IN THIS CHAPTER
Graphical tools for network configuration
Traditional network configuration files
Testing network interfaces
Tips for securing your network
Installing a firewall
Almost from the very beginning of home computing in the 1970s, personal computers have reached out to touch other types of computer systems. Long before ISPs, and before the Internet even existed, home computer fans used modems to access bulletin board systems, remote mainframe or minicomputers, and ancient content providers like Compuserve and AOL, using various terminal emulation programs to communicate with each other, transfer files, and so on. Early store-and-forward mechanisms such as the Unix-to-Unix Calling Program (UUCP) and FidoNet provided great ways of disseminating files and other information across slow networks of computer systems that were networks only in the sense that they knew each other's phone numbers.
The conversion of the ARPANET to the Internet and its resultant commercialization gave birth to the notion of ISPs—commercial Internet service providers—who provided a mechanism for home computers to directly access the Internet, albeit through kludgey point-to-point solutions that still depended on a modem and thus provided Internet surfing speeds that were only guaranteed (supposedly) to be greater than zero. Regardless, the advent of the ISP ended the concept of the PC as an asynchronous island, making it a real participant in the Internet, even ...