OK, let's make sure I've got this right:
My understanding is that Dave, who is your flatmate, is a misguided individual who's running XP and has a permanent connection to th'Internet? (Openworld?)
You want to have your Mandrake 8.1 box set up with a static IP address for some reason?
AFAIK, if Dave sets up his XP machine to to share his connection (ICS - that a shared Internet connection?) then Windows says something like:
I'm now going to set myself to IP address 192.168.0.1 and I am going to be the DHCP master. You have *no* choice in this is you want to share your Internet connection. (I had no end of problems when I originally did this because my little Edimax print servers were also set up as DHCPs!)
So, given Dave's XP machine is now a DHCP master, if you want to have a static IP address on any machines on the LAN, you must tell the XP machine to only dish out IP address *above* a certain value. Then, you must have all your static IP address *below* that value. eg. Make the XP machine start the dynamic IP addresses at 192.168.0.100 - then ensure that any IP addresses you assign to be static, in the range 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.99
I'm afraid I don't know how to do this off the top of my head, I'd need to be in front of an XP machine and I don't know anyone stupid enough to run XP. ;-)
In reply to a couple of your specific questions:
>> Here's what I'm reading:
I can set my machine to statically be 192.168.0.2. The XP box can be the DHCP server and give out dynamic IP addresses to all others machines in the range of 192.168.0.1 --> 192.168.0.255, with the exception of 192.168.0.2 because that's my machine. <<
I must confess I'm not 100% sure whether the DHCP server is intelligent enough to look at all the existing IP address and ensure it doesn't dish out the same one as one on, say, your sister's machine. It might well just keep a local cache and assign a number not in its cache. Someone more knowledgeable out there might be able to tell us! But the way to prevent the possibility of this happening would be to make sure the XP machine will only dish IP addresses outside of your static IP address range as explained above.
>> Am I right so far? If this is so, would the XP box always be 192.168.0.1, and how could I stop it from assigning 192.168.0.2 to my sisters' computer if that's booted before mine? <<
Yes, the XP box - *because you made it the machine that shares its Internet connection* will *always* be 192.168.0.1. That's certainly the way Win2k works. I know 'cos I am that soldier! <g>
I am afraid I simply don't know - other than telling you to use the connection wizard - how to connect your Mandrake box to the Internet. As I said before, it just worked for me and I was bloody grateful for that. I'll go hacking around config files etc when I have more time, and more in depth knowledge of Linux. In fact when I have everything set up and going, I'm going to try connecting my jellyfish to a Linux box and get rid of the Windows 2k machine that connects directly to the Internet. :-)
Does that make sense now? Don't hesitate to post back it it's not clear.