Linux and IBM NetVista Computers


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Thread: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

  1. #1
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    Question Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Greetings, everyone.

    I recently won an IBM NetVista in a drawing from my local Computer Renaissance. It has a 40-GB hard drive, 512 MB of RAM, a floppy drive, and a CD-ROM drive. The graphics card is not part of the motherboard, but is "built in," I was told.

    The machine comes preloaded with Windows XP Professional. The machine is well-refurbished, so it cannot be too old, but I don't have access to the model number at the moment. (I can get it, however.)

    I have read at least one comment in the JustLinux forums indicating that the NetVista computer is somewhat lacking in quality. Does anyone have any experience with the NetVista?

    Finally, and most importantly, is anyone running Linux on a NetVista? I would like to use this machine as a server for a training kit I have for learning PHP and MySQL (using the included SuSE Linux 9 server), and my client machine will be running SuSE Linux 10.1.

    Thank you, in advance, for your help!

    Cordially,

    David
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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    Yeah, I ran Suse 9.3 on a couple of older NetVista's about 6 months ago or so. The only major problem I had with them hardware-wise was that one had crappy Intel graphics and it refused to go above 640x480 until I manually set my monitor refresh rates. As far as the overall quality goes, the only chronic problem I'm aware of with ours (hundreds, so some failures are inevitable) is that I hear we've had a lot of motherboards go bad. I don't deal with the maintenance of them that much, so I can't say for sure how many of them that actually was though. It may be be model-specific too, so you might not need to worry about it.

    So Linux should run just fine, and if you have problems with it, who cares? It was free.

  3. #3
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    Question Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, 'cyberton'.
    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    Yeah, I ran Suse 9.3 on a couple of older NetVista's about 6 months ago or so. The only major problem I had with them hardware-wise was that one had crappy Intel graphics and it refused to go above 640x480 until I manually set my monitor refresh rates. As far as the overall quality goes, the only chronic problem I'm aware of with ours (hundreds, so some failures are inevitable) is that I hear we've had a lot of motherboards go bad. I don't deal with the maintenance of them that much, so I can't say for sure how many of them that actually was though. It may be be model-specific too, so you might not need to worry about it.

    So Linux should run just fine, and if you have problems with it, who cares? It was free.
    Thank you for your helpful message.

    I set up this exact same NetVista computer for my sister and brother-in-law. (It's the "Windoze" XP computer for my brother-in-law and the kids.)

    The only problem I noticed with it is that I swapped out the CD-ROM drive for a CD-RW drive and WinXP Pro would not recognize it, even though I'd removed the old drive via Device Manager and XP automatically loaded the driver for the CD-RW.

    I just kept repeating the process until it worked. Perhaps their motherboard is failing? Time will tell, I guess.

    I plan to install SuSE Enterprise 9 Server on the NetVista and use it as a MySQL database server for learning purposes. The exercise will also give me some practice in networking two Linux boxes together. (My production machine runs SuSE Linux 10.1)

    I assume that I'll need to add a second NIC to the NetVista if I want it to access the Internet. (I have a cable-modem Internet connection.) Do I need to add a second NIC to my production machine? (All of the PCI slots are full.)

    I am adding two machines to my router/switch/firewall, and all of the ports are full, so I guess I need to get a hub -- although someone strongly suggested that I get a switch instead, which seems redundant to me. What do you think, 'cybertron'?

    Thanks, again!

    Cordially,

    David
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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    Well, despite the fact that XP is supported by almost all major hardware manufacturers, its hardware recognition can be pretty spotty sometimes. It may not have anything to do with your hardware, especially if it worked fine after that.

    The only reason you would need a second nic is if you won't be connecting to the internet through your router. Otherwise both your Linux machines should be able to talk to each other and the internet through a single interface. As far as hub vs. switch goes, a hub would probably be fine for you but they're really hard to find these days. Switches are better for almost everything (except packet sniffing which you most likely will never do) and these days they cost as much or less than hubs. Basically switches are more intelligent hubs that make your network run better than hubs would. You can daisy chain as many of them as you want so it's not really redundant (although if you daisy chain a lot of them it will hurt your network performance, but again that shouldn't affect you). All it's doing is splitting the one port that it's plugged in to into many ports that you can plug more devices into.

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    Question Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, 'cybertron'.

    Thank you very much for your message.

    Obviously, I have been using my Macsense XRouter Pro (MIH-130A) purely for sharing cable modem Internet access for the computers in my home. I bought it about four years ago when I had only three computers. (I was dual-booting Linux and Windows, but now have the luxury of being able to set up separate Linux and Windows machines; I rarely use Windows anymore, which is a good feeling.)

    The Macsense MIH-130A supports Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. It is made basically for sharing an Internet connection and it divides bandwidth among the computers accessing the Internet.

    It has a firewall and doubles as a 4-port 10/100 switch to provide networking services, such as file sharing, printer sharing, and network gaming at high speeds of 10Mbps and 100Mbps -- although I must admit that I have never tried to set it up for the latter features (no need). I do have it configured, for security reasons, not to respond to random pings.

    The device has the following features:

    - Built-in Switch: A four N-way 10/100 base-T switch that also includes an additional uplink port.

    Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP): The XRouter Pro's DHCP server automatically configures TCP/IP addresses on LAN computers.

    - Web-based Management: The ability to configure the device via any Web browser and to set a password for it.

    - Virtual Server: Internet users can access WWW and FTP servers through the virtual server-mapping function of the XRouter Pro.

    - Access Control: Control access to specific Web sites on a LAN that may be inappropriate by using the built-in block or allow URL access control feature (unneeded).

    - RIP: Send and receive RIP packets to other routers on the Internet. XRouter Pro will learn the routes used by neighboring routers to increase routing performance.

    - Static Routing: Allows XRouter Pro's LAN to communicate with another router on the LAN and communicate with their respective LAN segment (not applicable).

    The only complaint I have about this router/switch/firewall is that I increasingly have to reset it. My first cable/broadband ISP (@Home) offered static IP addresses, but they went out of business and Comcast.net filled the void, offering dynamic IP addresses only.

    Initially, I thought that I was having to reset the router because it was not picking up its new IP address from the DHCP server when the lease expired, but the lease for an IP address is supposed to be ten days. I upgraded to the latest firmware, but to no avail.

    Macsense does not offer switches with more than 4-ports. I just checked Newegg.com for switches. (My search for the word "hub" yielded no results at all, which supports your statement that hubs are hard to find.)

    I originally started out with a Linksys switch, but it simply stopped working after a few weeks, so I have hesitated to try another Linksys switch, although I use their NICs, because of their compatibility with Linux.

    I found a Netgear (Model FS108) ProSafe (10/100Mbps) desktop switch with 8 RJ-45 Ports (1K MAC address table - 96k buffer memory) on Newegg for $44.99 that has very high ratings (eleven, all excellent). The price is a fraction of what I paid for the Macsense switch, but it seems to be a worthy replacement/upgrade. The Netgear switch also has a five-year warranty, as opposed to the Macsense's one-year warranty.

    The problem is that I really cannot afford to spend any more money on hardware right now. (In addition, I have three computers out of four in one room, and it's getting rather croweded, noisy, and warm!)

    I obviously need to do some more research. I could always run MySQL and PHP with SuSE Linux 10.1 and just not use the server, even if it is free. (I can always find a use for it later.)

    I will continue to search Google/Linux, 'cybertron', to see if I can come up with a solution.

    In addition, I will check to see if there is another firmware update for the Macsense switch -- which I doubt. I actually had to reset the Macsense switch while writing this message, and I just reset it yesterday.

    If there is no firmware update, I will try to reach Macsense support, even though the product is out of warranty. If Macsense support cannot provide any assistance, I may post a separate query here in JustLinux. I have not seen any other posts about having to reset a switch so frequently.

    In addition, I may try powering down the cable modem and the Macsense switch overnight and disconnecting them, leaving them both off overnight, to see if I can "flush things out." Resetting the switch with a paperclip on a regular basis is a real hassle, and I can find no pattern with this problem.

    I realize that I have gotten off-topic, and I thank you for your time and patience!

    Thanks, again, for your consideration and help, 'cybertron'!

    Cordially,

    David

    P.S. -- By the way, 'cybertron', I just noticed the line in your signature in memory of Mike Watts. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your short, but meaningful tribute. I have almost 80 personal messages from Mike saved, so I am basically at my PM limit. I just cannot bear to delete them, because Mike was offering me encouragement and help, with Linux and life, despite his battle with cancer.

    I will always remember Mike with the deepest respect and appreciation.
    Last edited by DavidMD; 07-24-2006 at 08:10 PM. Reason: Addition of Postscript
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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    Question Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, again, 'cybertron'!
    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    ....The only reason you would need a second nic is if you won't be connecting to the internet through your router. Otherwise both your Linux machines should be able to talk to each other and the internet through a single interface.....
    Thank you again for taking the time and having the patience to respond to my concern about the IBM NetVista and Linux.

    I have been searching Google for Linux (G4L) using phrases such as "Linux networking" and "Linux networks," in combination with words such as "switch," to try to find a tutorial on setting up the interface correctly so that all of the computers in my home can use the Macsense router/switch/firewall, not only to share the Internet (which is basically as simple as plugging the CAT-5 cables into the switch and the individual computers), but to get my SuSE/Novell 10.1 Linux machine connected to the IBM NetVista running SuSE Enterprise 9 Server and MySQL. (I still have to set up both machines.)

    Naturally, I am also consulting my switch's owner's manual, which I finally found on a bookcase. (The manual is quite thin.)

    I am rather embarrassed to admit to such a large audience that I do not actually have a home network, but simply a secure method to share a cable-modem Internet connection. If I have two Linux machines "in the picture," then -- for the first time -- I have the actual need for the two computers to communicate, because of this project.

    With five computers, I have one more computer (and, thus, one less port on the four-port switch) than I need. I hope that I am picturing the network in my head as you describe it, 'cybertron'.

    Obviously, if each computer, except the NetVista, is connected to the switch, then the NetVista cannot connnect to the switch because there is not port on the switch for it.

    If I connect my SuSE/Novell 10.1 Linux machine directly to the NetVista (running SuSE 9 Enterprise Server), then the SuSE/Novell 10.1 computer has no Internet access.

    I would appreciate recommendations from anyone about setting up Linux networking, as I describe in my situation. In addition, am I one port short, or do I have one computer too many

    While I wait for someone to get through my thick, inexperienced skull, I will follow the universally appropriate advice: "RTFM" and continue my research on-line (JustLinux and the Web), as well as searching through my personal library of books on Linux. I obviously have taken a simple problem and overanalyzed it, making it much to complicated than it actually is.

    I would very much appreciate the patient perspective of anyone willing to offer even some help!

    I am not concerned about the Windows XP Pro, Windows XP Home, or Mac OS X computers sharing files or peripherals, but I would like to get the two Linux machines networked (with a MySQL server and client relationship).

    Finally, I do fear that I am one port short on the switch, and my financial situation is rather tight right now (mainly because of a lengthy hospital stay in June).

    If I am a port short, perhaps I can temporarily disconnect one of the Windows machines from the switch. As I have written above, I have not used my Windows XP Pro computer in a very long time, which I have to admit is a nice feeling.

    I thank you, 'cybertron', and anyone else who can point me to relevant Web and/or printed resources, in advance.

    I am particularly grateful for everyone's patience! My ignorance has caused this thread to become much too long, and I sincerely apologize!

    Again, thank you!

    Cordially,

    David
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


    Registered Linux User # 315892
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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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    Okay, as I understand it, you're thinking about directly connecting the two Linux machines with just a cable, right? I wouldn't recommend that. Although you can do it, I'm pretty sure you still need to get a special type of cable or it won't work, and it's much easier if you can connect to the same network as the rest of your computers (it sounds like you do have a home network, you're just not using it as such).

    I guess your only option aside from buying another switch is to disconnect one of the other machines. That wouldn't have to be a permanent move either obviously. You can always do it now temporarily and when your finances improve get another switch. It's a little more hassle, but you can also swap the port between more than one computer too.

    My guess is that you don't need an 8 port switch either, unless you're planning on growing your home network significantly in the next couple of years. Probably one of the cheap 5 port ones on NewEgg (for example) would do just fine in your case. Remember that you can keep using all but one of the ports on your current built-in switch (the one port being the one the new switch would plug into). I can't really make a recommendation on which brands are best because honestly I've talked to people who don't like just about all of them and my own personal experience is nowhere near enough to base an opinion on. Probably the best suggestion I can give is to read the NewEgg reviews (or some other review site) for a switch before buying.

    Hopefully I covered all of your questions, but if not, ask away.

  8. #8
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    Question Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, 'cybertron'.
    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    Okay, as I understand it, you're thinking about directly connecting the two Linux machines with just a cable, right? I wouldn't recommend that. Although you can do it, I'm pretty sure you still need to get a special type of cable or it won't work, and it's much easier if you can connect to the same network as the rest of your computers (it sounds like you do have a home network, you're just not using it as such).

    I guess your only option aside from buying another switch is to disconnect one of the other machines. That wouldn't have to be a permanent move either obviously. You can always do it now temporarily and when your finances improve get another switch. It's a little more hassle, but you can also swap the port between more than one computer too.

    My guess is that you don't need an 8 port switch either, unless you're planning on growing your home network significantly in the next couple of years. Probably one of the cheap 5 port ones on NewEgg (for example) would do just fine in your case. Remember that you can keep using all but one of the ports on your current built-in switch (the one port being the one the new switch would plug into). I can't really make a recommendation on which brands are best because honestly I've talked to people who don't like just about all of them and my own personal experience is nowhere near enough to base an opinion on. Probably the best suggestion I can give is to read the NewEgg reviews (or some other review site) for a switch before buying.

    Hopefully I covered all of your questions, but if not, ask away.
    Thank you very much for your detailed, patient, and very helpful message.

    Despite my incoherent posts in this thread, you have stated exactly what my situation is and what I want to do.

    First of all, you are quite correct in stating that I "do have a home network, but I am just not using it as such." Initially, I wanted to use the switch purely for the purpose of enabling multiple computers to share a single cable modem.

    I got a used 3.0-GHz Dell Dimension 8300 when life was better early this year, and I can transfer Windows XP Professional (with some hassle from Microsoft) to it from my current Linux/Windows dual-boot computer and actually have Linux and Windows each on a dedicated machine. Then I got the free IBM NetVista (on which I want to install SuSE Linux Enterprise 9 Server), and I have decided that I really want to set up an actual home network.

    My Google searches today have been totally fruitless in finding instructions on setting up this network, and using the router/switch/firewall for more than just sharing a cable modem. My brain must be "stuck in neutral," because I always find useful information when I search Google for Linux.

    So, 'cybertron', first of all, I would appreciate any pointers you have, on-line or in book form, on setting up a "real" home network. (I knew that directly connecting the two Linux machines was a very bad idea.)

    Second of all, a five-port switch makes much more sense than an eight-port switch. (I assume that such switches have a port for a twisted-pair cable to connect to a cable modem.)

    I see that most of the switches on the Newegg.com Web page to which you referred me do not support VLAN, but I do not anticipate the need to create a virtual LAN; a single LAN should be quite sufficient.

    I can understand your hesitation to recommend a specific brand, 'cybertron'. Most people talk about their switches frequently only if they are having trouble with them.

    At first blush, given my bad experience with a Linksys switch, but wanting to stay with a brand I recognize, I see that the Netgear FS105 10/100Mbps desktop switch has buffer memory of 64k and ample LEDs. I assume that it can be configured via a Web browser and that it has the standard reset button accessible via an unbent paperclip. (I have had to reset my Macsense router over five times today, so I may need a new switch!)

    I will read the reviews on the Newegg Web page and check the manufacturers' Web sites. One advantage of these smaller switches is that they are extremely inexpensive, and I very much appreciate, again, your practical suggestion.

    While I am reviewing the five-port switches, 'cybertron', I need a crash course on setting up a secure LAN that also allows the sharing of a cable modem. I mainly want the two Linux machines to communicate. (I want to set up MySQL on the NetVista and I am even considering CompTIA training and certification on Oracle 10g, which I'd want to run on the NetVista/Linux, as well.)

    I apologize for taking up so much of your time, 'cybertron', but can you provide me with some guidance on setting up a home network?

    I will give your tired eyes a rest now, but not before I thank you yet again!

    Cordially,

    David
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMD
    My Google searches today have been totally fruitless in finding instructions on setting up this network, and using the router/switch/firewall for more than just sharing a cable modem. My brain must be "stuck in neutral," because I always find useful information when I search Google for Linux.

    So, 'cybertron', first of all, I would appreciate any pointers you have, on-line or in book form, on setting up a "real" home network. (I knew that directly connecting the two Linux machines was a very bad idea.)
    I guess I've never read that much on home networking to be honest. As it turns out it's not as difficult as it may appear when you haven't done it before. For the most part it's just plugging everything in correctly (more on that later) and then connecting to the other computer. You'll use the IP address assigned by your router to do that. For instance, to check whether you can talk to another computer on your network, find its IP and type "ping xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" where the x's are the address (which will be in that form).

    Second of all, a five-port switch makes much more sense than an eight-port switch. (I assume that such switches have a port for a twisted-pair cable to connect to a cable modem.)
    Yep. A switch will have an uplink port that you plug a cable into that goes to a port on your router. Once you do that all you have to do is plug your computers into the switch and they're on your network.

    At first blush, given my bad experience with a Linksys switch, but wanting to stay with a brand I recognize, I see that the Netgear FS105 10/100Mbps desktop switch has buffer memory of 64k and ample LEDs. I assume that it can be configured via a Web browser and that it has the standard reset button accessible via an unbent paperclip. (I have had to reset my Macsense router over five times today, so I may need a new switch!)
    You should never need to reset a switch - they're not as complicated as routers so they don't tend to lock up. If it does you can always pull the plug and it will have to reset.

    Also, consumer switches like these don't generally have any configuration to do. All they're going to do is forward traffic from one address to another and the router does all of the real configuration work. You pretty much just have to plug the switch in and it will do what it's supposed to.

    While I am reviewing the five-port switches, 'cybertron', I need a crash course on setting up a secure LAN that also allows the sharing of a cable modem. I mainly want the two Linux machines to communicate. (I want to set up MySQL on the NetVista and I am even considering CompTIA training and certification on Oracle 10g, which I'd want to run on the NetVista/Linux, as well.)
    As far as setting up a secure LAN, you should be fine as long as you're not allowing connections from the internet to your computers. That's pretty much always the default configuration of routers (and if it's not it should be). Security is a big topic in and of itself, but for now if you just keep everyone on the internet out of your home network completely you should be okay.

    One thing you may want to watch out for is if your router is wireless (I don't remember whether it was or not). If so someone could possibly connect to it and be inside your home network. If it does have wireless and you're not using it, which it sounds like you're not, you should probably turn it off (should be an option in the web interface).

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    Question Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Good morning, 'cybertron'.

    Thank you, yet again, for your detailed, helpful, and patient message. (I actually am not as dense as I appear in this thread.)

    I should clear up two points about my hardware, 'cybertron'.

    First of all, it is indeed a wired network. I initially set it up that way six years ago because of security concerns. (When I had a short-term contract technical-writing job early this year, the IT staff left wireless on by default on the corporate laptops. I kept mine off by default, especially since I took the machine home to use on my wired network, and because it was running Windows XP Pro.)

    I don't have any long stretches of cable and I am perfectly happy with a wired network, although I might feel differently if I had a Linux laptop (which I'd love to have if I could find the ideal used laptop at a great price).

    Second of all, you write that I should never have to reset a switch. You are the expert, 'cybertron', so I accept your statement as an absolute fact. Why then am I having to reset my switch? I need to clarify.

    The Macsense XRouter Pro, 'cybertron', is actually a router/switch/firewall. I assume, therefore, that I am resetting the router component of the unit. Does my assumption make any sense?

    Regarding the configuration of the Macsense XRouter Pro, 'cybertron', via a Web browser, I configure two features. First, I change the default password, if the password reverts back to the default. Second, the router/switch/firewall has a default general setting to respond to random pings from the Internet, but I keep it set to ignore such pings.

    I hope now, 'cybertron', that I have provided a semi-lucid description of this unit, which I guess is technically a router with switch and firewall features. (It also offers Web site filtering and other features that I never use.)

    It has not had a new firmware release since 2002 or 2003, which did nothing detectable except to change the layout of the Web browser configuration interface. Why I am having to reset this router/switch (device) is beyond me. As I stated in a previous message, I must reset it frequently (because it stops working, although the cable modem is fine) -- more frequently than my dynamic IP address for the cable modem would change.

    The units on the Newegg.com Web site to which you referred me, 'cybertron', are, if I recall correctly, switches. I assume their default setting is to prevent outside Internet traffice from entering the network, but I don't know if, say, any given unit offers Web browser configuration or has a setting to block random Internet pings.

    In addition, I assume that you recommend these units because you are using a switch, which is all that is required for computers to share a cable modem and to have a LAN behind the switch's hardware-based firewall. Am I correct, 'cybertron'?

    Based upon your description of home networking, 'cybertron', I simply need to plug each computer into the switch, as I am doing with my XRouter Pro, and test to see that the computers can "see" each other by going from box to box and pinging the other computers' IP addresses. We both know, of course, that the IP addresses are assigned by the DHCP server in the switch (or whatever you want to call the XRouter Pro).

    Perhaps the DHCP server in the XRouter Pro is intermittenly failing, although I've never heard of such a thing in a purely hardware-based DHCP server on such a small scale. (Perhaps the latest firmware update corrupted the unit.)

    Once I determine, 'cybertron', that the computers can all "see" each other, then I can consider, plan, and implement any interaction or sharing that I want on my LAN, correct?

    Regarding the two Windows machines (XP Pro and Home) -- in order to provide an example -- I would like to be able to print to the laser printer connected to the XP Home machine on occasion, from my XP Pro machine, because that printer holds more paper and is ideal for printing larger tomes of on-line documentation. That issue, of course, is a Windows networking issue, and inappropriate for JustLinux.

    What is soon to be my Linux-only computer has a small laser printer. I would like to be able to print on it from the NetVista, if I set it up as a server for MySQL. This goal is, of course, a Linux networking goal. I'd need to set up network printing during installation of SuSE Linux 9 Server on the NetVista, because that printer will have no local printer.

    Once I get the NetVista running as a Linux server with my Linux-only tower on the same LAN, then I can have server-client interaction, because I will know the IP address and machine name of each Linux computer, correct?

    I will not continue to ramble on with examples, 'cybertron', but please let me know if I have "caught on" to what I need to do to have an actual LAN. (I would be most grateful.)

    Finally, given the aberrent behavior of the XRouter Pro and my need for another port (i.e., one of the switches on Newegg.com), I need to do some research and, given the units' low prices, make a decision. (I will avoid brands that I do not recognize.)

    Thank you very much, 'cybertron', for your endless patience and help.

    I will let you know the switch I decide upon -- and I would be grateful if you would let me know if I seem to be "catching on"...finally.

    Thank you!

    Cordially,

    David

    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    I guess I've never read that much on home networking to be honest. As it turns out it's not as difficult as it may appear when you haven't done it before. For the most part it's just plugging everything in correctly (more on that later) and then connecting to the other computer. You'll use the IP address assigned by your router to do that. For instance, to check whether you can talk to another computer on your network, find its IP and type "ping xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" where the x's are the address (which will be in that form).


    Yep. A switch will have an uplink port that you plug a cable into that goes to a port on your router. Once you do that all you have to do is plug your computers into the switch and they're on your network.


    You should never need to reset a switch - they're not as complicated as routers so they don't tend to lock up. If it does you can always pull the plug and it will have to reset.

    Also, consumer switches like these don't generally have any configuration to do. All they're going to do is forward traffic from one address to another and the router does all of the real configuration work. You pretty much just have to plug the switch in and it will do what it's supposed to.


    As far as setting up a secure LAN, you should be fine as long as you're not allowing connections from the internet to your computers. That's pretty much always the default configuration of routers (and if it's not it should be). Security is a big topic in and of itself, but for now if you just keep everyone on the internet out of your home network completely you should be okay.

    One thing you may want to watch out for is if your router is wireless (I don't remember whether it was or not). If so someone could possibly connect to it and be inside your home network. If it does have wireless and you're not using it, which it sounds like you're not, you should probably turn it off (should be an option in the web interface).
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  11. #11
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    Lightbulb Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, 'cybertron'.

    I was looking at the switches to which you referred me on Newegg.

    I realize that none of them has a WAN port, which makes me see the difference between switches and routers.

    Basically, I would be using the switch to expand the port capacity of my router, correct? (I would simply plug one port on the switch into the router using CAT-5 cable.)

    I still have the persistent problem of having to reset the router, but I will contact Macsense about this matter. The XRouter Pro is out of warranty, but perhaps they can offer some suggestions.

    Thanks, 'cybertron'! (I'm learning!)

    Cordially,

    David

    P.S. -- I've read the reviews on Newegg of some of the less expensive routers -- and having to reset routers does not seem to be that uncommon.

    Oddly, with my Macsense XRouter Pro, resetting it does not change the settings back to the factory defaults (most of the time).
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMD
    Second of all, you write that I should never have to reset a switch. You are the expert, 'cybertron', so I accept your statement as an absolute fact. Why then am I having to reset my switch? I need to clarify.

    The Macsense XRouter Pro, 'cybertron', is actually a router/switch/firewall. I assume, therefore, that I am resetting the router component of the unit. Does my assumption make any sense?
    That's correct. You're not resetting because of the switch part (most likely anyway, there's always a very slight possibility that the switch is failing), just the router part.

    Regarding the configuration of the Macsense XRouter Pro, 'cybertron', via a Web browser, I configure two features. First, I change the default password, if the password reverts back to the default. Second, the router/switch/firewall has a default general setting to respond to random pings from the Internet, but I keep it set to ignore such pings.
    Sounds fine.

    I hope now, 'cybertron', that I have provided a semi-lucid description of this unit, which I guess is technically a router with switch and firewall features. (It also offers Web site filtering and other features that I never use.)
    You have.
    It has not had a new firmware release since 2002 or 2003, which did nothing detectable except to change the layout of the Web browser configuration interface. Why I am having to reset this router/switch (device) is beyond me. As I stated in a previous message, I must reset it frequently (because it stops working, although the cable modem is fine) -- more frequently than my dynamic IP address for the cable modem would change.
    If there's no new firmware available from the manufacturer, I'm not sure there's much you can do. Some routers can be reflashed with Linux-based firmware, but that's not a trivial process and there is some fairly significant danger to doing so.
    The units on the Newegg.com Web site to which you referred me, 'cybertron', are, if I recall correctly, switches. I assume their default setting is to prevent outside Internet traffice from entering the network, but I don't know if, say, any given unit offers Web browser configuration or has a setting to block random Internet pings.
    Actually, the switches themselves do no traffic monitoring/blocking/etc. All they do is send traffic on to the right location. For preventing internet traffic from getting into your network you'll still need your router and its firewall.
    In addition, I assume that you recommend these units because you are using a switch, which is all that is required for computers to share a cable modem and to have a LAN behind the switch's hardware-based firewall. Am I correct, 'cybertron'?
    Well, not strictly speaking. I'm using the built-in switch on my wireless router, much as you are right now. A switch as far as I know would not have a firewall built-in. I believe only routers do. Certainly none of the consumer switches that can be bought at a reasonable price would have them.
    Based upon your description of home networking, 'cybertron', I simply need to plug each computer into the switch, as I am doing with my XRouter Pro, and test to see that the computers can "see" each other by going from box to box and pinging the other computers' IP addresses. We both know, of course, that the IP addresses are assigned by the DHCP server in the switch (or whatever you want to call the XRouter Pro).

    Perhaps the DHCP server in the XRouter Pro is intermittenly failing, although I've never heard of such a thing in a purely hardware-based DHCP server on such a small scale. (Perhaps the latest firmware update corrupted the unit.)
    Actually I have. The DHCP server on my wireless router used to drop out intermittently on me until I got an updated firmware version.
    Once I determine, 'cybertron', that the computers can all "see" each other, then I can consider, plan, and implement any interaction or sharing that I want on my LAN, correct?
    Yep.

    Regarding the two Windows machines (XP Pro and Home) -- in order to provide an example -- I would like to be able to print to the laser printer connected to the XP Home machine on occasion, from my XP Pro machine, because that printer holds more paper and is ideal for printing larger tomes of on-line documentation. That issue, of course, is a Windows networking issue, and inappropriate for JustLinux.

    What is soon to be my Linux-only computer has a small laser printer. I would like to be able to print on it from the NetVista, if I set it up as a server for MySQL. This goal is, of course, a Linux networking goal. I'd need to set up network printing during installation of SuSE Linux 9 Server on the NetVista, because that printer will have no local printer.
    You should be able to do this. I'm pretty sure Suse will even help you set it up with Yast.

    Once I get the NetVista running as a Linux server with my Linux-only tower on the same LAN, then I can have server-client interaction, because I will know the IP address and machine name of each Linux computer, correct?
    Correct.

    I will not continue to ramble on with examples, 'cybertron', but please let me know if I have "caught on" to what I need to do to have an actual LAN. (I would be most grateful.)
    You seem to be catching on just fine. It's a little hard to explain this stuff abstractly on a forum. It helps a lot if you have someone physically present who can show you exactly how everything should fit together. One thing you might want to do is look up the difference between a router and a switch. Wikipedia might be helpful here. Then again, maybe not. You never really know with Wikipedia.

    Also, here's a little ascii-art diagram of what your network would look like with another switch:
    Code:
    Internet ------ RouterPort1 -------------SwitchPort1---Computer
                          Port2---Computer         Port2---Computer
                          Port3---Computer         Port3---Empty
                          Port4---Computer         Port4---Empty
                                                   Port5---Empty
    All of the computers should be able to talk to each other in this setup, but because the router is between the internet and all of them nothing from the internet can get in. Hopefully it clears things up a little.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidMD
    Hello, 'cybertron'.

    I was looking at the switches to which you referred me on Newegg.

    I realize that none of them has a WAN port, which makes me see the difference between switches and routers.

    Basically, I would be using the switch to expand the port capacity of my router, correct? (I would simply plug one port on the switch into the router using CAT-5 cable.)
    Okay, then forget what I said in my last post about looking up the difference between switches and routers. It sounds like you've got the idea.

    P.S. -- I've read the reviews on Newegg of some of the less expensive routers -- and having to reset routers does not seem to be that uncommon.

    Oddly, with my Macsense XRouter Pro, resetting it does not change the settings back to the factory defaults (most of the time).
    The behavior of a reset depends largely on the brand. You might try just unplugging the power and plugging it back in. That's generally what I do if I need to reset.

  14. #14
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    Thumbs up Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Greetings, again, 'cybertron'.
    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    I guess I've never read that much on home networking to be honest. As it turns out it's not as difficult as it may appear when you haven't done it before. For the most part it's just plugging everything in correctly (more on that later) and then connecting to the other computer. You'll use the IP address assigned by your router to do that. For instance, to check whether you can talk to another computer on your network, find its IP and type "ping xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" where the x's are the address (which will be in that form)....
    I wanted to let you know that I just ordered a five-port Netgear FS105 switch from Newegg.

    The retail price, before sales tax and shipping, is $22.99, but the switch has a $15.00 mail-in rebate. I chose this Netgear model over a slightly less expensive one because it has a 128k buffer, a metal case, and a wall-mount kit.

    By the way, 'cybertron', do I need an uplink cable to connect the switch to my router/firewall, or can I use a regular CAT-5 (patch) cable? I thank you, in advance, for the information.


    I really do appreciate all of your advice and time, 'cybertron' -- and especially your patience!

    (I'll let you know if I resolve the problem with resetting my router! It is starting to get on my nerves, to say the least.)

    Cordially,

    David

    P.S. -- I will also continue to search (on-line and off-line) for detailed information about Linux home networking, but you certainly have gotten me off to the right start. Thanks, again!
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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

  15. #15
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    Smile Re: Linux and IBM NetVista Computers

    Hello, 'cybertron'.
    Quote Originally Posted by cybertron
    ...The behavior of a reset depends largely on the brand. You might try just unplugging the power and plugging it back in. That's generally what I do if I need to reset....
    Thank you for your prompt message. I apologize for being such a pest and imposing on your valuable time.

    My Macsense XRouter Pro has a small reset button on the back, accessible by a paper clip. This button is the manufacturer's recommend method for resetting the unit, although I have pressed and held down the button for 20-30 seconds and then unplugged the router for a while.

    I may reset both the cable modem (which has a similar reset button) and the router before I go to bed tonight and leave both units off-line all night.

    (When my ISP, Comcast.net, increased downloading bandwidth, they recommended this procedure to ensure that the cable modem took advantage of the increased bandwidth, so I am trying the same method on the cable modem and the router. Perhaps I will flush some corruption out of a ROM chip somewhere.)

    Thank you for everything, 'cybertron'!

    Cordially,

    David
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    Gary Arthur Weaver: 18 July 1942 - 29 December 2006

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