(These chapters were written way out of order)
I'm not going to get into the hardware considerations any too deeply.
Beyond here dragons dwell.
You have to have it together enough to install Network Interface Cards (NICs) in all the computers you want to use. In the case of the desktops, you usually have to pull the cover off the cabinet and physically push a NIC into an empty slot. In the case of laptops, it's usually a PC Card shoved into the side of the cabinet. The make, model, and year of the hardware is entirely up to you. Follow instructions to load any software necessary. Usually, the Plug and Play service will help you.
All your networking hardware should support CAT-5 cables, the ones that look like fat telephone cables. You can make these yourself with parts at Radio Shack or buy them pre-made at CompUSA or other supplier. There are some tricks to making this cable, so premade works just fine.
In all cases, I'm assuming either Windows 95 or 98. Anything before that is workable, but very very messy. Waaay beyond the scope of this paper. WinNT is certainly usable, but messy because it's too good. You have to learn a whole different skill set to get NT to work. The NTs are *not* fuzzy-warm operating systems. Certainly Linux and other systems can be used, too, but they use a completely different networking philosophy and most of the information in this paper is unusable.
Anything after Win98-SE is unknown.
An important part of the hardware world is the existence of a LinkSys BEFSR-41 Firewall and Hub. In the process of establishing a small local network, I intentionally disable what little security Win98 has. Without the firewall, you are completely and totally subject to damage from evil surfers on the internet. Even *with* the firewall, it's not perfect, but you are enormously better off than before.
I am going to completely set up a Local Area Network with file sharing and remote printing using the hub part of the firewall and not even bother to involve the internet connections until practically the last chapter. That's the beauty of the firewall, the two sides are separate and can be installed as such.
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