A network consists of multiple computers connected using some type of interface, each having one or more interface devices such as a Network Interface Card (NIC) and/or a serial device for PPP networking. Each computer is supported by network software that provides the server or client functionality. The hardware used to transmit data across the network is called the media. It may include copper cable, fiber optic, or wireless transmission. The standard cabling used for the purposes of this document is 10Base-T category 5 ethernet cable. This is twisted copper cabling which appears at the surface to look similar to TV coaxial cable. It is terminated on each end by a connector that looks much like a phone connector. Its maximum segment length is 100 meters.
There are two main types of network categories which are:
- —>Server based
In a server based network, there are computers set up to be primary providers of services such as file service or mail service. The computers providing the service are are called servers and the computers that request and use the service are called client computers.
In a peer-to-peer network, various computers on the network can act both as clients and servers. For instance, many Microsoft Windows based computers will allow file and print sharing. These computers can act both as a client and a server and are also referred to as peers. Many networks are combination peer-to-peer and server based networks. The network operating system uses a network data protocol to communicate on the network to other computers. The network operating system supports the applications on that computer. A Network Operating System (NOS) includes Windows NT, Novell Netware, Linux, Unix and others.
Three Network Topologies
The network topology describes the method used to do the physical wiring of the network. The main ones are bus, star, and ring.
- Bus – Both ends of the network must be terminated with a terminator. A barrel connector can be used to extend it.
- Star – All devices revolve around a central hub, which is what controls the network communications, and can communicate with other hubs. Range limits are about 100 meters from the hub.
- Ring – Devices are connected from one to another, as in a ring. A data token is used to grant permission for each computer to communicate.
There are also hybrid networks including a star-bus hybrid, star-ring network, and mesh networks with connections between various computers on the network. Mesh networks ideally allow each computer to have a direct connection to each of the other computers. The topology this documentation deals with most is star topology since that is what ethernet networks use.
TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume1, The Protocols
Author:W. Richard Stevens, Publisher: Addison Wesley. ISBN 0201633469