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Linux Network Models and Protocols

This sample chapter covers the following topics to help you prepare for the Sun Certified Network Administrator for Solaris 8 Operating Environment exam: layered network models, the layers of the TCP/IP 5-layer model, network protocols, peer-to-peer communications, and TCP/IP protocols by name and function.
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Network Models and Protocols


1.1 Layered Network Models

1.2 The Layers of the TCP/IP 5-Layer Model

1.3 Network Protocols

1.4 Peer-to-Peer Communication

1.5 TCP/IP Protocols by Name and Function

After completing this chapter, you will be able to meet the following Network Administration Exam objectives:

  • Identify the purpose of each layer in the TCP/IP 5-layer model.

  • Describe the functionality of each of the following Network Protocols: TCP, UDP, IP, and ICMP.

  • Describe the relationship between the following Network Protocols: TCP, UDP, IP, and ICMP.

  • Describe peer-to-peer communication.

To help you meet these objectives, this chapter covers the following topics:

  • layered network models

  • the layers of the TCP/IP 5-layer model

  • network protocols

  • peer-to-peer communications

  • TCP/IP protocols by name and function

1.1 Layered Network Models

This chapter first introduces layered network models and then describes the services provided by each layer of the model. We then briefly describe, in the context of a protocol stack, the network protocols that provide the services to upper layer protocols or applications at each layer. You will learn about the features of the most important network protocols, TCP/UDP/IP and ICMP, and this information will serve as the foundation for later chapters that cover these protocols in greater detail. This gradual or phased introduction of the important network protocols will allow you to understand the basics of each protocol before we explore their more complex aspects.

Network protocols are modular by design and function at specific layers of a hierarchical protocol stack. Each layer in the hierarchy provides services to the layer above it and uses the services of the layer beneath it. There are instances in which nonadjacent layers communicate directly, but these are exceptions to the rule.

Through this hierarchy, each layer provides an abstraction to the layer just above it. This abstraction is desirable, as upper layers need not know how their data is routed across the Internet, or over which network their data will travel.

To understand how applications such as sendmail, telnet, and ftp interface with the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite of protocols, we must examine how the protocols communicate with each other and how they offer a service to applications. Each protocol was designed to offer a service to another protocol or application and will be explored in that context.

We can best view the protocols as an ordered stack of modules based on a set of hierarchical relationships. The hierarchy is of fundamental importance because it explains and exposes not only the relationships among the interacting protocols but also the properties of each protocol, revealing why a particular protocol is able meet the requirements of a particular application.

There are many protocol families and models. This book explores two models, which are covered by Sun course SA-389, Solaris Operating Environment TCP/IP Network Administration:

  • the OSI/ISO 7-layer reference model

  • the TCP/IP Sun/DoD 5-layer model

The two models are different in several respects, although both perform the same function, which essentially is to reveal the hierarchical, modular nature of network protocol design and operation. The network models also provide guidance for network protocol designers. Throughout this book, we will refer to the Open Systems Interconnection OSI/ISO 7-layer reference model simply as the OSI model and to the DoD TCP/IP Sun/DoD 5-layer model as the TCP/IP model.

The OSI/ISO 7-Layer Reference Model

The OSI/ISO 7-layer reference model was created in the early 1980s. Table 1.1 shows the seven layers of the model.

Table 1.1 Layers of the OSI Model

Layer (Number)


Application (7)

Applications and network services

Presentation (6)

The way data is presented

Session (5)

Manages connection terms of a session

Transport (4)

End-to-end messaging between applications

Network (3)

Data addressing and delivery between networks

Datalink (2)

Error detection and packet framing across a physical network

Physical (1)

Network hardware, electrical voltage and current

Note that:

  • The OSI model was developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

  • The layers of the OSI model are numbered from the base upward.

  • The Physical layer (1) is at the base and the Application layer (7) is at the top.

  • The OSI model is a generic networking model.

  • The OSI model was designed in the early 1980s and intended for multiple manufacturers and standards.

  • The OSI model was originally focused on open systems and interfacing multiple stacks.

  • Chronologically, the OSI model was created long after the TCP/IP family of protocols.

The model is to some degree an ideal, as it does not pertain to any specific protocol family, but rather provides a framework within which network protocol designers and hardware manufacturers may work as they strive to produce modular products.

We next outline the TCP/IP model and compare and contrast it with the OSI model.

The TCP/IP 5-Layer Model

The Department of Defense (DoD) TCP/IP 5-layer model was created in 1969. Table 1.2 shows the layers of this model and the service provided by each layer.

Table 1.2 Layers of the TCP/IP Model and Purpose of Each Layer

Layer (Number)


Application (5)

Reserved for applications and protocols

Transport (4)

Provides end-to-end delivery service for layer 5 applications and protocols

Internet (3)

Provides a network routing service to upper layers

Network (2)

Provides a framing service to the Internet layer

Physical (1)

Provides an electrical signal bit transmission service to the network

With this model, aimed specifically at TCP/IP conventions, we can identify the protocols at each layer, as shown in Table 1.3.

The most important points to note about the TCP/IP model are:

  • The TCP/IP protocols were developed and funded by the USA DoD for purposes of research and experimentation.

  • The TCP/IP model was conceived in 1969.

  • The TCP/IP model accommodates only the TCP/IP protocols.

  • The TCP/IP model has only five layers.

Table 1.3 Layers of the TCP/IP Model and Entities That Function at Each Layer

Layer (Number)

Network Component That Operates at This Layer

Application (5)

HTTP, FTP, telnet, SMTP, NTP, POP, IMAP, and others

Transport (4)


Internet (3)


Network (2)

Data Link: Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI, ATM, and others

Physical (1)

Coaxial, fiberoptic, twisted pair

Benefits of Using Network Models: A Summary

It is beneficial to consider the organization of any network model because the network model

  • reveals the hierarchical, modular nature of network protocol design and implementation.

  • enables us to think in terms of each protocol performing a given function or service at a specific layer.

  • visually reveals a host's protocol stack as implemented in the kernel.

  • reveals the order of the protocol stack.

The striking differences between the models are shown in Table 1.4.

Table 1.4 Differences Between the OSI 7-Layer and TCP/IP 5-Layer Models

OSI model

TCP/IP model

Devised 1983

Devised 1969

Created by ISO

Created by USA DoD

Multiple vendors/multiple protocols/ISO protocols

TCP/IP protocol family

Seven layers

Five layers

Generic networking model

TCP/IP-specific model


Key Learning Points

  • The OSI model is used as a frame of reference when describing protocol architectures and functional characteristics.

  • The TCP/IP model is specifically intended for the TCP/IP family of protocols.

  • The TCP/IP model and protocols chronologically predate the OSI model and protocols.

  • Traditional TCP/IP applications talk directly to the Transport layer and have no distinct session and presentation layer protocols.

Next, we examine the TCP/IP 5-layer model in more detail to illustrate which protocols operate at each of the layers. The TCP/IP model and the protocols that function within each of its layers constitute the basis for the rest of this book. A brief description of each protocol appears in this chapter; later chapters examine the individual protocols in greater detail.

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