Local area network setup for Visual simulator

  • Hardware needed
  • Local area network
  • IP addresses set automatically
  • Firewalls and antiviruses
  • Built-in network tests inside simulator
  • Setting network on computers with Vista and Windows 7
  • Additional measures which may help if tests do not pass

  • Hardware needed

    No special hardware is required, only standard computer components. The list is as follows :

  • network switch
  • network adapters on each computer
  • network cables
  • ...or just a router for wireless networks
  • Local area network

    Computers are connected to each other via a switch



    by network cables RJ45



    Each computer in the network is identified by its network name and/or its IP address which can be specified.

    Go to "Start"->"Settings"->"Control panel"->"System and Security"->"System"



    to set computer name (remember computer names of each computer) and
    workgroup name (which must be identical for all computers in your network)

    Go to "Start"->"Settings"->"Control panel"->"Network Connections"-> "Network and Sharing Center"->"Local Area Connection"-> "Internet Protocol version4 (TCP/IPv4)"->"Properties"



    to specify each computer IP address. For local area network it is usually set like
    192.168.1.XXX, where XXX is computer number unique for your LAN. Click on Subnet mask, it will be set to proper values. Set Default gateway to 192.168.1.1 on all computers.

    IP address information can be obtained at any time by going to Start->Run->cmd and then

    >ipconfig

    from command line.

    Test that network exchange is OK. It can be tested with (run from command line - use "Start"->"Run"->cmd.exe)

    >ping IP_or_network_name_of_other_computer

    If replies are present, network is OK, but firewalls may silently block creation of network sockets.

    IP addresses set automatically

    Nowadays computer IP addresses most often are set automatically by the router (note "Obtain an IP address automatically" on the above picture). This is also OK : during the simulator installation it takes this IP or asks the user to select one if there are more then one IP address for this computer.

    Firewalls and antiviruses

    Firewalls may block creation of Windows sockets when the simulator server starts. Usually the only thing you should do is to add MIServer.exe to firewall exception list and this is all.
    Exactly the same relates to antiviruses. However some may block creation of network sockets not saying a word. Then, if the network is not working, it may be necessary to turn such firewall (anivirus) off.
    If it is not standard Windows firewall, look for them in "Start"->"Settings"->"Control panel"->"Administrative tools"-> "Services". Click the right mouse button to set its properties ("Stop" or "Start manually").

    Built-in network tests inside simulator

    The server has a set of network tests modelling typical network operations used by the simulator. Show server window by clicking its icon on the taskbar:



    The server window appears:



    To make a test, select a computer from the above list - and the [Test] button becomes enabled. Click this button. The server connects to the selected computer ("pings") - sends some random data and awaits for a reply. The three checks are the following.
    UDP exchange is the basic mechanism to broadcast commands and maintain a distributed database of attributes over network. If it fails, nothing will work. This is a very strong failure. It may happen if there is no cable connection or server is not running on target computer (see the above pictures - it should display the server icon on the taskbar). Or a firewall blocks everything.
    The second test is TCP/IP test. This type of network exchange is used to transfer large amounts of data between computers, like digitized voice between radio stations. The possible reasons for it not working are the same as for the UDP failure - most likely a firewall.
    A failure of the third test means that the program is unable to write (or rewrite) a file onto the hard disk. The reason may be insufficient logon rights (try to logon as administrator) or file sharing or access to a folder.

    Setting network on computers with Vista and Windows 7

    An additional measure to provide working network for Vista and Windows 7 is setting UAC (user account control) to its lowest level. This is implemented in control panel. Find the UAC section by searching "UAC" in control panel.

    Additional measures which may help if tests do not pass

  • use >ping computer_name to get an idea about network exchange
  • explicitly specify computer IPs in file c:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts, like
    192.168.1.10 SECRET
    192.168.1.20 IRONHAND
    etc.
  • set "simple file sharing" in XP
  • make sure there is no firewalls or antiviruses (in control panel Services) which might block creation of network sockets
  • try to test network by creating shared directories on other computers and copying files to them