very small "workgroup" network

Chad Perrin perrin at
Fri Dec 30 00:36:17 UTC 2011

On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 03:06:17PM -0600, Jeffrey McFadden wrote:
> I feel really inferior to the community here, but I have to ask because I
> simply don't know:
> What do I need to do to create a small (3 PC-BSD) home network?  I could do
> this in no time in Windows, but I don't know how to find, configure, and
> enable the files necessary  to make these machines talk to each other and
> allow browsing to shared resources.  h The connectivity is in place (each
> can access the internet.)
> I've Googled considerably and not found instructions.  Just a pointer to
> instructions on the web somewhere would be fine.

It is a little difficult to figure out exactly where to start with some
guidance for how to proceed, because I do not know your circumstances.

What kind of network hardware do you have, and how much network do you
currently have set up?  Do you have only a cable or DSL "modem"?  Do you
have a combination router/"modem"?  Do you have a router separately from
whatever connection you are using to get to the Internet (or do you even
care about Internet connectivity for this network)?

Even without a router, you can use a switch and some configuration in the
/etc/hosts files of each system you want on the network, if you do not
need a connection to an external WAN (e.g. the Internet).  If you do need
that external connection to the Internet, you'll probably want something
(like a router) that can provide NAT (network address translation),
though there are other ways to achieve such connectivity as well (i.e.
IPv6 configuration), depending on your ISP.

For network resource browsing, I think sshfs (as mentioned by someone
else already) is probably one of the better options available to you, as
long as you do not need to account for any MS Windows machines being
included in the network browsing capabilities.  If you do need to account
for MS Windows, you'll probably want to look into using Samba for NetBIOS
and CIFS -- the protocol basis for MS Windows "workgroup" networking.

If I had to guess what you have going on, based on what you have said so
far, I would guess you probably have some kind of DSL or cable
router/"modem" device or a DSL or cable "modem" with a separate router
plugged into it, and only PC-BSD machines on the network.  In that
situation, I would suggest searching for sshfs resources to set up
network browsing, and using explicit hostname resolution configurations
in the /etc/hosts files of your PC-BSD systems.  This should add up to a
reasonably robust, secure, and simple setup once you read up a little bit
on the tools you will use.

I hope that helps.


I wrote this article a long time ago:

    Use The SSH Filesystem For Secure Network Filesystem Access

It might be useful if you decide to go the sshfs route.  You should be
forewarned, however, that . . .

1. I have not looked at that article in a couple years, and can only
guess I was not a complete idiot back when I wrote it.

2. TechRepublic has screwed around with its CSS so badly in the
intervening years that some of the formatting is quite badly hosed up in
that article.  For instance, the code tags used for formatting code
samples used to do code formatting *only*, allowing them to be used
effectively for both separate code blocks and inline code samples; since
then, in their infinite wisdom, the (relatively new) corporate masters at
CBSi have decreed that code tags will also (via CSS) insert newlines
before and after code samples within code tags.  Please remember to take
this into account when reading the article, so that it will make more
sense as presented on that page.  For all I know, the way TR's
stylesheets handle code formatting might all change again tomorrow, and
make things even worse.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]

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