Easy install guide for NetBEUI and IPX in Windows XP Pro

Many networks still depend on the IPX and NetBEUI protocols for specialized networking applications. While Windows XP Pro didn't forget these protocols, you'll need to know how to install them before you can use them.

The TCP/IP communications protocol is the standard for the computer industry, but in some instances, you may need to use legacy protocols such as IPX or NetBEUI. Installing these protocols was pretty easy in other versions of Windows, but Windows XP Pro presents a little more of a challenge. I’ll show you how to make short work of this task, illustrating the steps you should follow to install these legacy protocols.

Installing Novell's legacy IPX protocol
If your network is running IPX and you want to install a Windows XP workstation, relax. Installing IPX in Windows XP is a relatively straightforward process that is similar to installing additional protocols in other versions of Windows. First, select the appropriate LAN Connection from the Network Connections menu option in Control Panel. This will display the Local Area Connection Status screen, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Click on the Properties button to display the Local Area Connection Properties screen, illustrated in Figure B.

Figure B

To install IPX, click on the Install button. Doing so will display the Select Network Component Type dialog box, shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Highlight Protocol and click Add, which will display the Select Network Protocol dialog box, shown in Figure D. This dialog box contains the additional protocols that can be installed in Windows XP. To install the IPX protocol, highlight NWLink IPX/SPX/NetBIOS Compatible Transport Protocol.

Figure D

After selecting the protocol and clicking OK to install it, you’ll be asked to restart the computer. After the PC reboots, the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box will show the newly installed protocol, as shown in Figure E, and you’ll be able to use and configure the IPX protocol.

Figure E

If the client workstations are using Windows XP Home Edition, you should avoid installing IPX. The Novell client software is not designed to work with Windows XP Home Edition because it is not considered a business-class operating system. The client software should work normally in a Windows XP Professional environment.

Installing NetBEUI in Windows XP
In the early days of Windows, Microsoft created an easy-to-use proprietary communications protocol called NetBIOS Extended User Interface (NetBEUI). It was designed for small networks as an easy way to share files and printers and was the default protocol for Windows 95. NetBEUI is not routable and cannot be used to communicate on larger networks or the Internet. If your network has already been configured to use NetBEUI, Windows XP allows you to install this legacy protocol so that you can continue to use the applications that require it.

Installing NetBEUI is a little different from installing IPX because it is not normally listed in the Select Network Protocol list, shown in Figure D. To have NetBEUI shown in this list, you must move two files from the Windows XP installation CD to certain directories on the workstation. The two files, Nbf.sys and Netnbf.inf, are located in the \Valueadd\MSFT\Net\NetBEUI folder, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Copy the Nbf.sys file to the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder and copy the Netnbf.inf file to the C:\Windows\Inf folder. Note that the C:\Windows\Inf folder is hidden; you must allow this folder to be viewed by opening Windows Explorer and selecting Tools | Folder Options. Then click on the View tab and select the Show Hidden Files And Folders option, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Once the files have been copied, you’ll be able to install the NetBEUI protocol in the same manner as IPX. As you can see in Figure H, the NetBEUI protocol is now listed in the Select Network Protocol dialog box. To install the protocol, highlight the NetBEUI Protocol and click OK. The protocol will be installed; after rebooting the computer, you’ll be able to configure and use it.

Figure H

Final thoughts
It’s a little surprising that Microsoft decided not to support the AppleTalk or DLC protocols in Windows XP, but with most of the world already using TCP/IP, the decision doesn’t affect too many people. Since IPX and NetBEUI are more in demand than the AppleTalk and DLC protocols, support for them has been included in Windows XP Professional.

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