If you have a LAN (two computers or more connected in a network), of which one is connected to the Internet (via a DSL modem, cable, etc.), it may be worthwhile to make the Internet accessible to the other computers on the LAN by installing software that will act as a proxy server, i.e., giving access to LAN computers "by proxy", by redirecting information.
However, the larger the number of users, the weaker the bandwidth for each one will be, because the users share the bandwidth of the proxy... Thus, if 8 users are connected on a 56000 baud modem, there will only be 7000 baud per person, which is... not a lot: useless for 8 people surfing the web
with a modem...
There are various programs that allow for this function. The best known among them is Wingate, which acts as a server (on the computer connected to the Internet) and a client (on all LAN computers that one wants to connect to the Internet).
Wingate is shareware, i.e., paid software; its unregistered version allows for connection sharing with one other LAN computer at a time. The unregistered version will therefore suffice for a LAN consisting of only two computers; however, to connect more computers to the Internet, you will have to pay for the license.
The server will be the LAN computer connected to the Internet. In order to be able to use the Wingate as a server, make sure that the TCP/IP protocol is correctly installed on the computer that will act as the server.
If it is connected to the Internet via a modem, you should see the two following protocols in the control panel/network window:
Then, install Wingate as a server on this machine (the recent versions, i.e., 3.0 and above, will ask you to choose between client and server, while the prior versions just had to be installed on the server).
Once Wingate is installed, it acts as a service, i.e., it does not act as a normal application that can be seen as a task while clicking on CTRL-ALT-DEL. Thus, in order to configure it, you will have to use the "GateKeeper" tool supplied with Wingate.
This tool allows you to configure access for the users who will use the proxy. In this way, you will be able to define the permissions for each user (i.e., the services the user can access) and see the users connected in real time. In the GateKeeper interface, there are three tabs that allow you to configure:
Wingate allows you to add the users who can "pass through" the proxy (avoid allowing LAN access to external users...). You can also add the services you want (ICQ, FTP, WWW, etc.) by specifying the ports
associated with each service.
Wingate can create an event log file that allows you to see the actions of each user connected via the proxy. Finally, Wingate has a cache system that allows you to save frequently visited pages so that LAN users connected to the Wb do not have to reload the same information several times.
The clients are the computers that will be connected to the server. To allow Internet access, it is necessary, with the Wingate versions below version 3.0, to configure each application to specify that the connection will be made via the proxy. For versions 3.0 and higher, it is possible to install Wingate as a client on all of the computers to avoid having to configure all applications; however, it is also possible to do that. Thus, all recent applications related to the Internet (browsers, FTP clients, ICQ, etc.) have a "proxy server" option, sometimes called firewall, an abuse of the term; this option may be like this:
To configure your web browser, just go to preferences (options, configuration, etc.) and find the option "connect via proxy server".
Then, enter the proxy address into the first field (192.168.0.1) and the port into the second (80). Certain browsers will ask you for the proxy addresses for each of the sevices, the two essential services being http and ftp, for which you will fill in the field as follows.
Programs such as CuteFTP, WS_FTP, etc., generally have an option under preferences that allows you to specify the address of a proxy server; enter the address of the computer running Wingate (192.168.0.1), then enter port 21.
Optionally, a password may be entered if you restricted access on Wingate by assigning passwords to the LAN users.
By means of this process, the LAN computers will have access to FTP sites on port 21. In order to be able to access FTP sites on other ports, you will have to use FTP clients that accept the SOCKS service. SOCKS is a service that allows you to dynamically open ports on the proxy, the only way to use applications having variable ports (FTP on ports other than 21, IRC, etc.).
Messaging or e-mail is the most commonly used service on the Internet; thus, it is essential to be able to use it when sharing a connection on a LAN. E-mail service includes two principal functions:
For incoming mail, Wingate must know the location of the mail of each network computer. Thus, in the options, in the field where you normally enter your user name, you will have to enter your user name followed by a hash sign, then your messaging server, e.g., your_name#pop.server.com, then your normal password in the password field.
Wingate and similar free software are available in the download area of this section. The network computers are configured in the same way with the other programs. For details, see the help files of those programs.
If you have questions, feel free to post them in the forum!