Scope of The TCP/IP Guide
The first step to dealing with a
problem is recognizing that you have one. So, I have to come clean with
you, my reader. I have a problem: an addiction to
Every time I set out to write about a particular protocol, technology
or concept, I start with a modest goal regarding how much I want to
write. I always begin knowing that I really need to control myself,
to prevent my project from going on forever. But as I explore each subject,
I learn more and more, and I start to say to myself things like
is important, I simply must include coverage for it
if I am going to cover subject #1, I also should cover
subject #2, because they are related. This is how
I turned a six-month project into a multi-year ordeal.
However, even though self-control
in this area is a weakness for me, even I realized I could
not possibly cover everything related to TCP/IP in this
Guide. Consider that the TCP/IP suite contains dozens of protocols and
technologies that have each had thick books written about them. I was
willing to spend years on this project but not decades. J
Thus, I had to limit the scope of this Guide somewhat, both to preserve
what remains of my sanity and to spare you from having to wade through
a ridiculously large document.
Here are a few different points that
will help explain decisions that I made to limit the scope of The TCP/IP
- Theory versus Practice: This is primarily
a reference resource on the TCP/IP protocol suite. The material
here is designed to allow a student to learn the nuts and bolts of how
TCP/IP works. I do discuss quite a number of real-world
practical issues related to how TCP/IP internetworks operate, but this
is not my primary focus here. If you want to really understand what
TCP/IP is and what makes it work, youve come to the right place.
If all you want is simple instructions on how to connect a few PCs together
in your home using TCP/IP, this probably isnt the Guide for you.
- Current versus Future Protocols: Most
of the emphasis in this Guide is on the present state of the art in
TCP/IP. The suite is always changing, and there are constantly new protocols
being written and revisions to existing protocols being published. I
have not provided extensive coverage of technologies still in development,
to try to keep the size of the Guide manageable, and to reduce the number
of changes I will have to make to keep the material up-to-date.
The one exception to this general rule of thumb is version 6 of the
Internet Protocol. IPv6 represents a significant change to the core
of how most of TCP/IP operates. While not universally deployed yet,
IPv6 is sufficiently far along in its development that I feel any student
of TCP/IP needs to know what it is and how it works, and understand
its significance. Thus, I have included a detailed
section describing it, and also mentioned
how it impacts the operation of several other key protocols such as
- Application Coverage: There are many thousands
of different applications that run on TCP/IP internetworks, and I could
not possibly hope to describe all of them. The scope of this Guide is
limited to the most important, classical
TCP/IP applications and application protocols,
such as electronic mail, general file transfer and the World Wide Web.
- TCP/IP versus The Internet: The TCP/IP
protocol suite and the Internet are very closely related in many ways,
as you will discover as you read this Guide. In fact, they are often
tied together so much that it is hard to discuss one without the other.
However, the Internet as a whole is an enormous subject, and trying
to describe it in general terms would have substantially increased the
size of this Guide. Thus, I describe Internet issues only within the
context of explanations of TCP/IP technologies.
For example, while I cover the World
Wide Web in this Guide, I discuss its
generalities only briefly. I focus my technical discussions on how the
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that implements
it works. I dont talk all about how to set up a Web site, or how
to choose a Web browser, or any of those sorts of details. These are
covered in a dazzling array of different books, papers and of course,
Web sites. J
- Limited TCP/IP Security Coverage: Security
is a very important and very large topic, especially in modern networking.
This Guide does include a fairly detailed section on the operation of
Security protocols (IPSec), and also touches
upon security issues in describing several other protocols and technologies.
However, it is not specifically geared towards detailed discussions
of security considerations. It is possible that in the future I will
add more security-related information, but for now, if your primary
interest is TCP/IP security matters, you will want to supplement this
Guide with other materials.
- Small Computer Orientation: In general
terms, TCP/IP technologies can be used to connect together any types
of devices that have the appropriate hardware and software. There are
some issues, however, where explanations require me to focus on how
specific types of underlying networks and devices work; this is especially
true of some of my diagrams. In these cases, my preference has generally
been to show how TCP/IP is used to connect together typical small computers
such as PCs, Macintoshes and UNIX workstations, which are what most
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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