Why dual network cards?

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This page was written by Pluto and imported with their permission when LinuxMCE branched off in February, 2007. In general any information should apply to LinuxMCE. However, this page should be edited to reflect changes to LinuxMCE and remove old references to Pluto.

If you have multiple computers connected in a network, every computer needs to have a unique IP address that identifies itself to the network. The DHCP server has the responsibility of assigning IP addresses. Normally one computer or device--and only one--will be the DHCP server. Whenever a computer or other device is plugged into the network it will normally ask the DHCP server for a unique IP address. In a typical home network the DSL or Cable Modem acts as the DHCP server and gives IP addresses.

If you want to use Pluto's plug-and-play, which allows you to just plug any device into any jack (camera, phone, media director, etc.) and have Pluto automatically configure the device, then the Pluto Core needs to be the DHCP server. The same is true if you want the media directors to be dual purpose media director appliances and normal pc's.

If your existing cable or DSL modem is configured to be the DHCP server you will need to disable its internal DHCP server if you want the Core to be the DHCP server--there can only be 1 DHCP serveron the network. If you have dual network cards in the Core this is not an issue. Hookup your internet connection (DSL/Cable modem, etc.) to one network card. This is your 'external' network where the internet comes in. And connect your other network card to the Ethernet switch where all your media directors and other computers are connected--your 'internal' network. The DSL/Cable modem is then the DHCP server for the 'external' network, and the Core is the DHCP server for your 'internal' network. If you don't understand this, don't worry--the Core will configure itself for you and you won't need to change any settings in your DSL/Cable Modem

Another advantage of dual network cards is that then all internet traffic is forced to go through the Core. The Core then handles allocating your bandwidth automatically, giving higher priority to telephone and video calls so the connection is very smooth. It's all automatic if you use the Kick-Start CD and have dual network cards--there is nothing to configure.