Most Linux systems today will either automatically detect or allow you to set up your Internet connection when you install Linux. Here's the general (default) way that a network connection on a desktop system, with Linux installed, is started up:
1. Check whether you have an Ethernet port on your computer (most recent computers have one). If so, connect your Ethernet card to the equipment that gets you to the Internet (cable modem, DSL router/bridge, or network hub/switch). If not, you can purchase an Ethernet card at any retailer that sells computer hardware.
2. Ensure that appropriate drivers are available for the card and bring up the interface (typically, the first wired Ethernet card is assigned to the eth0 interface). Usually, simply starting the computer causes the card to be detected and the appropriate driver loaded.
3. Get an IP address using DHCP if a DHCP server is available through the interface. Most ISPs and businesses expect you to connect to their networks using DHCP, so they will have provided a DHCP server to the equipment where you connect your computer to the network.
As long as your desktop system is connected to a network that has a DHCP server willing to give it an IP address, you can be up and browsing the Web in no time.
If you find that the automatic method (DHCP) of connecting to your network doesn't work, then connecting to the Internet gets a bit trickier. Different Linux distributions offer different tools for manually configuring your Internet connection. The following sections describe a few graphical tools and some command-line and configuration-file approaches to configuring wired and wireless network connections.
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