This glossary is only a tiny subset of all of the various terms and other
things that people regularly use on The Net. For a more complete (and very
entertaining) reference, it's suggested you get a copy of The New Hacker's
Dictionary, whichis based on a VERY large text file called theJargon File.
Edited by Eric Raymond (firstname.lastname@example.org), it is available from
the MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142; its ISBN number is 0-
262-68069-6. Also see RFC-1208, A Glossary of Networking Terms.
:-) This odd symbol is one of the ways a person can portray "mood"
in the very flat medium of computers_by using "smilies." This is `meta-
communication', andthere are literally hundreds of them, from the obvious
to the obscure. This particular exampleexpresses "happiness." Don't see
it? Tilt your head to the left 90degrees. Smilies are also used to denote
address resolution Conversion of an Internet address to the correspond-
ing physical address. On an ethernet, resolution requires broadcasting on
the local area network.
administrivia Administrative tasks, most often related to the mainte-
nance of mailing lists, digests, news gateways, etc.
anonymous FTP Also known as "anon FTP"; a service provided to make
files available to the general Internet community_see Section 3.2.2 [Anony-
mous FTP], page 21.
ANSI The American National Standards Institute disseminates basic
standards like ASCII, and acts as the United States' delegate to the ISO.
Standards can be ordered from ANSI by writing to the ANSI Sales De-
partment, 1430 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, or by telephoning (212)
archie A service which provides lookups for packages in a database of
the offerings of countless of anonymous FTP sites. See Section 3.3.1 [archie],
page 25 for a full description.
archive server An email-based file transfer facility offered by some sys-
ARPA (AdvancedResearch Projects Agency) Former name of DARPA,
the government agency that funded ARPAnet and later the DARPAInter-
84 Zen and the Art of the Internet
ARPAnet A pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It served
as the basis for early networking research as well as a central backbone dur-
ing the development of the Internet. The ARPAnet consisted of individual
packet switching computers interconnected by leased lines. The ARPAnet
no longer exists as a singular entity.
asynchronous Transmission byindividual bytes, not related to specific
timing on the transmitting end.
auto-magic Something which happens pseudo-automatically, and is usu-
ally too complex to go into any further than to say it happens "au*
backbone A high-speed connection within a network that connects
shorter, usually slower circuits. Also used in reference to a system that acts
as a "hub" for activity (although those are becoming much less prevalent
now than they were ten years ago).
bandwidth The capacity of a medium to transmit a signal. More infor-
mally, the mythical"size" of The Net, and its ability to carry the files and
messages of those that use it. Some view certain kinds of traffic (FTPing
hundreds of graphics images, forexample) as a "waste of bandwidth" and
look down upon them.
BITNET (Because It's Time Network) An NJE-based international ed-
bounce The return of a piece of mailb ecause of an error in its delivery.
btw An abbreviation for "by the way."
CFV (Call For Votes) Initiates the voting period for a Usenet newsgroup.
At least one (occasionally twoor more) email address is customarily included
as a repository for the votes. See See Appendix C [Newsgroup Creation],
page 79 for a full description of the Usenet voting process.
ClariNews Thefee-based Usenet newsfeed available from ClariNet Com-
client The user of a network service;also used to describe a computer
that relies upon another for some or all of its resources.
Cyberspace A term coined by William Gibson in his fantasy novel Neu-
romancer to describe the "world" of computers, and the society that gathers
datagram The basic unit of information passed acrossthe Internet. It
contains a source and destination address along with data. Large messages
are broken down into a sequence of IP datagrams.
disassembling Converting a binary program into human-readable ma-
chine language code.
DNS (Domain Name System) The metho d used to convert Internet
names to their corresponding Internet numbers.
domain A part of the naming hierarchy. Syntactically, a domain name
consists of a sequence of names or otherwords separated by dots.
dotted quad Aset of four numbers connected with periods that make up
an Internet address; for example, 184.108.40.206.
email The vernacular abbreviation for electronic mail.
email address The UUCP or domain-based address that auser is referred
to with. For example, the author's address is email@example.com.
ethernet A 10-million bit per second networking scheme originally devel-
oped by Xerox Corporation. Ethernet is widely used for LANs because it can
network a wide variety of computers, it is not proprietary, and components
are widely available frommany commercial sources.
FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) An emerging standard fornet-
work technology based on fiber optics that has been established by ANSI.
FDDI specifies a 100-million bit per second data rate. The access control
mechanism uses token ring technology.
flame A piece of mail or a Usenet posting which is violently argumenta-
FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) The FQDN isthe full site name
of a system, rather than just its hostname. For example,the system lisa
at Widener University has a FQDN of lisa.cs.widener.edu.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) The Internet standard high-level protocol
for transferring files from one computerto another.
FYI An abbreviation for the phrase "for your information." There is also
a series of RFCs put out by the Network Information Center called FYIs;
they address common questions of new users and many other useful things.
See [RFCs], page 73 for instructions on retrieving FYIs.
gateway A special-purpose dedicated computer that attaches to two or
more networks and routes packets from one network to the other. In par-
ticular, an Internet gateway routes IP datagrams among the networks it
connects. Gateways route packets to other gateways until they can be de-
livered to the final destination directly across one physical network.
header The portion of a packet, preceding the actual data, containing
source and destination addresses and error-checking fields. Also part of a
message or news article.
hostname The name given toa machine. (See also FQDN.)
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) This usually accompanies a statement
86 Zen and the Art of the Internet
that may bring about personal offense or strong disagreement.
Internet A concatenation of many individual TCP/IP campus, state,
regional, and national networks (such as NSFnet, ARPAnet, and Milnet)
into one single logical network all sharing a common addressing scheme.
Internet number The dotted-quad address used to specify a certain sys-
tem. The Internet number for thesite cs.widener.edu is 220.127.116.11.
A resolver is used to translate between hostnames and Internet addresses.
interoperate The ability of multi-vendor computers to work together
using a common set of protocols. With interoperability, PCs, Macs, Suns,
Dec VAXen, CDCCybers, etc, all work together allowing one host computer
to communicate with and take advantage of the resources of another.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Coordinator of the
main networking standards thatare put into use today.
kernel The level ofan operating system or networking system that con-
tains the system-level commands orall of the functions hidden from the user.
In a Unix system, the kernel is a program that contains the device drivers,
the memory management routines, the scheduler, andsystem calls. This
program is always running while the system is operating.
LAN (Local Area Network) Any physical network technology that op-
erates at high speed over short distances (up to a few thousand meters).
mail gateway A machine that connectsto two or more electronic mail
systems (especially dissimilar mail systems ontwo different networks) and
transfers mail messages among them.
mailing list A possibly moderated discussion group,distributed via email
from a central computer maintaining the list of people involved in the dis-
mail path Aseries of machine names used to direct electronic mail from
one user to another.
medium The material used to support the transmission of data. This
can be copper wire, coaxial cable, optical fiber, or electromagnetic wave (as
multiplex The division of a single transmission medium into multiple
logical channels supporting many simultaneous sessions. For example, one
network may have simultaneous FTP, telnet, rlogin, and SMTPconnections,
all going at the same time.
net.citizen An inhabitant of Cyberspace. One usually tries to be a good
net.citizen, lest one be flamed.
netiquette A pun on "etiquette"; proper behavior on TheNet. See
Section 4.13 [Usenet Netiquette], page 37.
network A group of machines connected together so they can transmit
information to one another. There are two kinds of networks: local networks
and remote networks.
NFS (Network File System) A method developed by Sun Microsystems
to allow computers to share files across a network in a way that makes them
appear as if they're "local" to the system.
NIC The Network Information Center.
node A computer that is attachedto a network; also called a host.
NSFnet Thenational backbone network, funded by theNational Science
Foundation and operated by the Merit Corporation, used to interconnect
regional (mid-level) networks such as WestNet to one another.
packet The unit of data sent across a packet switching network. The term
is used loosely. While some Internet literature uses it to refer specifically to
data sent across a physical network, other literature views the Internet as a
packet switching network and describes IP datagrams as packets.
polling Connecting to another system to check for things like mail or
postmaster The person responsible for taking care of mail problems,
answering queries about users, and otherrelated work at a site.
protocols A formal description of message formats and the rules two
computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe
low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (e.g., the order in which
bits and bytes are sent acrossa wire) or high-level exchanges between allo-
cation programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file across
recursion The facility of a programming language to be able to call
functions from within themselves.
resolve Translate an Internet name into its equivalent IP address or other
RFD (Request For Discussion) Usually a two- to three-week period in
which the particulars of newsgroupcreation are battled out.
route The path that network traffic takes from its source to its destina-
router A dedicated computer (or other device) that sends packets from
one place to another, paying attention to the current state of the network.
RTFM (Read The Fantastic Manual) . This anacronym is often used
when someone asks a simple or common question. The word `Fantastic' is
usually replaced with one muchmore vulgar.
88 Zen and the Art of the Internet
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The Internet standard proto-
col for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another.
SMTP specifies how two mail systemsinteract and the format of control
messages they exchange to transfermail.
server A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files,
with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Network File
System (NFS) server which shares its disk space with other computers.
signal-to-noise ratio When used in reference to Usenet activity,`signal-
to-noise ratio' describes the relation between amount of actual informa-
tion in a discussion, compared to theirquantity. More often than not, there's
substantial activity in a newsgroup, but a very small number of those articles
actually contain anything useful.
signature The small, usually four-line message at theb ottom of a piece of
email or a Usenet article. In Unix,it's added by creating a file `.signature'
in the user's home directory. Large signatures are a no-no.
summarize To encapsulate a number of responses into one coherent,
usable message. Often done on controlled mailing lists or active newsgroups,
to help reduce bandwidth.
synchronous Data communications in which transmissions are sent at a
fixed rate, with the sending and receiving devices synchronized.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Proto col) A set of
protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts, used by the Internet to support
services such as remote login (telnet), file transfer (FTP) and mail (SMTP).
telnet The Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection
service. Telnet allows a user at one site to interact with a remote timesharing
system at another site as if the user'sterminal were connected directly to
the remote computer.
terminal server A small, specialized, networked computer that connects
many terminals to a LANthrough one network connection. Any user on the
network can then connect to various network hosts.
TEX A free typesettingsystem by Donald Knuth.
twisted pair Cablemade up of a pair of insulated copper wires wrapped
around each other to cancel the effects of electrical noise.
UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Program) A store-and-forward system, pri-
marily for Unix systems but currently supported on other platforms (e.g.
VMS and personal computers).
WAN (Wide-AreaNetwork) A network spanning hundreds or thousands
workstation A networked personal computing device with more power
than a standard IBM PC or Macintosh. Typically, a workstation has an
operating system such as unix that is capable of running several tasks at the
same time. It has several megabytes of memory and a large, high-resolution
display. Examples are Sunworkstations and Digital DECstations.
worm A computer program which replicates itself. The Internet worm
(see Section 8.1 [The Internet Worm], page 63) was perhaps the most fa-
mous; it successfully (and accidentally) duplicated itself on systems across
wrt With respect to.
"I hate definitions."
Vivian Grey, bk i chapii
90 Zen and the Art of the Internet
Copyright (c) 1992 Brendan P. Kehoe
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