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What IS netBIOS anyway???

Discussion in 'CIW Certifications' started by stuPeas, May 24, 2007.

  1. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    Can somebody PLEASE explain what netBIOS actually is and how it relates to the TCP/IP model. Ive never understood it, and googleing it gets you a different explanation each time!!! (Its a protocol....no...its an aplication...eer...its a service isn't it).

    It would be great if someone could put the answer in terms that are understandable. The explanations on the web SAY what it is, but in a very matter-of-fact way, and with no thorough explanation.

    Cheers Guys.
     
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  2. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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    netBIOS is a protocal that uses broadcasts to contact another PC on the same network segmant - hence it has a high overhead with regards to Network Traffic! It does not relate to TCP/IP at all and is an old (LANmanger, NT) IBM/Microsoft answer to host to host communication. The protocal is non-routable but very simple to setup, however; you wouldn't want to use it in a network consisting of 10 or more PCs. I believe that they only time that TCP/IP comes into play is for WINS - the translation of NetBIOS names to IP.

    I believe that's as simple as it gets!
     
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  3. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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  4. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    Nope still dont get it!!! I know its a naming convention/protocal, as you said. But it does relate to TCP/IP in the sense of "netbios over tcp/ip". Also how does SMB fit into it all.

    I think its more of a technical answer that I need.

    Thanks.
     
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  5. Clyde

    Clyde Megabyte Poster

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    think of it like this - tcp/ip carries messages from A to B

    NetBIOS defines the content and format of those messages
     
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  6. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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    no probs m8 - I think I fooked up there myself...shame on me! Wiki has a great explanation as far as I'm concerned!
     
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  7. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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    it works with TCP/IP - it also works with IPX/SPX and Netbeui too! However, it was developed seperatly from them..so don't get confused with thinking that it's solely related to TCP/IP.
     
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  8. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    Let me try asking another way. If Ive got a LAN, could that LAN be made to NOT use TCP/IP, but instead use NetBIOS: In other words, is it a protocol implementation in its own right.

    If not, and it uses TCP/IP, then where does it fall in the OSI model (or TCP/IP stack)? : Is it a network layer protocol, application layer protocol, or what? Where is it used and what would a typical communication go like?

    I feel like I'm just missing something really simple!!

    I know I'm being a pain guys, but I'm one of those people that HAS to know EVERYTHING about a concept if I'm to understand it!!
     
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  9. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    I thought that the format of the message was determined by the data-link layer (i.e. Ethernet Frame, Token Ring, etc).

    And surely the content of the message is determined by the command issued by the application layer, which itself is determined by the task that the requesting program wants to achieve.
     
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  10. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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  11. Clyde

    Clyde Megabyte Poster

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    no, no, no - an application sends a message (often called a primitive) e.g. open file. This message gets formatted into something that NetBIOS understands - a standard if you like, that can be sent to another PC and then understood. To get there, we use TCP/IP to address the message over a LAN or WAN, and then the data link layer sends it to the next hop.

    I know that's heavy but all thse models ARE confusing because none are directly comparable OSI is theory. MS have their own, as do Novell etc....

    great fun!

    and you're getting confused by my use of the word formatting - formatting merely means laying out something. That happens at all layers.
     
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  12. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    I was just reading something an thought i nearly had it. But compairing it to your description, It is actualy NetBIOS (Its described as an interface) that does the formatting into something that the Hardware understands. I dont know where name resolution would fit in this picture, maybe netBios does that too!!. If this is correct then it seems that netbios has the same ultimate function as any networking protocol, and that TCP/IP has nothing to do with it. In other words, NetBIOS performs all the functions of the protocols in the OSI (well, not ALL of them: only those completely nessecary). It seems that NetBEUI (described as a protocol) adds the functionality of the OSI that was missing from NetBIOS.

    Am I any closer???
     
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  13. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You can run a network using only NetBEUI... but it's not routable. These days, you'd be crazy to use anything but TCP/IP.
     
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  14. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    Cheers Michael, but arent there situations when netBios HAS to be used for support issues? Do you know what these situations are?

    Thanx for the help so far people, I think im getting closer!!
     
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  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You use NetBIOS over TCP/IP. In the old days, you used NetBIOS over NetBEUI or IPX/SPX, but there's no reason to do so today... EVERYTHING uses TCP/IP.

    NetBIOS naming is still used... unsure what else you'd need it for.
     
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  16. Tinus1959

    Tinus1959 Gigabyte Poster

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    Not Michael, but he'll understand :biggrin
    In the beginning of networking every vendor had its own way of communicating with other computers, printers and so on.
    Apple had its Appletalk, Novell had IPX/SPX and IBM had NetBIOS.
    In the old days (I'm talking windows for workgroups 3.11 now) you could just connect some computers and they could talk to each other as long as they spoke the same language. Look at netBIOS as such a language.
    You could have computers speaking two languages. Just like humans can speak (lets say) English and Spanish.
    TCP/IP is just another language.
    Now you already know that netbios can not pass routers. But TCP/IP can. So why not take a netbios packet and wrap this in a tcp/ip box? That "trick" is called NBT (NetBios over Tcp/ip).
    Can you live without netbios? Most cases: yes. There are some programs that just do not run smoothly without netbios, but if you do not use these programs, you can kill netbios.
    What programs need netbios? That's a tricky question. Some badly written webbased application sometimes.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  17. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    YES YES YES, Tinus YOU ARE A STAR!!!.
    I knew it was something simple.

    Thanx to everyone who has taken the time to answer me, and thanx for your patience.

    Stuart
     
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  18. Clyde

    Clyde Megabyte Poster

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    I hate to muddy the waters but if 2 computers are using NetBIOS ONLY they cannot talk as NetBIOS is missing a very importat bit.. logical and physical addressing.

    Logical and physical addressing is what NetBEUI (Netbios Extended User Interface) TCP/IP, IPX et al provide.

    But the gist is correct!
     
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  19. stuPeas

    stuPeas Megabyte Poster

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    I thought that the LMHosts file could be used to perform address resolution (of course, in a flat namespace), and so the Network Layer protocols you mention are not nessesarilt needed on a segment.

    Is this correct?????
     
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  20. Clyde

    Clyde Megabyte Poster

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    lmhosts maps logical names to logical addresses. The lower layers are still needed to resolve those logical address to physical NIC addresses

    Or in other words, it matches names to numbers and we still need the lower end of the stack to locate those numbers on the LAN
     
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