Getting a Linux-based computer up and running on a local area network (LAN) and connecting to an Internet connection-sharing (ICS) computer on a LAN can be tricky -- even for experienced computer users. It can be a hair-pulling aggravation for computer novices, desktop Linux users, and for Microsoft (MS) Windows users migrating to Linux -- or for Windows users just giving Linux a try. But not any more, thanks to LinNeighborhood and Mandrake Linux 9.1!
Mandrake Linux 9.1 is an easy-to-install and easy-to-use GNU/Linux operating system distribution. We have not completed our Mandrake Linux 9.1 testing yet. However so far, it seems to be even better than Mandrake Linux 9.0, which we gave very high marks.
LinNeighborhood by Hans Schmid and Richard Stemmer is a very handy, third-party, Open-Source, network utility. It lets you easily see and access Windows shares on your LAN from your Linux computer. You also can use LinNeighborhood to see and access shares from other Linux-based computers on your LAN. Simply put, LinNeighborhood is an easy-to-install and easy-to-use graphical front end for Samba.
A special Linux program such as Samba must be used so that a Linux-based computer can access shared resources on remote, networked, Windows-based computers. Configuring Samba can be difficult for Linux beginners, computer newbies, and people migrating from MS Windows to Linux. However . . .
We showed readers an easy way to get a Linux box running as an integral part of a LAN in our 25 October 2002 article, Using LinNeighborhood to Create a Network Neighborhood for Linux. The key to doing that is using LinNeighborhood to create a Windows-like Network Neighborhood on Linux-based computers.
Today, we will tweak a newly installed Mandrake 9.1 installation to add a Windows-like, Network-Neighborhood area to a Linux-based computer -- in a peer-to-peer network environment. That will give us full access to all the shared resources on all the computers connected to our LAN. And it will allow other computers on the LAN to see shared resources on the Mandrake 9.1 computer, too.
Mandrake 9.1 Configures a LAN Connection for You
LinNeighborhood was not included with the Mandrake 9.0 Linux distribution. Nor did the Mandrake Linux 9.0 distribution automatically configure itself to be up and running on a LAN as part of the installation.
Mandrake Linux 9.1 was installed on a 2.4-GHz, Pentium 4, multi-boot, test box. After installation, the box was rebooted.
A big improvement in Mandrake Linux 9.1 over 9.0 is that LinNeighborhood is included as part of the Mandrake Linux 9.1 distribution. Moreover, LinNeighborhood was installed and configured transparently during the Mandrake 9.1 installation process.
Even better, LinNeighborhood was up and running when the newly installed Mandrake 9.1 operating system was booted for the first time. And better yet, Mandrake 9.1 on its own had found all the other Linux boxes and the MS Windows boxes on the LAN. It also found the Internet gateway from our LAN to the Internet. Very impressive, indeed.
If you do not wish to provide file and device access to people using other (remote) computers on your LAN, you can use Mandrake 9.1 right out of the box as to networking. Nevertheless, there still is some tweaking to do if you would like to provide file and device sharing access to your Mandrake 9.1 computer -- or if you would like to create a Microsoft Windows-like Network Neighborhood for your Mandrake 9.1 machine.
Tweaking Your LAN Connection and Network Neighborhood
Network Neighborhood or /mnt
Mandrake Linux 9.1 configures the shares from other computers on the LAN to be mounted in the /home/user/mnt folder. If you are comfortable with your LAN shares mounted in a directory named /mnt instead of a folder named Network Neighborhood, no need for tweaking that. The mnt in /mnt is short for mount.
Please do not let the term mount used throughout this article baffle you if you are a Microsoft Windows user. It's not really that big a thing. In fact, mounting a share is somewhat similar to mapping a drive in MS Windows. So, if you are familiar with mapping a drive in MS Windows, it might help you to think of mounting a share as mapping a share. (Please see the Mount and Mount Point entries in the Terms and Definitions sidebar.)
However, if you would prefer to have your LAN shares in a directory named Network Neighborhood, please see the Creating Your Linux Network Neighborhood and Adding Your Windows-Box Shares to Your Linux Network Neighborhood sections of Using LinNeighborhood to Create a Network Neighborhood for Linux.
Figure 1 is a Windows-like Network Neighborhood directory (folder) added to Linux user drake's home directory. Figure 2 shows a Network Neighborhood directory in the Microsoft Windows Explorer file manager.
From a technical point of view, it makes little difference if you mount remote shares in a directory or folder called /mnt or one called /Network Neighborhood. However, psychologically it might be easier for a MS Windows user migrating to Linux to have the remote shares mounted/mapped in a /Network Neighborhood directory/folder rather than in a /mnt directory/folder.