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  1. Introduction
  2. Network Topology
  3. Hardware Connections
  4. TCP/IP Ports and Addresses
  5. Network Protocol Levels
  6. Data Link Layer and IEEE
  7. Network Protocol Categories
  8. Repeaters, Bridges, Routers
  9. ARP and RARP Address Translation
  10. Basic Addressing
  11. IP (Network)
  12. TCP (Transport)
  13. UDP (Transport)
  14. ICMP
  15. Hardware Cabling
  16. Wireless media
  17. Outside Connections
  18. Ethernet
  19. Token Ring
  20. ARCnet
  21. AppleTalk
  22. FDDI
  23. IPX/SPX
  24. NetBEUI
  25. AppleTalk
  26. SNA
  27. Others
  28. Simple Routing
  29. More Complex Routing
  30. IP Masquerading
  31. Firewalls
  32. Domain Name Service (DNS)
  33. Virtual Private Networking
  34. DHCP
  35. BOOTP
  36. RPC and NFS
  37. Broadcasting and Multicasting
  38. IGMP
  39. Dynamic Routing Protocols
  40. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  41. Simple Network Management Protocol
  42. Network Services
  43. Installing Drivers
  44. Network Operating Systems
  45. Applications
  46. Wide Area Networks
  47. Backing up the network
  48. Fault Tolerance
  49. Troubleshooting
  50. Commonly used Network Ports
  51. Networking Terms and Definitions
  52. Networking RFCs and Protocols
  53. Further Reading
  54. Credits

Network Topology

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.

Network Categories

There are two main types of network categories which are:

  • Server based
  • Peer-to-peer

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.

Network topologies
  1. Bus - Both ends of the network must be terminated with a terminator. A barrel connector can be used to extend it.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.