Chapter 2. Creating a Wired Network the Ethernet Way

It may sound like some sort of anesthesia, but Ethernet is the most popular networking technology in the world today. Linking computers together with colorful cables is not a brand-new technology, either. Ethernet was invented back in the early 1970s in that happy bell-bottomed era of macramé vests and early Elton John. Created by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, Ethernet offered a way to let everyone in the building use the first laser printer ever invented—which Xerox PARC also happened to have. (Some things never change: people on computer networks have been trying to make do with one shared printer ever since.) But over the decades, Ethernet has gotten faster, sturdier, and more powerful and remains an excellent choice for a network.


Unless your house is pre-wired for Ethernet, with conveniently placed network jacks in each room, you probably won’t want to use Ethernet to string together PCs spread across the far corners of your home. Wiring the innards of a whole house is a bit more than most people are willing to undertake, and stringing Ethernet cable down hallways can get old quickly. Therefore, the examples in this chapter assume that your computers are fairly close to one another—for example, clustered in a home office, or in neighboring rooms within reach of a 30-foot cable.

In this chapter, you’ll learn about the hardware that makes Ethernet zoom, and you’ll get step-by-step instructions for setting ...

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