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HOW TO BUILD A LAN

Overview Building your own Ethernet LAN (local area network) is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. Using features from your OS and some special hardware (including cables, NICs, a hub/router, and an Internet connection), you can easily, and quickly, build a nifty home network complete with Internet access and file-sharing capabilities. The necessary hardware is easily obtained, and reasonably priced, making an Ethernet LAN possible for anyone with multiple computers, and the need to network them.

General Information A clear understanding of a LAN, as well as its limitations, is very helpful when considering the structure of your Ethernet LAN. You’ll need to decide on the physical structure that is best-suited for your networking needs. Visit SearchNetworking.com to read their definition of a LAN and information about LAN network technologies, hardware, and implementation strategies. General LAN information described in non-technical terms is available at the Web site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAN . A brief essay about building a LAN can be found on the Web page www.johnscloset.net/lan/. This essay describes the hardware and configuration of an Ethernet LAN that allows the computers on the network to share an Internet connection. This essay is just one part of a networking primer that contains discussions about LANs, WANs, and hardware.

LAN Resources Possibly the best sources for information about networking, Ethernet, and LANs is one of the many LAN tutorials found on the Web. LAN tutorial sites are listed below.

* http://www.lantronix.com/learning/
* developer.intel.com/design/network/
* www.howstuffworks.com/home-network.htm
* http://compnetworking.about.com/

LAN Hardware and Software The number of households with more than one PC is growing each year. The need for communication between these PCs and shared devices, such as printers and hard drives, has spawned a large market for network hardware. Consumers are faced with a variety of choices, from running Cat-5 cables between PCs, to wireless access.

The basic building blocks of simple and inexpensive LAN are a hub/router, Cat-5 cabling, and NIC for each computer on the network. You can check the price and availability of these items at Web sites such as www.pricewatch.com/ and outpost.com/. Both of these sites allow you to compare different products and purchase the products that you choose. The Web site www.starmicrotech.com/ specializes in selling network products. It’s a great source for LAN hardware.

Additional Links For an interesting perspective on LAN gaming, visit www.gideontech.com/. This site provides information about LAN parties--communities of gamers within a LAN who play interactive games, complete with instant messaging. Are you looking for a good book about building a high-speed LAN? Visit the page http://compnetworking.about.com/ for several recommended books about building LANs.

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