Networking / Beginners

Peer-to-Peer OSs

In a peer-to-peer network, there's no NOS per se. Instead, each user's workstation has desktop OS software that can share resources with other computers as desired. Typically, OSs include the capability to configure a protocol and share resources. Most peer-to-peer OSs provide a relatively limited range of sharable devices, although file sharing (or shared disk space) and networked printing are standard features.

Following is a summary of client OSs that provide peer-to-peer services:

  • Microsoft Windows-Microsoft Windows has provided peer-to-peer networking capabilities since Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Each of the subsequent versions of Windows has provided increasingly more powerful peer-to-peer capabilities. Microsoft Windows (both the Home and Professional versions) even provides a Network Setup Wizard that makes it easy to configure a Windows workgroup (a workgroup being a peer-to-peer network). We'll look more closely at Windows peer-to-peer networking in the next section.
  • Linux-Linux has become a flexible and cost-effective OS for both the home and workplace. Numerous Linux distributions are available that vary in their degree of user friendliness. Linux provides several ways to share files and other resources such as printers. It includes the Network File System (NFS), where a Linux computer can act as both a server and a client.
  • Macintosh OSX-Although our discussion has centered around Intel-based computers, we should mention the peer-to-peer networking capabilities of the Apple Macintosh and its various offspring such as the Mac PowerBook. Peer-topeer networking has been part of the Mac OS since its beginning.

Windows is the most dominant desktop OS in terms of installations. Let's take a closer look at peer-to-peer networking with the most widely used version of Windows, Microsoft Windows XP. This discussion includes configuration examples, which should help you in making selection decisions about using them.

Peer-to-Peer Networking OSs

If you review the list of OSs presented there, you'll find many of them are capable of working in a peer-to-peer environment. Since the early 1990s, almost every client/single-user OS has been shipped with at least a limited collection of network protocols and tools. This means that you can use almost every client OS to build a peer-to-peer network.

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]