This document explains how to configure PCs running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT 4, 2000, XP together with Samba servers to use WINS. In addition there are details on configuring Windows PCs or Samba servers to act as WINS proxy agents to support clients such as Windows 3.1 PCs that cannot be configured to use WINS directly.

1. Before you Begin — Naming the Computer

Any computer using the central WINS servers must have a computer name that is unique in the WINS database. If it doesn't, the WINS server will refuse registration, and networking services on the PC will be disabled. This can be disastrous for servers and inconvenient for workstations. We have therefore developed naming standards to minimise the risk of a name clash between computers in different units (colleges, departments, etc.). We also recommend that you use the naming standards for naming all Windows servers, regardless of whether they currently make use of the central WINS servers, in case you ever want to change this (NT domain controllers being difficult — and 2000 domain controllers impossible — to rename).

The naming standards are as follows...

The computer name must start with a four or five letter code unique to your unit, where the codes are given in the Unit Codes Used for Naming Windows PCs and Samba Servers Using WINS web page.

Domain names should contain enough of your unit name to guarantee that they will be unique.

NetBIOS names can be a maximum of fifteen characters, so the rest of the name is up to you, but it does need to be unique within your unit. Note that domain names can also clash with computer names (and vice versa.)

There is some flexibility in the list of codes — refer to the Unit Codes Used for Naming Windows PCs and Samba Servers Using WINS web page for details. Note also that the naming standards used to put the code at the end of the name — we had to revise the standards for Windows 2000, but the old ones can still be used for anything else, and we're not expecting you to change the names of computers named according to the old standards.

Note also that we do not advocate changing the names of established NT or 2000 servers, since this can cause a problems and a lot of extra work, and for Windows 2000 domain controllers is actually impossible. If you have an existing server that needs to use the central WINS servers and that has a name that does not conform to the naming standards, see the Protecting or Registering Server Names using Static Mappings section below for a possible way around the problem.

2. Configuring Clients

2.1. Configuring a Windows 95, 98 or Me Workstation to use WINS

  • Make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If it is not, first pick a name that conforms to the standards, then go to the Network control panel and click on the Identification tab and enter the name that you have selected as the Computer Name.
  • In the Network control panel, select [TCP/IP] and go into Properties.
  • Click on the WINS tab.
  • Select [Enable WINS Resolution] and enter the two WINS server addresses as 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college.
  • Close the control panel and reboot.

2.2. Configuring a Windows NT Workstation to use WINS

  • Make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If it is not, first pick a name that conforms to the standards. Then go to the Network control panel and click on the Identification tab and click on Change to enter a unique computer name.
  • Click on the Protocols tab, select [TCP/IP Protocol] and go into Properties.
  • Click on the WINS Address tab.
  • Enter the primary and secondary WINS server addresses as 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college. You can disable [LMHOSTS lookup] unless you know that you need to use it.
  • Close the control panel and reboot.

2.3. Configuring a Windows NT Server to use WINS

  • If you are setting up a new server, make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If necessary, rename it by going to the Network control panel and clicking on the Identification tab and then on Change to change the computer name. However, renaming a domain controller, or a server running major software (e.g. Exchange, SQL Server etc.) is not a good idea, so if your server has been around for a while, don't rename it. Instead contact winsmaster who can check whether there is already a server with this name in the database, and who can if necessary put in a static entry for your server to stop any other computer using the name (see Protecting or Registering Server Names using Static Mappings below.)
  • Click on the Protocols tab, select [TCP/IP Protocol] and go into Properties.
  • Click on the WINS Address tab.
  • Enter the primary and secondary WINS server addresses as 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college. You can disable [LMHOSTS lookup] unless you know that you need to use it.
  • Close the control panel and reboot.

2.4. Configuring a Windows 2000 Professional Workstation to use WINS

  • Make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If it is not, first pick a name that conforms to the standards, then go to the System control panel and click on the Network Identification tab, then on Properties and enter a unique computer name. Close the control panel and either reboot now or at the end.
  • Go to the Network and Dial-up Connections control panel, select Local Area Connection and select [File/Properties].
  • Select [Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)] and go to Properties.
  • Click on Advanced, then on the WINS tab.
  • Add the WINS addresses 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college. You can disable[ LMHOSTS lookup] unless you know that you need to use it.
  • Close the control panel. You won't be prompted to reboot, but you may need to anyway.

2.5. Configuring a Windows 2000 Server to use WINS

  • If you are setting up a new server, make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If necessary, rename it by going to the System control panel and clicking on the Network Identification tab, then on D and entering a unique computer name. However, renaming a domain controller is impossible, and renaming a server running major software (e.g. Exchange, SQL Server etc.) is not a good idea, so if your server has been around for a while, don't rename it. Instead contact winsmaster who can check whether there is already a server with this name in the database, and who can, if necessary, put in a static entry for your server to stop any other computer using the name (see Protecting or Registering Server Names using Static Mappings below.)
  • Go to the Network and Dial-up Connections control panel, select Local Area Connection and select [File/Properties].
  • Select [Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)] and go to Properties.
  • Click on Advanced, then on the WINS tab.
  • Add the WINS addresses 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college. You can disable [LMHOSTS lookup] unless you know that you need to use it.
  • Close the control panel. You won't be prompted to reboot, but you may need to anyway.

2.6. Configuring a Windows XP Professional or Home Edition PC to use WINS

  • Make sure that the PC is named in accordance with the naming standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above). If it is not, first pick a name that conforms to the standards, then go to the System control panel and click on the Computer Name tab, then on Change and enter a unique computer name. Close the control panel and either reboot now or at the end.
  • Go to the Network Connections control panel, select Local Area Connection and select [File/Properties].
  • Select [Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)] and go to Properties.
  • Click on Advanced, then on the WINS tab.
  • Add the WINS addresses 163.1.2.52 and 129.67.1.52 if you are a department, or 129.67.1.52 and 163.1.2.52 if you are a college. You can disable [LMHOSTS lookup] unless you know that you need to use it.
  • Close the control panel. You won't be prompted to reboot, but you may need to anyway.

2.7. Configuring a Samba Server to use WINS

Samba can be configured to register a NetBIOS name with a WINS server using settings in the smb.conf file. The steps involved are as follows.

  • If your Samba server is not named in accordance with the Naming Standards (see the Before you Begin — Naming the Computer section above), select an appropriate name. Note that this name is not the same as the DNS name of the server, and later versions of Samba allow you to configure the Samba server with NetBIOS aliases, so renaming should not cause any problems. By default the NetBIOS name is the same as the first component of the server's DNS name (i.e. up to the first "." character.)
  • Configure your Samba server with the NetBIOS name chosen according to the naming standards using the netbios name = setting in smb.conf.
  • In the smb.conf file, set the wins server = parameter to the IP address of the wins server being used, either 163.1.2.52 (for departments) or 129.67.1.52 (for colleges). Note that a Samba server is only configured with one WINS server address, not both, but the two WINS servers replicate their databases to each other, so in general this is not a problem.
  • If desired, set the workgroup that you wish your server to appear in, again in smb.conf, using the workgroup = parameter. The default is WORKGROUP.
  • If you need to configure NetBIOS aliases, e.g. to ensure that the previous name still works, use the netbios aliases = parameter.
  • The name resolve order = parameter controls the order in which lmhosts, DNS, WINS and broadcasts are used for name resolution.
  • When configuration is complete, restart the smb daemon.

3. WINS for MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 — Proxy Agents

Older MS-DOS, Windows 3.1 or Windows for Workgroups computers cannot be configured for WINS operation and must use network broadcasting for name resolution. A WINS proxy agent is an ordinary Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000 or XP computer that queries the central WINS servers on behalf of non-WINS enabled clients. If you have any non-WINS machines on your subnet and want them to be able to locate servers using WINS, you will need one, or preferably two proxy agents to be configured within that subnet. If you have more than one subnet, you will need to configure WINS proxy agents for each subnet.

Establishing a computer as a WINS proxy agent involves manually editing that computer’s registry. Take the precaution of backing up your registry files before performing these simple modifications since a damaged registry could result in your system becoming unusable.

3.1. Configuring a Windows 95, 98 or Me Workstation as a WINS Proxy Agent

  • Firstly, configure the computer for WINS operation in accordance with the Windows 95/98/Me instructions above.
  • Copy the user.dat and system.dat registry files to a floppy disk in case you need to restore them later. NB: These files can usually be found in your Windows directory (C:\windows); however the hidden and system file attributes may need removing before you can see them.
  • Run the registry editor regedit and navigate to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD\MSTCP
  • Add a new value of type String called EnableProxy and set its value to 1.
  • Exit the registry editor and restart the computer for your changes to take effect.

NOTE: You can verify your Windows 95/98/Me proxy status by entering winipcfg /allinto the d box from the Start menu to produce the IP Configuration dialogue box. You should be able to see a tick against WINS Proxy Enabled.

Winipcfg output showing WINS Proxy enabled

3.2. Configuring a Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 or Windows XP Computer as a WINS Proxy Agent

NOTE: You can verify your Windows NT/2000/XP proxy status by starting a DOS prompt and then running the command ipconfig /all. You should see that WINS Proxy Enabled is set to Yes.

3.3. Configuring a Samba Server as a WINS Proxy Agent

  • First configure the computer for WINS operation in accordance with the Samba instructions above.
  • In the smb.conf file add the setting wins proxy = yes and restart the smb daemon.

4. Protecting or Registering Server Names using Static Mappings

It is possible to enter NetBIOS name to IP address mappings manually into the WINS database and these entries are known as static mappings, and can be used to protect the names of critical servers. Microsoft do not generally advocate the use of static mappings except for servers that cannot register their own NetBIOS names into the WINS database and servers named in accordance with the naming standards should not need be entered as static mappings. However, if you have older servers that are not named in accordance with the naming standards, these can be entered into the WINS database as static mappings to protect their names.

In addition, if you operate your own WINS servers, but have external workstations that use the central WINS servers that need to be able to locate your servers, these server names can also be entered as static mappings into the central WINS databases. Doing so should allow external workstations using the central WINS servers to locate your servers without needing entries in their LMHOSTS files.

Static mappings can be made for server names, domain names, and Samba server NetBIOS names; be aware however that NT and 2000 workstations that are members of a domain really need to use the WINS servers that the domain controller uses, since they need an entry that is only registered by the primary domain controller and cannot be entered using a static mapping. This problem does not affect workstations accessing shares on the domain controller; it is only a problem for workstations that are actually members of the domain.

Please e-mail any static mappings required to winsmaster. You can include details of domain names as well as servers and you need to include the following information.

  • Whether the entry is unique (for a server name), multihomed (for a server with more than one IP address) or a domain.
  • For a unique or multihomed entry, give the IP address(es) and NetBIOS (or computer) name of the server. Note that this is not the same as its DNS name.
  • For a domain entry, give the IP address of the primary domain controller (NT) or first domain controller (2000) and the domain name.

5. Common Misconceptions and Configuration Problems

As our experience of WINS increases, we are becoming more aware of common misconceptions, and problematic configurations. Here are some of them.

5.1. Misconceptions

The central WINS service means that I don't need to follow the naming conventions
FALSE The WINS servers will not allow duplicate names to be registered, but they do not prevent machines from trying to register duplicate names. There used to be several primary domain controllers called SERVER. Only one could use the central WINS service. Any others who wanted to use the central WINS service would first need to be renamed (in fact we did have to rename one of them.)

If I configure a PC with both a primary and secondary WINS server, it will register its name with both
FALSE The PC will attempt to register its name with the primary WINS server. If it fails it will try the secondary, and so on until it succeeds. However in the case of name resolution, certainly for newer operating systems it will request name resolution from the secondary if the name is not present in the database of the primary

Configuring a PC to use WINS means that it will not use broadcasts
FALSE TCP/IP broadcasts are generally stopped at routers. However a PC configured to use WINS will still use broadcasts on its local subnet, both for name resolution, and to announce its presence. Any PC configured to use WINS servers will generally operate in hybrid mode. That means that when resolving names, it will query the WINS servers first and broadcast if that fails. This can be altered by means of a registry key but is generally best left as it is.

5.2. Configuration Problems

  • Configuring primary and secondary WINS servers on a machine that has a WINS server installed. If you run your own Windows-based WINS servers, then on any server that is running WINS you should configure both the primary and secondary WINS server entries to point to itself. This is because regardless of what you put in these fields, the server will eventually end up registering with itself. However, when it first boots up, because the WINS server starts after some of the services try to register with it, if you configure it with different primary or secondary WINS servers it will initially put some entries into the database on one of these servers. This is called split registration and can lead to unexpected results with name resolution. If it is configured only with its own address it will keep retrying the registrations until they succeed.
  • Failing to configure a multihomed static entry for a multihomed host. If a static entry is put into the WINS database for a multihomed computer, but the entry is not entered as multihomed, and the PC concerned is using the same WINS database to register services and resolve NetBIOS names, there will be a name clash. Multihomed computers must have multihomed static entries (or no static entries at all)

6. Further Information

If you want to know about more about WINS, particularly its relationship with NetBIOS names and network browsing, look at the WINS — Windows Internet Naming Service page first. If you have further queries, contact winsmaster. The winsmaster has considerable expertise in WINS, name resolution, server location, network browsing, name clashes etc. Unfortunately there is no way for you to query the WINS database yourselves, but the winsmaster will happily check that machines are registering themselves correctly if you include details of machine name and/or IP addresses that you would like checked.