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I'm very weak on networking and hope someone can point me in the right direction:

I have written some windows client/server software which incorporates a database which is located on a windows server. I have a test installation running at a customer's office where the server has a static IP address. In this case its easy for the clients to access the database because of the fixed IP address. Also, customers with network servers generally have specialist support staff to set up my software, so its not such a problem for me.

However I also need to offer the software to customers who have small offices with less than 10 PCs and no dedicated network server. In this case I want the customer to be able to nominate one PC as the database "server" and install my software and have the clients access it. But in this situation I believe the "server" PC may not have a dedicated IP address.

Q1: What is the best way to set this up simply and make it work? Can I reliably reference the "server" by using its name, or is there a way to assign dummy fixed IP addresses? Ideally this needs to be workable on small networks running a mixture of XP/Vista/Windows7 as my target market may well have mixed OSes etc. I guess this would be akin to home networking?

Many thanks Mitch

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It sounds like any of these customers with 10 PC networks would easily be able to assign a static IP address to a specific machine - even if they're using DHCP from a small internet router all they'd have to do would be to reduce the scope by one and manually assign that address the same details DHCP would have assigned (IP/NM/DG/DNS etc.) - basically it's not remotely difficult to setup like this. That said you should be able to just use the machine name instead of IP without having to give this machine a dedicated IP.

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if they are using NetBios over TCP they should be able to get to the computer by name even without a DHCP server.

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Thanks. Does this come installed by default or would they need to configure it manually? Where could I find clear instructions for a newby on how to do this? –  Mitch May 4 '10 at 17:45
    
I think that broadcast querying comes installed with XP and after. would be easy to check, just try to ping the machine in question by name. –  BlackICE May 5 '10 at 12:21
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