How to connect one computer to more than one network...

Hey guys, I was hoping that a couple of the more computer savy here could gimme some help. Actually the help is for my mom. She has a laptop that her company issued to her and when she uses it at work she plugs the network cable into it and logs onto the network and does her thing. But when she is at home she needs to use the modem to call into work to log onto the network and it is too slow. Now, I have DSL, and a home network run off of a Redhat Linux box and I want to be able to have her connect to my network. The problem is I have no idea how to set a computer up to be able to connect to two different networks. The IP address she has a work, which is dynamic anyway, is different from the IP she will have on my network, which is static. Not to mention the different subnet, gateway, and DNS settings. So does anyone know of a way to be able to connect to two different networks on one computer? I was thinking along the lines of a shareware program or something that would run a script to change the internet settings depending on whether your at home or at work. Or maybe Windows has a way to define different networks and I just can’t find it.

Anyway, any help you can give me would be great. And my mom isn’t the only one who wants this question answered. There are about 10 different people at her work including a VP who want to know how to do this. So think of any help you give as benefiting a whole group of people. THANKS FOR ANY HELP!!!


Could you perhaps get your Linux box (or your DSL router, if you have one of those) to run as a DHCP server ? (I presume that’s what’s being used in your mother’s workplace.)That would be completely non-intrusive as regards the laptop. Those are a royal pain in the rearside to fiddle with, IMHO.

I faced this same problem a couple of years ago and found a small utility on tucows that let me select different network settings at boot time, but I was never really happy with it.

Out of curiousity: Will your mother’s office network be reachable through you DSL connection in the first place ?

S. Norman

Well I’m not sure this is what your looking for but if she is running windows on her laptop you could easily set up two separate user profiles, one with her work’s network settings and one with your dsl network settings

Start -> settings -> control panel -> users

then there is a nice wizard to help you through the process and if that doesn’t work you can always resort to a dual boot system but you run into the problem of keeping your data fully intact and redundant on each partition.

good luck

Spiny Norman - The only problem with your suggestion is that even with DCHP, you still have to set the gateway and the DNS servers manually. So while I could issue my mother’s computer an IP from my Linux box, unless we changed her settings each time, her computer’s gateway and DNS settings would be from her work and would not work at my location. Oh and add the subnet to the things I would have to chage also. And as far as my mother’s network being accessable from my house, while we will not be able to access the actual network with shared folders and stuff, she will be able to get her email, which is the most important thing.

LifeWillFall - Well, that is a great idea except that my mom’s work uses Win2000 which is already a log-in system.

But I think Life has the answer, if we could set up an additional user on her computer ourselves. So for a login it could be “home” or something like that. Then, it would probably allow us to set that login up as a home login with my DSL settings and things like that. I just need to make sure that the desktop and personal folders are the same ones for each login. Maybe I could alias them or something. I know that would work in a Mac, but I doubt a Windows. Well, it’s worth a try, and I think I might have a working solution, I hope.

If anyone has ANY ideas on this plan, or any other plan, I would be most grateful. Thanks again for your help.


I think I could envy you, Strider. From your questions and comments, it sounds like you get to use non-MS software to a very large extent.

Sorry, no aliases (or links in the Unix sense) under DOS/Windows. There was (and probably still is) a way to assign a drive letter to a directory or another drive under DOS, but it has been about a dozen years since I last did it and it wouldn’t help you anyway.
LifeWillFall has a good idea, but the real tricky thing there will be getting the desktop and personal files available to both logins.

I would try this:

  1. Set up DHCP on your Linux network.
  2. Make sure that the laptop is setup to get its IP address via DHCP. It will also get the subnet assigned automatically.
  3. Add the IP address of your Linux DHCP server to the gateways list. The gateway from work should be first, followed by your home gateway.
  4. Add the IP address of your Linux DNS server to the DNS list on the laptop.
  5. If this works as I think it should, then logging in at work will be as fast as ever and logging in at home will take a little longer (God only knows how long - he doesn’t talk to me and I refuse to ask Mr. Gates and company) due to the timeouts on the gateway search, and DNS inquiries will be a little slower.

If that doesn’t work, or setting up DHCP at home is not an option, then try Life’s suggestion and add a batch file to the Autostart of each of the two logins to copy all relevant stuff from the other login’s directories at each change logon. Messy crap.
If the laptop were using Linux, then you could just make a shell script to shut down the network and restart it with the correct parameters for your home network. Then you would just logon as usual and start the script to get access to the home network.
Windows has command line program (NET)to start and stop the network, but you can’t control parameters with it.

I beg to differ. DHCP will issue default gateway and DNS server just fine.

S. Norman