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Chapter 4. Networking > Basic Networking Terms

Basic Networking Terms

Before I explain how to use your Mac on a network, let me take a moment or two to introduce and define some of the networking terminology used throughout this chapter. You’ll find these words used again and again whenever you deal with networking features.


AppleTalk is the networking protocol used by Macintosh computers to communicate over a network. It’s the software that makes networking work. Fortunately, it’s not something extra you have to buy—it’s part of Mac OS X (and most previous versions of Mac OS).


  • TCP/IP is a networking protocol that is used for connecting to the Internet. Mac OS X computers can use both AppleTalk to communicate with local networks and TCP/IP to communicate with the Internet.


Rendezvous is a networking technology introduced by Apple with Mac OS X 10.2. It simplifies network setup by enabling your computer to automatically recognize other Rendezvous-compatible network devices. Rendezvous works over both Ethernet and AirPort. As I write this, several printer manufacturers, including Epson, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Lexmark, are making their new printers Rendezvous-compatible.


  • AirPort is covered later in this chapter.

  • Rendezvous can be used with iChat to initiate live chats with other Mac OS X 10.2 users on your network. iChat is covered in Mac OS X 10.2: Visual QuickStart Guide.


Ethernet is a network connection method that is built into all Mac OS X-compatible computers. It uses Ethernet cables that connect to the Ethernet ports or network interface cards of computers and network printers. Additional hardware such as transceivers and hubs may be needed, depending on the network setup and device.

Ethernet comes in three speeds: 10, 100, and 1000 megabits per second. The maximum speed of the computer’s communication with the rest of the network is limited by the maximum speed of the cable, hub, and other network devices.


  • Network hardware configuration details are far beyond the scope of this book. The information here is provided primarily to introduce some of the network terms you might encounter when working with your computer and other documentation.

  • LocalTalk is an older Mac OS-compatible network method. Slow and supported only by older Macintosh models with serial ports, it is rarely used in today’s networks and is not covered in this book.

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