Networking is the practice of sending data from one computer to another computer. For a simple connection to the Internet, you need to do the following:
Connect a network interface on your machine to a network
Define a gateway to the rest of the Internet
Show your machine how to resolve hostnames
Unfortunately, there are so many different kinds of networks that there is no one simple formula to get your system talking to the rest of the world. For Ethernet connections with a static (fixed) IP address, a separate command or file performs each of the preceding steps. However, DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) configurations and PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) connections use different configuration schemes. This chapter begins with setting up static Ethernet interfaces because they are easy to understand, and then it moves on to DHCP and PPP, including DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) connections.
After you know how to connect your machine to a network, you're ready to move on to more advanced topics, such as building your own networks and configuring firewalls, described later in this chapter.