If you follow the default settings when installing Windows XP, the most popular networking protocol, TCP/IP, is automatically installed for you. Although that’s convenient, you still need to know how to install network protocols manually. For one thing, you may need to install additional protocols. And if you want to pass Microsoft’s Windows XP exams, you will need to know TCP/IP inside and out.

In a previous article, I examined the installation and configuration of a network client and network services. Now let’s look at the installation and basic configuration of network protocols.

Installing network protocols
When you need to install or reinstall TCP/IP or install another protocol, begin by following these steps:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel.
  2. Click Network And Internet Connections.
  3. Click Network Connections.
  4. Right-click on the Local Area Connection corresponding to the NIC for which you want to configure the network protocols and select Properties (Figure A).

Figure A

If the protocol you want to install isn’t listed, you’ll need to add it. First, make sure that the network client and service are installed (as covered in my previous article). If these components are already available, click the Install button.

Next, from the pop-up menu, double-click Protocol (alternatively, you can click Protocol and click the Add button). Since most enterprises rely upon TCP/IP, that’s the protocol I’ll install in this example. From the Select Network Protocol list box, select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click OK. (If you already have TCP/IP installed, this selection will not be available.)

Other protocol options are provided by default. They are:

  • Network Monitor Driver
  • NWLink IPX/SPX/NetBIOS Compatible Transport Protocol

Protocols available in Windows 2000

Three legacy protocols that were available in Windows 2000—AppleTalk, DLC, and NetBEUI—are no longer available by default in Windows XP.

If you want to use a protocol that’s not listed, click the Have Disk button. You’ll be prompted to point to the location of the protocol, whether it’s on a hard disk, a network share, a floppy or removable drive, a CD-ROM, or DVD.

After installing the protocol, make sure that the check boxes are selected for the network client, service, and the protocol, TCP/IP, in this case. The next step is to configure basic TCP/IP protocol settings.

If the system is to receive an IP address automatically from a DHCP server, you can simply close the Local Area Connection Properties box and reboot your system. When rebooting, the system will send out a DHCP discover message. The DHCP server will snag that message off the network and fire back an IP address and subnet mask, as well as other network settings, such as IP addresses for DNS services, a default gateway, and myriad other options.

Specifying static IP addresses
If you want to specify a static IP address, click on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)—or the protocol you want to configure—and select Properties. In the General tab, select the Use The Following IP Address option, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
To specify an IP address, you’ll have to provide the associated subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server addresses.

Once you’ve entered the IP address and its associated subnet mask, along with the addresses for the default gateway and DNS servers, click OK. When entering IP addresses, type periods to separate your dotted-decimal entries. Use the [Tab] key to move from box to box.

After you’ve provided the necessary addresses, you can click the Advanced button and specify any WINS servers you want to use. Click on the WINS tab, enter the WINS server address, and then click OK.

In the WINS tab, you can specify whether to enable LMHOSTS lookup and NetBIOS over TCP/IP. You can also specify that the NetBIOS configuration be set based on a DHCP server setting (if you’re using DHCP). Click OK once you’ve set these values.

Click OK, click OK again, and click Close. Finally, close the Network And Dial-Up Connections box, and you should find your network connection working properly.

Final word
You can learn more about your network settings by running the IPCONFIG command. Just click Start | Run, type cmd, and click OK. Then, type IPCONFIG /ALL to see the details of your network adapters. You can use this information to further troubleshoot errors on your network. It can give you a quick look at network protocol settings and provide confidence that all network adapters are configured properly.