IT Services

Configuring WINS Client Computers


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

2.2. Configuring a Windows NT Workstation to use WINS

2.3. Configuring a Windows NT Server to use WINS

2.4. Configuring a Windows 2000 Professional Workstation to use WINS

2.5. Configuring a Windows 2000 Server to use WINS

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

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.

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

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.

Figure proxy1.jpg [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

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.

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

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.