TCP/IP Setup

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TCP/IP Setup

Although many PS1 addons including the Broker can be run on one machine, sharing all resources together, in many cases it is much better to have two or even more PCs linked up. This page tells you how to do so. It assumes that you are running all things on Windows95 or later. Exact click sequences are not given, but these tend to be quite alike on various flavours of Windows.

The basic principle is always that you run the Broker on the same machine as where you run PS1. Running the Broker "opens a port" on that machine, where other programs such as VisualPS1 or FlightCrew can connect to. In order to find the right machine to connect to, these programs need to know the IP address of the Broker machine. This usually is a four-number sequence, such as 11.22.33.44. The next sections tell you how to determine this number. Most add-ons ask for this number in the Setup menu.

Setting up TCP/IP on one machine

This is rather straightforward. Windows usually comes with TCP/IP already installed, and it definitely is installed if you use Internet in some way.

With only one machine, you can use the so-called local loop address for all connections. This address is 127.0.0.1 and has the unique feature that it always points to your current (local) machine. Instead of the address, you may also use localhost or, in many cases, leave the address field blank.

So, in short, fill in 127.0.0.1 in the field where an addon asks "Broker hosts" and you're set. It will now look for machine "127.0.0.1", which is its own machine, and find the Broker right away (if it is running, obviously).

Setting up TCP/IP on more machines

There is only one good way to connect multiple machines in a local network and that is by Ethernet. Buy a network card for each machine (about US$10 a piece) and wire them up. You might need a link box called a hub (US$30) or switch (US$80, faster under high load) if you use UTP wires; with coax/BNC, you don't need a hub. The wiring is not difficult but you might want to have your dealer show you how to do it, especially in case of coax.

For UTP, between two and not more than two computers, you can use a so-called crossover cable and save the cost of a hub or switch. Be sure you buy this cable in a very special colour, so that you will instantly recognise it. Why? Because this cable will never ever work as part of a bigger network -- it will shut it down! You can really save yourself a lot of tangled debugging by never taking it out of the house to a club meeting.

If you already have an Ethernet card in one machine and use it already for Internet, see below under "Integrating Internet".

After installing the network card and the associated drivers, you need to bind the TCP/IP protocol to the card. Usually you can do this via the Network Neighborhood/Properties box, by adding a protocol. You will find TCP/IP in the "Microsoft" collection. In the end the box should read "TCP/IP --> Somebrand Ethernet Adapter".

Address Hassles

With more than one machine, they need to get individual addresses in order to find each other. You cannot just use some four-number sequence and hope that it will work. There is a range of addresses that is set apart for local network use. This is the following:
192.168.0.1
192.168.0.2
192.168.0.3
192.168.0.4
etc.
Instead of the "0" you may use another number, in between 0 and 254. Do not use either 192.168.0.0 or 192.168.255.255 as these have special technical meaning. All others are fine.

Simply assign a different number to each machine on your network, usually in the Network Neighborhood/Properties/TCP-IP/Properties box. Give each address the same subnet mask: 255.255.0.0. All the rest of the TCP/IP box is not really interesting.

You can (should) test the connections by opening a DOS box and typing the following on the command prompt:

C:\>ping 192.168.0.2
(if you want to "ping" this particular machine). You should see something like:
C:\>ping 192.168.50.2

Pinging 192.168.50.2 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 192.168.50.2: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=128
Reply from 192.168.50.2: bytes=32 time<10ms TTL=128
Reply from 192.168.50.2: bytes=32 time<10ms TTL=128
Reply from 192.168.50.2: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=128

Ping statistics for 192.168.50.2:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 0ms, Maximum =  1ms, Average =  0ms

C:\>
Note that my private network lives in the 192.168.50.xx area. I just do this to avoid trouble when I ever hook up my machines to another local area network that happens to use the more straightforward 192.168.0.xx range.

If this works, both ways, congratulations! The rest is downhill.

Start the Broker and PS1 on one machine. Then start the other addons (SB747, FlightCrew, etc.) on the other machine(s) and point them all to the IP address of the Broker's machine (usually in File/Setup, Broker Host). They should find the Broker right away and establish a connection. Both the addon and the Broker should reflect this in the log window.

Integrating Internet

There's quite a chance that at least one of your machines also has a (temporary) connection to the Internet. This is no problem, as its real Internet IP address (which might change) by definition will never come from the 192.168.xx.yy range. So your Internet machine will have two addresses, one for the Internet connection and one for your internal network.

Even if one machine has Internet connectivity, the other(s) won't be able to share this right away! Only the programs running on the machine with two connections will be able to go out. Typically, you want to run SB747 and RogerWilco on this Internet machine and PS1 plus the Broker on the non-Internet one. Usually this is convenient, as the PS1 machine tends to be the oldest and smallest of the two. Your fancy Internet stuff stays on the new, huge one.

(A)DSL and Cable

If you have a modem, there is no further trouble. However, if you use cable Internet, (A)DSL, or another technology that provides you with an Ethernet connection, you need two Ethernet cards in this machine, each one with its own IP address. Take care not to mix up the addresses and settings for each card. And please do not even try to make the external Ethernet an extension of your local Ethernet by plugging both into the same hub. All kinds of icky things will happen (nothing will physically break, but logically you can do a lot of damage).

In theory, your 192.168.xx.yy network packets won't make it out onto the Internet, but this is not totally guaranteed. I personally experience lots of packets coming in from my @home connection in the 192.168.0.xx range, reasons enough to not use the "0" but another random number between 1 and 254. The solution is, of course, to install a good firewall to block any unwanted incoming or outgoing traffic. In case you have permanent Internet, this is always a good idea, anyway.

Nowadays many shops sell cable routers. They look like hubs or switches for four to eight machines, but contain a complete router that can nicely connect your internal network (192.168.x.x) to the outside Internet world. Such a router is usually the least headache-giving solution for Internet connectivity, and you pay from around US$70 for it, so it is a good alternative for a standard switch. Depending on price, the router might also have a firewall built in. Some of them do not support the internal network, they only connect all individual computers to the Internet, so watch out.

If you want, your OS may be able to do "Internet sharing" and forward packets from the internal network to the outside world via the dual-card PC. Now all your machines have direct access to the Internet. This might seem attractive, but take care that it also works the other way: all machines now get vulnerable to attacks.

The ultimate solution is to dedicate one (old) computer as your Internet gateway, which does both firewalling and IP forwarding/masquerading so that all your machines suddenly can access the Internet. However, this goes beyond the aim of this page. You will need significant knowledge of (Inter)networking and possibly Linux if you want to pull this off. Any 486-class machine will work perfectly, though (more needed for Windows, naturally).

That's it! Success!


© 2019 Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers For more information, mail to hoppie@hoppie.nl