One of the ironies of my LAN is, I am hosting a Web-site from it, but I do not even own my present router. Mine is a router owned by my ISP, and which provides me with proprietary TV as well.
This means that my ISP has the right to perform a firmware update on the router, which can also be called ‘flashing the router’.
I suspect that this may have happened, around Wednesday Morning, November 9.
My main reason for suspecting this, was a subtle change in the way my router manages my LAN.
According to This Earlier Posting, I previously needed to set my router as the WINS server as well.
To explain in lay-terms what this means, I need to mention that the local IP addresses which computers have on a LAN do exist, in addition to which Windows has introduced its own way of giving the local computers names. Linux can mimic how this works, using its ‘Samba’ software suite, but also tries to avoid ‘NetBIOS’ (naming) as much as possible, outside of Samba network browsing, or ‘copying-and-pasting of files, between computers on a LAN’.
Just like domain-names need to be resolved into IP addresses on the Internet, which is the WAN to this LAN – the Wide-Area Network – on the Local Area Network, computer-names also need to be resolved into IP addresses, before the computers can actually ‘talk to each other graphically’. Traditionally, Windows offered its whimsical mechanism for doing so, which was named NetBIOS, by which any and every computer could act as the WINS server – thus offering its repository of LAN locations to the WINS clients, but alternatively, there could also exist one dedicated WINS server.
What I had grown used to, was that on my LAN, the router would insist that it be my WINS server, thus ‘not trusting’ any of my Linux boxes to do so in some way. I therefore had to defer to this service, as provided by the router.
I had previously set my ‘
wins support = no
dns proxy = yes
Well as of Wednesday, the LAN had suddenly ‘looked different’ according to client-browsers. Each computer had suddenly remained aware only of its own identity, with no Workgroup of other computers to network with.
This was all happening, while my connection to the WAN still seemed secure and operative.
Long story short, I think that my ISP may have performed the Firmware Update, and that according to the new firmware version, the router was suddenly not willing to provide this service anymore. And so what I felt I had to do next, was change these settings back to
wins support = no
dns proxy = no
Now that I have done so, each computer can ‘see’ my whole Workgroup again – which was apparently not feasible according to earlier experiences.
Further, for laypeople I might want to emphasize, that it is not just a frivolous exercise of mine, to give each computer a name. If they did not have names, then according to the screen-shot below, I would also not be able to tell them apart, since they all have the same icon anyway:
Now I suppose that an inquiring mind might ask, “Since Linux can imitate Windows, why does Dirk not just set ‘
wins support = yes‘ as well?” My answer to this hypothetical question would be, that
- According to common sense, this option will just make the current machine available, as a potential WINS Server, but
- In my practical experience, the LAN will interpret this as more of an imperative gesture, of a kind that will actually cause a feud to break out between the machines.
In my experience, if I even set one of my Linux machines to do this, all the other Linux machines will refer to its repository of (4) LAN names, the others becoming clients, but the Windows 7 machine named ‘Mithral’ will refuse to have it. In this case, Mithral will insist that it must be the WINS Server, and not some Linux box. And then, further logic-testing of which machines can see which, will reveal that in practice, I must leave this option switched off, if there is also to be any Windows machine to share the LAN with.