Step 1: Download Toadnode from www.toadnode.com. You'll need the private network features in version 0.94 or later, so if you already have Toadnode check your version by clicking on Help and then on About Toadnode.
Step 2: The sixth screen in the installation process gives you an option to QuickConnect to Gnutella Network. For a private network installation you should answer NO to this question instead of the recommended YES.
Step 3: Configure the private network handshake message. In the View menu, select Options and then the Server tab. Clicking on the Advanced button opens a window into which you can enter a custom connection string and response. There are no rules about what the string should contain, but it should be unique to the group of computers that will make up the private network. Silly, unique, non-English words like "beensmorg" or "elderfloo" work nicely. You'll need at least two computers running Toadnode and configured with the same private network handshake message. The computers don't need to be in the same location or TCP/IP network, but they'll need to have identical network handshake messages. Clicking on the Default button will restore the handshake message to the normal Gnutella protocol settings.
Step 4: Make sure Toadnode is running on at least two machines, and that the private network handshake message has been modified as described in Step 3. By default, the Active Nodes window is displayed on the right-hand side of the application. If this window isn't displayed you can click on the Hosts button on the toolbar to open the Active Nodes window.
It will be helpful to know the IP address of each machine to which you'll connect. (Windows 95/98 users can type the command winipcfg into a DOS shell window; Windows NT/2000 users can use the command ipconfig). The default port that Toadnode uses is 6346. On one of these computers enter the IP address, a colon, and the port of one of the other computers (for example: 192.168.1.119:6346). Then click on Add in the Active Nodes window.
In a production environment you may wish to have all users initially connect to a designated seed server computer, running Toadnode continuously and participating in the P2P network. When Toadnode Pings this single machine, multiple Pongs identifying other active computers on the network will be returned. You can also add the seed server to the default QuickConnect list in Toadnode, eliminating the need for users to know IP addresses.
The Active Nodes window contains two elements, a list of active nodes and the Node Catcher below it. You can verify the status of your connections in the Active Nodes window. Do this by moving the horizontal scrollbar to the right until you see Status (S, R, D, B). Successful connections are indicated by "OK" and a series of numbers representing Sent, Received, Dropped, and Bad. Nodes listed as Connecting are in the process of negotiating a P2P connection. As Nodes disconnect, Toadnode automatically pulls new Nodes from the Node Catcher and places them in the Active Nodes window to maintain a specified number of active connections.
Step 5: Share files by clicking on the View menu, then Options, and then the Share tab. The asterisk character (*) can be used as a wildcard at the beginning, end, or middle of a search. Multiple searches can be performed simultaneously by clicking on the New Search button in the toolbar. Each search gets its own search window.