System Administration Guide: IP Services

Chapter 3 Planning Your TCP/IP Network (Task)

This chapter describes the issues you must resolve in order to create your network in an organized, cost-effective manner. After you resolve these issues, you can devise a plan for your network to follow as you configure and administer your network in the future.

This chapter contains the following information:

Designing the Network

When you design your network, you must decide what type of network best meets the needs of your organization. Some of the planning decisions you make involve the following network hardware:

Based on these factors, you can determine the size of your local area network.

Note –

How you plan the network hardware is outside the scope of this manual. For assistance, refer to the manuals that come with your hardware.

Network Planning Tasks

After you complete your hardware plan, you are ready to begin network planning, from the software perspective.

As part of the planning process, you must do the following:

  1. Obtain a network number and, if applicable, register your network domain with the InterNIC.

  2. Devise an IP addressing scheme for your hosts, after you receive your IP network number.

  3. Create a list that contains the IP addresses and host names of all machines on your network. Use the list to build network databases.

  4. Determine which name service to use on your network: NIS, NIS+, DNS, or the network databases in the local /etc directory.

  5. Establish administrative subdivisions, if appropriate for your network.

  6. Determine if your network is large enough to require routers, and, if appropriate, create a network topology that supports them.

  7. Set up subnets, if appropriate, for your network.

The remainder of this chapter explains how to plan your network.

Setting Up an IP Address Scheme

The number of machines that you expect to support affects how you configure your network. Your organization might require a small network of several dozen standalone machines that are located on one floor of a single building. Alternatively, you might need to set up a network with more than 1000 hosts in several buildings. This arrangement can require you to further divide your network into subdivisions that are called subnets. The size of your prospective network affects the following factors:

Administering Network Numbers

If your organization has been assigned more than one network number, or uses subnets, appoint a centralized authority within your organization to assign network numbers. That authority should maintain control of a pool of assigned network numbers, and assign network, subnet, and host numbers as required. To prevent problems, ensure that duplicate or random network numbers do not exist in your organization. If you are planning to transition to IPv6, see Chapter 17, Transitioning From IPv4 to IPv6 (Reference).

Designing Your IPv4 Addressing Scheme

After you receive your network number, you can then plan how to assign the host parts of the IPv4 address.

The following table shows the division of the IPv4 address space into network and host address spaces. For each class, “Range” specifies the range of decimal values for the first byte of the network number. “Network Address” indicates the number of bytes of the IPv4 address that are dedicated to the network part of the address. Each byte is represented by xxx. “Host Address” indicates the number of bytes that are dedicated to the host part of the address. For example, in a class A network address, the first byte is dedicated to the network, and the last three bytes are dedicated to the host. The opposite designation is true for a class C network.

Table 3–1 Division of IPv4 Address Space



Network Address  

Host Address 









The numbers in the first byte of the IPv4 address define whether the network is class A, B, or C. InterNIC assigns the numbers. The remaining three bytes have a range from 0–255. The numbers 0 and 255 are reserved. You can assign the numbers 1–254 to each byte, depending on the network number that is assigned to you.

The following table shows which bytes of the IPv4 address are assigned to you. The following table also shows the range of numbers within each byte that are available for you to assign to your hosts.

Table 3–2 Range of Available Numbers

Network Class 

Byte 1 Range 

Byte 2 Range 

Byte 3 Range  

Byte 4 Range 








Preassigned by Internet 





Preassigned by Internet 

Preassigned by Internet 


How IP Addresses Apply to Network Interfaces

In order to connect to the network, a computer must have at least one network interface. Each network interface must have its own unique IP address. The IP address that you give to a host is assigned to its network interface, sometimes referred to as the primary network interface. If you add a second network interface to a machine, the machine must have its own unique IP number. When you add a second network interface, the machine changes to a router. See Configuring Routers for an explanation. If you add a second network interface to a host and you disable routing, the host is then considered a multihomed host.

Each network interface has a device name, device driver, and an associated device file in the /devices directory. The network interface might have a device name, such as le0 or smc0, device names for two commonly used Ethernet interfaces.

Note –

This book assumes that your machines have Ethernet network interfaces. If you plan to use different network media, refer to the manuals that come with the network interface for configuration information.

Naming Entities on Your Network

After you receive your assigned network number and you have given the IP addresses to your hosts, the next task is to assign names to the hosts. Then you must determine how to handle name services on your network. You use these names initially when you set up your network and later when you expand your network through routers or PPP.

The TCP/IP protocols locate a machine on a network by using its IP address. However, if you use a recognizable name, then you can identify the machine easily. Therefore, the TCP/IP protocols (and the Solaris operating environment) require both the IP address and the host name to uniquely identify a machine.

From a TCP/IP perspective, a network is a set of named entities. A host is an entity with a name. A router is an entity with a name. The network is an entity with a name. A group or department in which the network is installed can also be given a name, as can a division, a region, or a company. In theory, the hierarchy of names that can be used to identify a network has virtually no limit. The name identifies a domain.

Administering Host Names

Many sites let users pick host names for their machines. Servers also require at least one host name, which is associated with the IP address of its primary network interface.

As network administrator, you must ensure that each host name in your domain is unique. In other words, no two machines on your network can both have the name “fred.” However, the machine “fred” might have multiple IP addresses.

When planning your network, make a list of IP addresses and their associated host names for easy access during the setup process. The list can help you verify that all host names are unique.

Selecting a Name Service

The Solaris operating environment gives you the option of using four types of name services: local files, NIS, NIS+, and DNS. Name services maintain critical information about the machines on a network, such as the host names, IP addresses, Ethernet addresses, and so forth. The Solaris operating environment also gives you the option of using the LDAP directory service.

Network Databases

When you install the operating system, you supply the host name and IP address of your server, clients, or standalone system as part of the procedure. The Solaris installation program enters this information into the hosts and ipnodes network databases. These databases are part of a set of network databases that contain information necessary for TCP/IP operation on your network. The name service that you select for your network reads these databases.

The configuration of the network databases is a critical. Therefore, you need to decide which name service to use as part of the network planning process. Moreover, the decision to use name services also affects whether you organize your network into an administrative domain. Network Databases and nsswitch.conf File has detailed information on the set of network databases.

Using NIS, NIS+, or DNS for Name Service

The NIS, NIS+, or DNS name services maintain network databases on several servers on the network. System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (DNS, NIS, and LDAP) and System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (FNS and NIS+) describe these name services. These guides also explain how to configure the databases. In addition, the guides explain the “namespace” and “administrative domain” concepts in detail.

Using Local Files for Name Service

If you do not implement NIS, NIS+, or DNS, the network uses local files to provide name service. The term “local files” refers to the series of files in the /etc directory that the network databases use. The procedures in this book assume you are using local files for your name service, unless otherwise indicated.

Note –

If you decide to use local files as the name service for your network, you can set up another name service at a later date.

Domain Names

Many networks organize their hosts and routers into a hierarchy of administrative domains. If you are using NIS, NIS+, or the DNS name services, you must select a domain name for your organization that is unique worldwide. To ensure that your domain name is unique, you should register the domain name with the InterNIC. If you plan to use DNS, you should register your domain name with the InterNIC.

The domain name structure is hierarchical. A new domain typically is located below an existing, related domain. For example, the domain name for a subsidiary company can be located below the domain of the parent company. If the domain name has no other relationship, an organization can place its domain name directly under one of the existing top-level domains.

The following examples show top-level domains:

The name that identifies your organization is one that you select, with the provision that the name is unique.

Administrative Subdivisions

The question of administrative subdivisions deals with matters of size and control. The more hosts and servers that you have in a network, the more complex your management task. You might want to handle such situations by setting up additional administrative divisions. Add networks of a particular class. Divide existing networks into subnets. The decision about setting up administrative subdivisions for your network is determined by the following factors:

Registering Your Network

Before you assign IP addresses to the machines on your Solaris network, you must obtain a network number from the InterNIC. Moreover, if you are using administrative domains, you should register them with the InterNIC.

InterNIC and InterNIC Registration Services

The InterNIC was created in 1993 to act as a central body for Internet information, such as:

The InterNIC also includes the InterNIC Registration Services, the organization with which you register your TCP/IP network. The InterNIC Registration Services provide templates for obtaining a network number and for registering your domain. When you register, remember the following points:

How to Contact the InterNIC

You can reach the InterNIC Registration Services by the following forms of communication:

Adding Routers

Recall that in TCP/IP, two types of entities exist on a network: hosts and routers. All networks must have hosts, while not all networks require routers. The physical topology of the network determines if you need routers. This section introduces the concepts of network topology and routing, important when you decide to add another network to your existing network environment.

Network Topology

Network topology describes how networks fit together. Routers are the entities that connect networks to each other. From a TCP/IP perspective, a router is any machine that has two or more network interfaces. However, the machine cannot function as a router until properly configured, as described in Configuring Routers.

Routers connect two or more networks to form larger internetworks. The routers must be configured to pass packets between two adjacent networks. The routers also should be able to pass packets to networks that lie beyond the adjacent networks.

The following figure shows the basic parts of a network topology. The first illustration shows a simple configuration of two networks that are connected by a single router. The second illustration shows a configuration of three networks, interconnected by two routers. In the first example, router R joins network 1 and network 2 into a larger internetwork. In the second example, router R1 connects networks 1 and 2. Router R2 connects networks 2 and 3. The connections form a network that includes networks 1, 2, and 3.

Figure 3–1 Basic Network Topology

Diagram shows the topology of two networks that are connected by a single router.

Routers join networks into internetworks. Routers also route packets between networks that are based on the addresses of the destination network. As internetworks grow more complex, each router must make more and more decisions about the packet destinations.

The following figure shows a more complex case. Router R3 directly connects networks 1 and 3. The redundancy improves reliability. If network 2 goes down, router R3 still provides a route between networks 1 and 3. You can interconnect many networks. However, the networks must use the same network protocols.

Figure 3–2 Providing an Additional Path Between Networks

Diagram shows the topology of three networks that are connected by two routers.

How Routers Transfer Packets

The IP address of the recipient, a part of the packet header, determines how the packet is routed. If this address includes the network number of the local network, the packet goes directly to the host with that IP address. If the network number is not the local network, the packet goes to the router on the local network.

Routers maintain routing information in routing tables. These tables contain the IP address of the hosts and routers on the networks to which the router is connected. The tables also contain pointers to these networks. When a router receives a packet, the router consults its routing table to see if the table lists the destination address in the header. If the table does not contain the destination address, the router forwards the packet to another router that is listed in its routing table. Refer to Configuring Routers for detailed information on routers.

The following figure shows a network topology with three networks that are connected by two routers.

Figure 3–3 Three Interconnected Networks

Diagram shows a sample of three networks that are connected by two routers.

Router R1 connects networks 192.9.200 and 192.9.201. Router R2 connects networks 192.9.201 and 192.9.202. If host A on network 192.9.200 sends a message to host B on network 192.9.202, the following events occur:

  1. Host A sends a packet out over network 192.9.200. The packet header contains the IPv4 address of the recipient host B,

  2. None of the machines on network 192.9.200 has the IPv4 address Therefore, router R1 accepts the packet.

  3. Router R1 examines its routing tables. No machine on network 192.9.201 has the address However, the routing tables do list router R2.

  4. R1 then selects R2 as the “next hop” router. R1 sends the packet to R2.

  5. Because R2 connects network 192.9.201 to 192.9.202, R2 has routing information for host B. Router R2 then forwards the packet to network 192.9.202, where host B accepts the packet.