You need to edit the netmasks database as part of network configuration only if you have set up subnetting on your network. The netmasks database consists of a list of networks and their associated subnet masks.
When you create subnets, each new network must be a separate physical network. You cannot apply subnetting to a single physical network.
Subnetting is a method for getting the most out of the limited 32-bit IP addressing space and reducing the size of the routing tables in a large internetwork. With any address class, subnetting provides a means of allocating a part of the host address space to network addresses, which lets you have more networks. The part of the host address space allocated to new network addresses is known as the subnet number.
In addition to making more efficient use of the IP address space, subnetting has several administrative benefits. Routing can become very complicated as the number of networks grows. A small organization, for example, might give each local network a class C number. As the organization grows, administering a number of different network numbers could become complicated. A better idea is to allocate a few class B network numbers to each major division in an organization. For instance, you could allocate one to Engineering, one to Operations, and so on. Then, you could divide each class B network into additional networks, using the additional network numbers gained by subnetting. This can also reduce the amount of routing information that must be communicated among routers.
As part of the subnetting process, you need to select a network-wide netmask. The netmask determines how many and which bits in the host address space represent the subnet number and how many and which represent the host number. Recall that the complete IP address consists of 32 bits. Depending on the address class, as many as 24 bits and as few as 8 bits can be available for representing the host address space. The netmask is specified in the netmasks database.
If you plan to use subnets, you must determine your netmask before you configure TCP/IP. You then need to carry out the procedures in "How to Add a Subnet to a Network". If you plan to install the operating system as part of network configuration, the Solaris installation program requests the netmask for your network.
As described in "Parts of the IP Address", 32-bit IP addresses consist of a network part and a host part. The 32 bits are divided into 4 bytes. Each byte is assigned either to the network number or the host number, depending on the network class.
For example, in a class B IP address, the 2 left-hand bytes are assigned to the network number, and the 2 right-hand bytes are assigned to the host number. In the class B IP address 18.104.22.168, you can assign the 2 right-hand bytes to hosts.
If you are going to implement subnetting, you need to use some of the bits in the bytes assigned to the host number to apply to subnet addresses. For example, a 16-bit host address space provides addressing for 65,534 hosts. If you apply the third byte to subnet addresses and the fourth to host addresses, you can address up to 254 networks, with up to 254 hosts on each.
The bits in the host address bytes that will be applied to subnet addresses and those applied to host addresses is determined by a subnet mask. Subnet masks are used to select bits from either byte for use as subnet addresses. Although netmask bits must be contiguous, they need not align on byte boundaries.
It is easiest to explain netmasks in terms of their binary representation. You can use a calculator for binary-to-decimal conversion. The following examples show both the decimal and binary forms of the netmask.
If a netmask 255.255.255.0 is applied to the IP address 22.214.171.124, the result is the IP address of 126.96.36.199.
188.8.131.52 & 255.255.255.0 = 184.108.40.206
In binary form, the operation is:
10000001.10010000.00101001.01100101 (IP address)
Now the system looks for a network number of 129.144.41 instead of a network number of 129.144. If you have a network with the number 129.144.41, that is what the system looks for and finds. Since you can assign up to 254 values to the third byte of the IP address space, subnetting lets you create address space for 254 networks, where previously there was room for only one.
If you want to provide address space for only two additional networks, you could use a subnet mask of:
This netmask provides a result of:
If your network runs NIS or NIS+, the servers for these name services maintain netmasks databases. For networks that use local files for name service, this information is maintained in the /etc/inet/netmasks file.
For compatibility with BSD-based operating systems, the file /etc/netmasks is a symbolic link to /etc/inet/netmasks.
Example 4-4 shows the /etc/inet/netmasks file for a class B network.
## The netmasks file associates Internet Protocol (IP) address # masks with IP network numbers. # # network-number netmask # # Both the network-number and the netmasks are specified in # "decimal dot" notation, e.g: # # 220.127.116.11 255.255.255.0 18.104.22.168 255.255.255.0
If the file does not exist, create it. Use the following syntax:
Refer to the netmasks(4) man page for complete details.
When creating netmask numbers, type the network number assigned by the InterNIC (not the subnet number) and netmask number in /etc/inet/netmasks. Each subnet mask should be on a separate line.