Peer-to-Peer network operating system

Published: 24th May 2010
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Peer-to-peer network OS is an operating system that allows users to share and access resources found on the network and the ones located in other computers connected with the network. In a peer-to-peer network, all the computers have equal access to resources. Peer-to-peer networks are used in small and medium LANs. Some of the popular peer-to-peer NOS are Windows98, Windows 95, Windows for Workgroups, NetWare Lite, AppleShare, and Artisoft LANtastic.

Development of peer-to-peer network- The use of peer-to-peer network started in the early 1980s. The PCs were stand-alone computers with built-in hard drives and CPUs. Sharing of files or applications had to be physically carried from one computer to the other. This means a PC would be dedicated to the printer and to take out a print, one has to physically carry the document to be printed, to the PC that is connected to the printer. This is called the development of peer-to-peer network.

A peer-to-peer network uses a client-server setup. Network hardware and software needs to be installed on all PCs to be connected to the network. The network can be wireless with small workgroups of a maximum 16 PCs. The PCs can be disconnected when not required. In this system, there is no dedicated operating system, the PCs are workstations equipped with operating system that helps to share, store resources with each other. The OS functions are relatively small when compared to the networks with servers. However, some of the basic features include network printing and sharing of files.

A peer-to-peer operating system allows individual users to define, which drives can be shared. The work group cannot access those not defined by the user as sharable resources. The defined drive that is configured as sharable will appear as a separate drive to the group.

It is least expensive to setup a peer-to-peer network. Any one can get linked to it with minimal expense. No dedicated server is required. Since, the system already has an operating system, converting it to a dedicated peer-to-peer operating system requires reconfiguration only. No network administrator is required to manage the network group and is easy to setup. Unlike the client-server system, the peer-to-peer system is decentralized, which means any PC attached to the system acts both as a client and as a server.

There is no central server dedicated to the network. This means there is no repository option for storing files and applications. There is no dedicated security system similar to the client/server network system. Another main disadvantage is that peer-to-peer network is not capable of functioning like client-server network. The amount of data flow is much less than the client-server network, but those PCs connected to the network can share and store resources.

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