Section 1: Introduction to Networks
Networking involves connecting computers for the purpose of sharing information and resources. Today,
networks are everywhere. No longer are they a technical topic for IT professionals. We all use them daily.
In the workplace, almost all computers are networked to share data, printers, and an Internet connection.
At home, we attend class and shop on the Internet. The Internet is the largest network in the world and it
uses a network language called TCP/IP protocol that is used even in the simplest home network to share
a broadband connection (explained later).
Networks can be limited to a radius of 100 meters (Local Area Networks or LAN’s) or can span hundreds
of miles (Wide Area Networks or WAN’s). There are many possible choices for network design,
connections and related software. This reading covers a lot of material, but the concepts that are covered
form the essence of the features of networking.
Workstations and Servers
A laptop or a desktop normally is a stand alone computer (with no Internet connection), which most of us
are used to. However, if connected to a network (even the Internet is a network), this computer becomes a
“workstation” or "host" or "client." If connected to a client-server network, it becomes a “client” of the
"server," since the server provides files and applications to the client.
While servers are typically configured a bit differently than a typical computer, most modern day
computers are capable of being servers. It depends on the operating system that is loaded onto server.
The Operating system is mandatory software each machine needs to allow the user to interact with its
hardware components, such as the monitor, hard disk drives, sound card, etcetera.
If a computer has Windows 2003 Server loaded on the computer, for example, the computer can be
classified as a server. If the computer serves as a “domain controller” that is administers or “controls” a
group of client machines on a network, it becomes the “server” in a “client-server” network. Server
software you can purchase and practice on at home is Windows 2003 Server, the trial version.
Server 2003 can be purchased on the Internet for about $700. Less expensive server software would be
Linux Server, also available over the Internet, at some websites for free. Linux is "open source" software,