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TCP/IP Overview TCP/IP is a network protocol, or language, that is used to communicate on the Internet.

The letters TCP stand for Transmission Control Protocol, and the letters IP stand for Internet Protocol. These two protocols work together to provide a reliable end-to-end connection for communication between two computers. The main focus of this overview will be on IP since that is the protocol that is configured on your computer. Configuring IP on your system consists of telling your computer the following items: the IP address, the subnet mask, the gateway, and the DNS (Domain Name Server). If your environment is utilizing DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol), you will only need to configure your DNS information. Each of these items is discussed below. IP Address Computers that are connected to any type of network, small or large, use network addresses to communicate among themselves. A network address has two parts -- the network number and the host number. The network number identifies the specific network (or wire, if you will) to which the computer (or host) is connected; the host number is the unique number of that specific host on that network. All networks operate in this fashion, and the Internet is no exception. In order for your computer to be able to communicate on the Internet, it must have a uniquely identifiable address (similar to your home mailing address) which must be different than everyone else's in the world. This is your IP address. The IP address is composed of 4 numbers separated by periods (referred to as dotted decimal notation). Each of these four numbers (or "octets" since each is actually an 8-bit binary number) serves a significant purpose; their specific purpose, however, depends upon the "class" of address, which is determined by the first octet. These classes are listed below. Class A - first octet is less than 127 (first bit is 0) Class B - first octet is between 128 and 191 (first two bits are 10) Class C - first octet is between 192 and 223 (first three bits are 110) Reserved - first octet is 0, 127, or greater than 223 The class designation (in combination with the subnet mask, which is described below) indicates which of the four octets are the network number and which are the host number. Class A - first octet is the network, last three octets are the host (e.g. N.H.H.H) Class B - first two octets are the network, last two octets are the host (e.g. N.N.H.H) Class C - first three octets are the network, last octet is the host (e.g. N.N.N.H) Reserved - network or host numbers with all bits set to 0 or 1 Subnet Mask A subnet mask is actually what determines the network and host portion of the address. It is also a dotted decimal number with 4 octets just like an IP address but it plays no part in the actual address of the host itself. Instead, it tells the networking software where to look in an IP address to get the network and host number. It does this by "masking" the network portion of the octets with 1's and the host portion with 0's. There is a default subnet mask for each of the three network classes, and they are listed below. Class A - (first octet is network, last three are host) Class B - (first two octets are network, last two are host) Class C - (first three octets are network, last one is host) These subnet masks can be changed to further customize the networking environment in a specific location. One rule to keep in mind is that you cannot remove bits from a default mask for any given class. For example, a valid subnet mask for a Class A network might be, but a Class C network could not have this mask. Another rule is that the 1's must be added only from most significant to least significant (i.e., from left to right). Gateway The gateway on an IP network is basically the host system that is used to "gate" your network requests to remote networks. Often this will be the IP address of the router in your location. Some environments may

actually use your IP address as the gateway address. The important thing to remember is that this IP address must be provided to you by your service provider. They will know the proper configuration for your network. DHCP Dynamic Host Control Protocol is used in networking environments where one central device maintains the entire IP numbering scheme for the network on which it is located. In such environments, each host on the network initiates a request for IP address on boot-up. The DHCP server will accept the request, determine a valid IP address, and send that information back so the local software on the host computer can "configure itself" with that information. In this manner, you will not have to configure any of that information into your computer. DNS DNS stands for Domain Name Server. Its purpose is to resolve domain names into IP addresses so that the information can be directed to the appropriate place. A domain name is the name of the host to which you want to connect. In Internet communication, a domain name might be "". When you key this in (or click on a link) a DNS resolves this domain name into the corresponding IP address before the information can be delivered.