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Chapter 2. TCP/IP Protocol Concepts

Chapter 2. TCP/IP Protocol Concepts


Like Windows NT, Windows 2000 supports several popular LAN protocols, retaining support for the legacy NetBEUI protocol and for Microsoft's NWLink implementation of Novell's IPX/SPX protocol stack. But there is no question that with Windows 2000 TCP/IP has moved to the forefront. The ascendancy of TCP/IP makes perfect sense, given the trends of wide-area communication and of nearly universal connectivity to the Internet. NetBEUI was never intended to be a WAN protocol. IPX/SPX started out as a LAN protocol stack and despite improvements has never been the protocol of choice where WANs are concerned. But TCP/IP is first and foremost a WAN protocol stack, efficient and highly reliable, suitable for networks of any scale.

One thing that has endeared TCP/IP to network professionals is the open Internet standards process. All Internet protocol standards are public, as well as the debate that shapes them. Consequently, although isolated protocols such as Sun's Network File System are standardized by individual vendors, the TCP/IP protocol suite as a whole is incredibly open. This openness has in turn fueled the public discourse that has continually enhanced TCP/IP functionality over the past 30 years.

Although you can network Windows 2000 using NetBEUI or NWLink, if you really want to take advantage of everything Windows 2000 Server has to offer, you have to set up TCP/IP from the get go. Most of the features that make Windows 2000 Server such an improvement over its NT predecessor depend on Active Directory and Active Directory won't function without TCP/IP.


For coverage of NetBEUI and NWLink, see these other chapters:

If you already understand TCP/IP concepts, you will be able to skip much or all of this chapter and probably most of the next as well. You will want to examine the material in Chapter 3, "The Domain Name System," which covers the configuration of the Windows 2000 Server DNS service. If you have avoided working with TCP/IP until now, prepare to experience a bit of a learning curve. Some of the new concepts you will encounter, particularly subnet masking, can be a bit tricky. Just hang in there. Things will start to fall into place when you get some practice.


We'll be talking a lot about bits and binary numbers in this chapter, so at the risk of stating the obvious, I'll give you some definitions to be sure we are working with common terminology:

  • Bit. A binary digit. Always has a value of 1 or 0.

  • Octet. Always a group of eight contiguous bits. Used more often than byte when talking about networks.

  • Byte. Almost always a group of eight contiguous bits (with some exceptions on old system architectures).

  • All 0s. A sequence of bits that consists entirely of 0s.

  • All 1s. A sequence of bits that consists entirely of 1s.

  • High-order digits (or bits). Digits (or bits) starting with the left-most, highest-value digits in a number.

  • Low-order digits (or bits). Digits (or bits) starting with the right-most, lowest-value digits in a number.


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