Network Interface Cards

A network interface card (NIC) is a special kind of I/O device that does not have a corresponding device file. Essentially, a network card places outgoing data on a line going to remote computer systems and receives packets from those systems into kernel memory.

Starting with BSD, all Unix systems assign a different symbolic name to each network card included in the computer; for instance, the first Ethernet card gets the eth0 name. However, the name does not correspond to any device file and has no corresponding inode in the system directory tree.

Instead of using the filesystem, the system administrator has to set up a relationship between the device name and a network address. Therefore, as we shall see in the later section Section 18.2, BSD Unix introduced a new group of system calls, which has become the standard programming model for network devices.

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