Peer-to-peer network operating systems allow users to share resources and files located on their computers and to access shared resources found on other computers. However, they do not have a file server or a centralized management source (See fig.).
In a peer-to-peer network, all computers are considered equal; they all have the same abilities to use the resources available on the network. Peer-to-peer networks are designed primarily for small to medium local area networks. Nearly all modern desktop operating systems, such as Macintosh OSX, Linux, and Windows, can function as peer-to-peer network operating systems.
Advantages of a peer-to-peer network:
- Less initial expense - No need for a dedicated server.
- Setup - An operating system (such as Windows XP) already in place may only need to be reconfigured for peer-to-peer operations.
Disadvantages of a peer-to-peer network:
- Decentralized - No central repository for files and applications.
- Security - Does not provide the security available on a client/server network.