IP Sub-Networking Mini-Howto: What are subnets?

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A subnet is a way of taking a single IP network address and locally splitting it up so that this single network IP address can actually be used on several interconnected local networks. Remember, a single IP network number can only be used on a single network.

The important word here is locally: as far as the world outside the machines and physical networks covered by the sub-netted IP network are concerned, nothing whatsoever has changed – it is still just a single IP network. This is important – sub-networking is a local configuration and is invisible to the rest of the world.

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