By Bob Catanzarite
Home Network Wiring and Setup - Chapter 4
Configuring Your PC's Operating System for a Network
I'll just deal here with windows. Sorry, that's the only operating system I use. And actually I'm going to refer you to other sites who have already described this process better that I can.
This link to homenethelp.com will guide you through the process of setting up Windows 98, 98SE, ME, 2000 and XP to work with a network. This process is a bit intimidating but is really not all that complicated.
Another excellent source of help with network configuration is J. Helmig's http://www.wown.info/ . This site has a LOT of information but is a bit difficult to find your way around. In addition some of the information now requires a paid registration fee of $8.
Although the focus of this Steve Gibson page is increasing the security of your network configuration, it helps you to understand how to configure networking on your PC.
One thing I do want to stress to you here is network security. If you don't configure windows properly you can end up with a network that leaves ALL of your file EXTREMELY VULNERABLE to snoops and intruders - and hacking this kind of network is VERY EASY!
The single most dangerous network configuration is one that enables 'File and Printer Sharing'. File and Printer sharing allows the PC's on your LAN to - guess - share files and printers. This is something most home networks will want to take advantage of. But, when you enable this file and print sharing service on your Windows PC the Microsoft DEFAULT setting leave your system vulnerable. Microsoft seems to care less about the security of your home network. If you use a Microsoft operating system then you'll HAVE to alter the default networking setting to dramatically increase the security of your network.
This link to Steve Gibson's website explains the danger in how Microsoft's default network settings leave your PC seriously vulnerable to hackers and how to configure things to be more secure. Very good reading!
Practically Networked has a very good 'How To' on securing your network that has File and Print Sharing enabled. This makes it about as easy as it gets.