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Windows XP, XP64, Vista, and Linux machines refuse to play nicely together.
November 5, 2008 1:02 AM   Subscribe

Windows XP, XP64, Vista, and Linux machines refuse to play nicely together - Why can't I get them to ping each other? I am trying to hook up a mixed network for file/print sharing, network gaming and the like, but I seem to be having basic IP issues and I'm pulling my hair out trying to figure out the problem!

I am attempting to set up a mixed wired/wireless network spread out across multiple rooms. Currently I am using a D-Link DGL-4300 wireless router to share the (single) IP address given by my ISP through NAT to the wired/wireless network. To be thorough I'll give you the network topology (though I have already ruled out hardware issues):

Three rooms are wired back to the network closet using the T568B standard, and connected via cat-5 cables to the DGL-4300. In room A one Windows XP64 Pro SP2 computer (for security Windows Defender only) is connected directly from the wall jack.

In room B one Windows XP SP2 computer (Comodo Firewall) is connected via a 5-Port Linksys hub.

In room C one Xbox 360 and one Windows XP Home SP2 computer (Norton 360 installed) are connected to the wall jack via a Dynex 10/100 5-Port fast ethernet switch, and chained to that is a Netgear 8-Port 10/100 fast ethernet switch. Connected to this are one Windows XP64 Pro SP2 machine (Comodo Firewall), one Windows XP Home SP2 machine (Comodo Firewall), and usually one D-Link wireless router (with DHCP server turned off, to extend the wireless network) though this is currently disconnected to help troubleshoot the wired network problems.

Also in the building are another Xbox 360 connected wirelessly and three laptops. One is XP Home SP2 (norton), one Vista Home Premium (Norton), and the last one is the laptop I have been using to test the physical connections and hardware - I'm dual booting Vista Home Premium (Comodo) and Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex (8.10).

Here is the problem: Every single machine sees the internet without problems. They all ping the router, see web sites, reach the DNS server and sites by both name & IP address, and generally are happy when it comes to things outside of the trusted network. However, only one computer on the network is able to be pinged, by every other computer - the XP64 machine in room A. I can't test outgoing pings from the Xbox 360s, but they cannot be pinged.

The only exception to this is my Vista/Linux laptop - when booting to Linux, the Linux machine is able to be pinged by any computer on the network (and it happily and easily sees the PC in room A, far less painfully than networks setup on Windows...). However, booting it to Vista makes it unreachable. It makes no difference if the machine is connected wirelessly or through a wire.

I've played with the network hardware and cabling, and none of it makes a difference. The machines themselves (and more properly, their OSs) are having problems seeing each other. It doesn't matter if I put them on the same workgroup or not (which I have,) or if NetBIOS over TCP/IP is turned on (which it is). I have also tried both defining "trusted zones" and completely shutting off firewall protection for the PCs, without any change in this behavior. I have tried setting static IPs on the same address range, with no luck.

The computers/Xbox 360s are all on the same IP address range (192.168.0.x), with no IP conflicts due to static IPs being set (when setting these I put them on a range outside of the DHCP range), and all are set to subnet mask 255.255.255.0. All have the proper gateway set.

The affected PCs can ping themselves, ping the router, and ping the PC in room A (and, if it is booting to Ubuntu, the Linux laptop), but not ping each other. The PC in room A and the Linux laptop can ping each other, but cannot ping any of the affected devices on the network. I have two gaming PCs in room C which can see network games such as Sins of a Solar Empire and Neverwinter Nights 2 which each other host, but not ping each other.

(While previewing the message, I had an idea, and tried an Ubuntu Live CD on the PC in room B - sure enough, upon boot it was reachable by other PCs on the network. So the problem is Windows-specific, and definitely not hardware/location-specific)

Can anyone help me figure out why they can't ping? I can probably figure out the rest, once this basic question is resolved.

Sorry for the length of this question, but I figured I ought to be thorough. By the way, if someone has a suggestion for a forum where I can get personal help from a more targetted user base, I am happy to try that as well.

Thank you so much!
posted by Nixie Pixel to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
They can't ping because their firewalls are dropping the ping requests. Turn all the firewalls off and try again. In fact, I recommend uninstalling all those software firewalls, especially the Norton POS.

You have a NAT router protecting you from incoming connection requests from the wider Internet. Provided you practice appropriate digital hygiene, the only thing the software firewalls are going to buy you is trouble. The inbuilt Windows firewalls are more than sufficient.
posted by flabdablet at 1:24 AM on November 5, 2008


Thank you for the suggestion - I uninstalled Comodo Firewall from this current PC. Upon reboot it still cannot be pinged or seen from the network. Perhaps there is another problem?
posted by Nixie Pixel at 1:53 AM on November 5, 2008


OK, time to bring out the big guns. Install Wireshark on both the machines you're trying to get to talk to one another, and you should be able to see all network traffic incoming and outgoing on both. If that thing in Room B really is a hub, as opposed to a switch, just hanging a machine with Wireshark off one of the ports should be enough. Wireshark is also available via the Synaptic package manager, if you want it on your Ubuntu box as well.

I still reckon this is going to end up being a firewall issue. Software firewalls bury their nasty little barbed hooks deep into Windows, and they often don't remove them properly even after uninstall and reboot. Sometimes they have poorly-documented procedures for doing a full or "clean" uninstall, too (Zone Alarm is like this).

Norton products, in particular, are a pain in the arse to get rid of completely. If there was a previous installation of Norton on your Comodo-loaded box, try running the Norton Removal Tool over it as well as uninstalling Comodo.
posted by flabdablet at 2:10 AM on November 5, 2008


Thanks again for your help. I will get Wireshark as soon as possible and test this.

The machine I uninstalled Comodo from was an XP Pro 64 that was reformatted not more than a month ago, with very little installed on it. It is a gaming PC so it is running pretty lean (aside from the firewall+Antivir antivirus). Frankly, if there is an issue with nasty little hooks leftover, I would rather just do another clean install. It would be a breeze based on how little I actually have on the PC at the moment.
posted by Nixie Pixel at 2:27 AM on November 5, 2008


After installing Wireshark, it seems that the XP64 machine is receiving, but not responding to, the ICMP ping request.

So...where do I begin looking for these nasty little barbed hooks? ;)
posted by Nixie Pixel at 3:22 AM on November 5, 2008


What IP addresses and netmasks are you using? Is your firewall giving out DHCP addresses?
posted by Malor at 3:29 AM on November 5, 2008


All IPs are on the range 192.168.0.100-255. Netmask is 255.255.255.0. Static IPs, when assigned, are on the range 192.168.0.25-99 192.168.0.1 is the router, .2-24 are reserved for network devices, if necessary.

The DGL-4300 is assigning the dynamic IPs, there are no other DHCP servers on the network.
posted by Nixie Pixel at 3:34 AM on November 5, 2008


I haven't had to clean up after Comodo before so I'm guessing, but these removal instructions look promising.

If you find yourself unable to remove the LEGACY registry keys as mentioned in that article, that will probably be because those keys don't have write permissions for Administrators by default. Administrators do, however, have permission to change the permissions of any registry key, so if you get Access Denied when attempting to delete one, changing the key's permission for Everyone from Read to Full Control should get around that.
posted by flabdablet at 3:40 AM on November 5, 2008


I don't know if this will help you but I recently had to put a few new computers with vista on my network. When vista detected the network instead of nicely joining the one that was already in place, it made it's own. >:>( Then it would not let any of my XP computers access any shared files unless I made a user account on the vista computer for each XP computer. After I did that, everything seemed to run fine.... for now. Anyways the moral of the story is Vista blows.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:25 AM on November 5, 2008


Is the built-in XP firewall running? It drops ping by default.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:30 AM on November 5, 2008


If that doesnt do it then delete the network adapter from the hardware manager and reinstall it (it will do this automatically on reboot). That usually removes any hooks or left over cruft from previous firewall/security software.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:31 AM on November 5, 2008


Yeah, I'm gonna join the crowd here and diagnose it as "too much firewall." Also, get rid of one of the switches in Room C.
posted by rhizome at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2008


Well, after giving up for the night, figuring I was in for a long day of troubleshooting today, I left the XP64 machine off to think about what a bad PC it has been.

Upon turning it on today, it was pingable by other machines on the network. Go figure.

I guess it was uninstalling Comodo, but what happened to make it pingable after that...I can't say.

Thank you again!
posted by Nixie Pixel at 1:23 PM on November 5, 2008


dda, if I remember correctly, using the Network Setup Wizard to turn on file and printer sharing also tells the inbuilt Windows firewall not to drop ping requests.
posted by flabdablet at 2:24 PM on November 6, 2008


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