You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird … So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing – that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
As the title of this book suggests, this book is a minimalist approach to teaching TCP/IP using laboratory-based experiments. It is minimalist in that it provides one, possibly idiosyncratic, choice of topics at a depth we felt was sufficient to learn the basics of TCP/IP. The intention was not to write a reference text on the subject. The laboratory was important in giving students the experience of observing the TCP/IP protocols in action. The act of observing and drawing some conclusions from those observations, brings to life the often dry study of network protocols, and motivates students to learn more about them.
Appendix A is necessary reading only for the instructor who is in charge of setting up the lab. We have attempted to keep costs down so that only the most Scrooge-like University administrator would raise an eyebrow over the cost of the lab equipment (as for lab space, that may be another matter!). We assume that the students have a basic background in networking, perhaps from a previous course, or perhaps as part of a course that back loads the experiments in this book after providing a general lecture-based introduction to networks.