Nothing is more basic to network configuration than the interface the system uses to connect to the network. On most Linux servers, the network interface is an Ethernet card. Yet Linux systems are not limited to using Ethernet for network access. There are several types of network interfaces. One widely used network interface is the computer's serial port. Linux provides excellent support for serial-line communications, including a full range of tools to run TCP/IP over a serial line using Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP).
This chapter begins the discussion of configuring a Linux system as a network server by looking at how network interfaces are installed and configured. We begin with the Ethernet interface, which is the most popular TCP/IP network interface, and then go on to discuss how the serial interface is used for data communications. Finally, this chapter covers how PPP software is configured to turn the serial port into a TCP/IP network interface.
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