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Network terminology


I'm looking for a resource that will help me to consolidate my knowledge of network adapters and interfaces and am hoping someone can recommend one.

My current knowledge of networks is preliminary and I feel like I need to improve it to benefit from this unit properly.

I understand the differences between the physical and logical network so I guess that covers network topology. Although my understanding of devices in the physical network can definitely be improved. For instance what's the difference between a hub, switch and bridge. Or is bridge only a logical construct that is used to set the 'mode' of an interface?

I think what I need most help understanding is logical configuration. The 'why', more than the 'how'.

When I see the terms adapter and interface I'm never quite sure if they're being used interchangeably or if they're different.

My current understanding is:
adapter: the physical device identified using a MAC address
interface: a logical device configured by the system the adapter is connected to

Is it correct to say that an adapter can have multiple interfaces?

As you can tell I have a lot of questions because I'm yet to understand networking completely. Any guidance is greatly appreciated.


  • lee42x
    lee42x Posts: 380

    I'm not sure we have a hard definition but you are correct, adapter usually refers to the hardware adapter and interface is a virtual adapter.

    Bridges can be real devices, in past decades I have installed many of them, but nowadays bridges are pretty much all software devices.
    A bridge extends or joins networks, a hub is a one-2-many shared connection and a switch is a one-2-many non-shared connection. All of these work at the lowest levels of the network stack.


  • GRO 108
    GRO 108 Posts: 46

    Thanks @lee42x that definitely helps me to understand the structure better.

    I've been using this resource to fill in some gaps. I find it's a really well structured document.



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