Networking / Beginners

Implementation Ideas for Megabit Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet

100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T are used in network peripherals such as printers and file servers. Almost all these devices have a 100BASE-T port, and many of them now support a gigabit port. Gigabit Ethernet will be as common as Megabit Ethernet.

Here's a recipe for the ingredients necessary for a 100BASE-T or 1000BASE-T network:

  • Two or more computers. Almost all computers can use some form of Ethernet, from laptops to desktop PCs to UNIX systems and Macs.
  • One Ethernet network card per computer.
  • One hub/bridge/router with enough ports to connect all your computers, or the use of Wi-Fi if machines are confined to a local area.
  • Enough patch cords to connect each network card's RJ-45 socket to the router's RJ-45 socket. A patch cord is an eight-conductor cord (meaning four pairs of wires) with an RJ-45 jack at both ends. (It looks like a really fat phone cord.) Patch cords are available at computer stores for a couple dollars per cable.

100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T are star topologies, which mean that everything has to connect to a concentrator-or, more correctly, a hub, bridge, or router.

Using Small Network Hubs or Bridges for Small Networks

Be aware that many small Ethernet hubs and bridges (small in terms of the number of ports they provide) have a special port designed specifically to connect a hub to other hubs (or stack them, in the parlance). If you connect a computer to this port (usually port 1), that computer won't be capable of using the network because the hub doesn't use the stacking port like the rest of the ports. The problem is that stacking ports usually don't look different from regular ports. So read the documentation on your hub to find out whether it has a port dedicated to stacking, and save yourself some frustration.

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