You should see the following window: (Click on the "IP Address" tab if required)

[Image 14]

As always, we need to choose a name and IP for this machine. In keeping with the numbering and naming we chose for the Acorn machines, we shall add the following to our "Hosts" file:    donkey.my.home      donkey

Remember to add this to ALL the "hosts" files on all of your machines, both Acorn and PC! (The PC's hosts file can be found as C:\WINDOWS\HOSTS  )

We also need to keep Window's "LMHOSTS" file correct... copy your "HOSTS" file as "LMHOSTS" in the same directory (there may already be one, if so, overwrite it). Now edit "LMHOSTS". Delete the full name of each host from every line, leaving just the IP and short host name, like this:    donkey

It's very important to do this, and ensure you have entries for all non-Windows machines on your network, or you won't be able to access them!

We must now enter this in to the window as shown. Click on "Specify an IP address" and enter the IP address and NetMask for the PC. Now we'll move to the next tab - "WINS Configuration":

[Image 15]

We don't need this, so just ensure that "Disable WINS Resolution" is selected. Move on to the next tab - "Gateway":

[Image 16]

As with the basic Acorn networking set up, we don't actually need to specify this for a simple network, but it's a good idea to put something in - the IP of the machine with the modem. Enter the IP in to the "New gateway" icon, then click on "Add" and it should move in to the "Installed gateways" list. Move on to the next tab now - "DNS Configuration":

[Image 17]

We don't actually use a DNS server in this basic home networking situation, but we should specify our name and network here. Select the "Enable DNS" box, then enter the PC's host name in to the "Host" field, and the network name in to the "Domain" field. Finally, click on the "Bindings" tab:

[Image 18]

Just ensure that "Client for Microsoft Networks" and "File and printer sharing for Microsoft Networks" are both selected. Click on "OK" to confirm all these settings.

Back to the base network control panel, and click on the "Identification" tab:

[Image 19]

You should enter the "Computer name" the same as the host name you specified for TCP/IP -- anything else causes headache and confusion. Enter any appropriate name in to the "Workgroup" field, and a description for your PC. Now click on the "Access Control" tab:

[Image 20]

Ensure that "Share-level access control" is selected for easiest access.

Finally, click on "OK". You'll probably have to find your Windows™ installation CD-ROM and reboot at this point.

Sharing the PC's resources to RISC OS

Now you need to share some discs or folders. Click on "My computer" then on the drive, or folder that you want to share. Click the righthand mouse button over the item to display a menu, and choose "Sharing...":

[Image 21]

Now you should have a dialogue box in which to enter the details for the share:

[Image 22]

Select "Shared As:" then enter a name for the share. The default is the same as the object you selected, but you will need to remove any spaces from the name. Enter a comment if you wish. For most purposes, you'll want to select "Full" Access type so that you can write to this share from your Acorn machines, as well as read. Click on "OK" and you're done.

Now you need to check that it's all working. You've only got one real choice for accessing the PC's shares, and that's OmniClient. OmniClient is sold by ANT Ltd but some users may also have a version which was distributed with on the !Browse CD. Load it. Open the iconbar menu, and choose "Mounts -> Protocols -> LAN Manager". The following window will appear:

[Image 23]

With LanManager you can give any name you wish to the PC Share you're about to connect to, but it's probably sane to use the same name as the share itself! Enter the server name, and the directory path, just as you shared it on the PC. Finally, click "Connect". The iconbar icon should change to show a light blue triangle, with the name you gave the share beneath it. Click on the icon to open the filer window for that share.

You may notice that some of the PC's filenames have been truncated to their DOS 7 munged form (eg "PROGRA~1" rather than "Program Files") this is because LanManager doesnt 'know' about long filenames. I strongly recommend that if you're going to be working with the PC in this way, that you invest in a copy of !LanMan98 from Warm Silence Software. This is an addon for OmniClient that "knows" about Long filenames and also fixes some other problems. In the display below, I've mounted the same PC directory with LanMan, on the left, and with LanMan98, on the right. Notice the filenames.

[Image 24]

Now let's share the PC's printer to RISC OS. Install your printer as usual on the PC, then go to the printer control window (Start -> Settings -> Printers). Select the printer that you wish to share, and shoose "Sharing..." from the menu. Give a sensible (short, no spaces) name to the share, and if you like, add a description. Click OK.

[Image PCPRN1]

Now load !Printers and !Omni on your RISC OS machine. Drag a matching printer definition file to the !Printers icon on the icon bar. (Eg, we have an HP Laser Jet 4 printer on the PC, so we must drag a matching HP.LasJet-4 file to !Printers). Open the printer control window, and select the new printer. Click Menu and choose "Connection..." from the menu. Select "File" as the connection type. Now comes the weird bit! Currently, printing to a LanManager server (ie a Windows PC) requires that you print to a very special filename, using a filing system provided by Omniclient. The format of the filename you need to enter is documented in the Omniclient manual, and is as follows:


The parts in bold should be set to your PC's hostname and printer name. In our example, we have a PC called "donkey" with a printer which we shared as "Laserjet4" so the filename would be:


[Image PCPRN2]

You should now be able to print from RISC OS as usual.

The flip side -- accessing RISC OS resources from the PC

Until very recently, this was not possible, but thanks to the great work of David Buxton, porting Linux's "SMB" server to RISC OS, it is now possible. Get hold of at least version 0.05 of !smbserver from David's website. The !Help within !smbserver is quite thorough and details how you should set it up to share resources to the PC, but for completeness I'll recap the basics here.

Update: v0.08 of !Smbserver can be downloaded from the Sourceforge Project page at http://riscossmbserver.sourceforge.net/

Load !smbserver and choose "Configure..." from it's iconbar menu. Click on the "smbserver" icon in the configuration window and enter a suitable server string and workgroup to match your PC (currently this appears to be bugged...)

[Image PCPRN3]

Click on "OK" to close the window. Now we need to share some discs and printers, so click on the "Shares" icon in smbserver's configuration window and the Shares window will open -- intially, empty. Click Menu and use the "New Share ->" option to create a new share. Personally, I like to keep these SMB shares the same as the Acorn Access shares, but you don't need to. As an example, we will share the whole disc of "Cheetah", so we enter that name in to the share creation dialogue, and click OK. You should now see the disc appear in the Shares window. Double-click on it to set it's properties: Give the share a quick description, and set the pathname that this share should relate to (eg ADFS::4.$). Clear the "read only" option if you want to be able to write to this share from the PC. Finally, click "OK".

[Image PCPRN4]

Repeat the above process as many times as you require.

We can now also add a shared printer. Printing to SMB simply copies a file, so you'll need to create a directory to use as the "print spool". I use ADFS::4.$.!Boot.Resources.!Scrap.ScrapDirs.Samba but it can be anywhere you like. Create a share as before, calling it the name of your printer (eg DeskJet) and entering the name of the directory to use as the spool. Be sure to clear the "read only" option, and set the "printable" option. Click "OK". You should see that the printer share has a printer icon!

[Image PCPRN5]

Click on "Save" in the main smbserver configuration window. That's it for setting up the RISC OS side of things -- now for the PC!

With !smbserver running on the RISC OS machine (in our example, "cheetah") you can now simply use Windows Explorer to get to it's shares. Just enter \\machine in to the explorer window and you should see all discs and printers on that machine:

[Image PCPRN6]

If you find that Windows gives an error such as "Cannot find the file or item '\\Cheetah'" then you've probably not got your "LMHOSTS" file set up correctly. See the notes above on how to create "LMHOSTS" from your "HOSTS" file.

Clearly, now, you can just go ahead and use the shared directories you see, just as usual. You may want to use "Tools -> Map network drive" to make shared directories appear as real drives on the PC. I'd advise that you don't use the "Reconnect at logon" option, or you may find that your PC takes hours to boot up if your RISC OS machine is switched off or not running !smbserver.

To use the shared RISC OS printer on the PC, simply select it from the Windows Explorer window, pop up the menu and choose "Install". Be sure to select the matching printer type when asked.

Currently, your RISC OS machine will not show up in the "Local Network" window. This appears to be a bug in the RISC OS port of Samba (!smbserver). Update: I believe this is fixed in the new version of !smbserver


This page was written by Ian Jeffray and hosted on his website until 2002, it is now available here with permission
MJPye.org.uk site design and layout Copyright 2003
Matthew Pye. All Rights Reserved.