Chapter 1. What’s a Network?

For our purposes a network can simply be defined as a series of devices interconnected over a communication path. Within this definition devices usually means computers, and the communication path can be wires or airwaves.

Before we dive into connecting computers together, we thought we would spend at least one chapter discussing some basic computer “stuff” and covering some of the terms you are likely to encounter after you start purchasing networking gear or talking to others about it. This chapter briefly reviews PC hardware and discusses network interface cards, which are commonly called NICs. If you are sure that your PC already has a NIC and feel comfortable with your PC or laptop and what each part does, feel ...

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