Network settings?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by OldMarketMeg, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. OldMarketMeg macrumors member

    OldMarketMeg

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha
    #1
    When I go to System Preferences > Network, I see four choices...
    - Wi-Fi
    - Ethernet
    - FireWire
    - Bluetooth PAN​

    This box is showing me the different ways that I can connect to the Internet, right?

    Can someone explain the choices?

    I understand what a Wi-Fi connection is, since I use them often at places like McDonalds.

    Ethernet means a "cabled" Internet connection, like DSL or cable, right?

    And I thought FireWire was special cable that is super fast that you use to connect to things like an external hard-drive. So what does that have to do with connecting to the Internet?

    And I thought that BlueTooth was for things like a wireless keyboard. What does that have to do with connecting to the Internet?
     
  2. mfram macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego, CA USA
    #2
    "Network" doesn't necessarily mean "Internet". It could be a local network. It is possible to plug a FireWire cable between two computers with FireWire ports and network them. Thus the option. Bluetooth tethering to a cellphone is an example of networking over Bluetooth. It's not as fast an wifi, but less power.
     
  3. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #3
    Yes, that's spot-on. Also complicating matters is that not all of these methods to connect will get you to the Internet. FireWire, for example, is only for computer-to-computer direct connections. A similar limitation applies to Thunderbolt. That being said, networks are complicated things - you see, the usual setup requires going through a local network to get to the Internet anyway. Ethernet is indeed "cabled" or wired networking, with an RJ-45 cable (these come in a bunch of categories for speed ratings). Similarly for Wi-Fi, there's a bunch of standards, each supporting different speeds, frequencies, and ranges. Some examples of Wi-Fi standards: 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, and the newest member of the family, 802.11ad "WiGig". On the subject of cables, it is generally (but not always - see crossover Ethernet as a counter-example) true that Ethernet connections are used to get to a cable or DSL modem, and thus the Internet.

    If that was too much to absorb, here's the short story: Wi-Fi and Ethernet are BY FAR the most common internet connections. Wi-Fi is wireless, while Ethernet relies on cables. The other two are used for direct (computer-to-computer) connections or "tethered" connections (via a cell phone).
     
  4. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #4
    But complicating things even further, it's possible to get an Ethernet-Thunderbolt adapter and it is therefore possible to connect to the Internet over Thunderbolt.
     
  5. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #5
    Oh yes, that is actually necessary for some newer Macs that lack Ethernet ports - such as newer MacBook Pros, the newest MacBook, and all MacBook Airs. Forgot about that little fact... tripped me up when I experimented with other OSes on such a Mac, and immediately encountered issues getting the Wi-Fi to work.
     
  6. OldMarketMeg thread starter macrumors member

    OldMarketMeg

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha
    #6
    Wow! Ask a question at MacRumors and look out for the answers! :D

    I am writing a guide on changing DNS for safe surfing, and it sounds like I just need to focus on WiFi and Ethernet for what I am writing.

    Thanks guys! :apple:
     
  7. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #7
    Think of it this way: there's the physical device (Wifi, ethernet, Thunderbolt-to-enet adapter, USB-to-enet, etc) and then there are the protocols that use that physical device for communicating. In theory one can use almost any physical device to talk pretty much any protocol, by writing the right kind of device driver; but in general practice the Internet related protocols are supported by Wifi and ethernet-like physical device drivers, and not by firewire or bluetooth device drivers. DNS is one of those Internet related protocols, along with IP, TCP/IP, UDP, and many more.

    So, your conclusion is generally correct. When you write your guide, though, you'll want to avoid giving readers the notion that DNS is somehow specifically tied to the physical hardware being used. The physical layers and protocol layers are two separate things.

    As explained above, some devices appear under "Networking" which may talk local protocols and not the full IP / internet related suite of protocols.
     
  8. OldMarketMeg thread starter macrumors member

    OldMarketMeg

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha
    #8
    Maybe so, but where you set the DNS is tied to the physical devices under Network which seems dumb to me.

    I guess Apple wants to give people the ability to use different DNS based on whether they connect via Wi-Fi or Ethernet?
     
  9. bcave098 macrumors 6502

    bcave098

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2015
    Location:
    Northern British Columbia
    #9
    This is the case for every operating system. Each interface (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, etc) has unique settings.
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #10
    Even better... if you want you can make entirely different profiles depending on how/where you are operating.

    Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 1.43.26 PM.png

    You can go to this screen and make as many profiles as you want.
     
  11. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #11
    Each offering may provide you a choice for how to connect to your router which may connect to a modem type device which acts to connect you to an Internet service provider. Some routers and modems may exist in one case and be a combo device.

    1) Ethernet Cable - direct connect to router
    2) WiFi capable of wirelessly sending TCP/IP stack to a transceiver (usually a router for your* purposes)
    3) USB 2,3,3.1, ... by way of dongle and software (either added or native to OS) may use Ethernet cable to router
    4) Firewire - similar to USB (though it handles TCP/IP differently, the end game is the same)
    5) TBolt - similar to USB as well with respect to dongle and end game.

    Items 3, 4 and 5 may also use a WiFi adapter with either software added or native to OS. The end result is similar to built in WiFi with slight overhead possibly added.

    Bluetooth - capable but full of security caveats.

    Since one can switch around with connectivity, what each connect to also might be available for selection and that would include Gateway or DNS etc. Example - you may at home use WiFi and set it up to meet certain needs including DNS, yet when you go to work, you connect via Ethernet and they provide you with DNS that is different. Some folks refer to these types of settings as "profiles" or make them custom default entries etc.
     

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