Glossary for Internet Related Terms


64K line
A digital phone-line connection (leased line) capable of carrying 64,000 bits-per-second, At this speed, a Megabyte will take about 3 minutes to transfer. This is four times as fast as a 14,400bps modem.. See also: bandwidth, T1.


A set of protocols that allows you to use files on other network machines as if they were local. So, rather than using FTP to transfer a file to your local computer, you can read it, write it, or edit it on the remote computer—using the same commands that you would use locally. Very similar in concept to NFS (q. v.), though it provides better performance. Not yet in the wide spread use, though a commercial version is currently available from a company called Transarc.

Software that performs a particular useful function for you. ("Do you have an electronic mail application installed on your computer?") (b) The useful function itself (e.g., transferring files is an useful application of the Internet.)

A system for locating files that are publicly available by Anonymous FTP. Archie is described in Chapter on FTP.

An experimental network established in the 70s where the theories and software on which the Internet is based were tested. No longer in existence.

Address (Network address)
Internet site addresses come in two forms: as a set of numbers such as and as alpha numerical such as (these can represent the same address, and either can be used, e.g., Telnet). (2) An individual’s email address, e.g., at this site, Internet for You may look like

Anonymous FTP
The use of the FTP protocol with Internet-connected sites that offer public access to their files without requiring your ID or a password. Usually, after making a connection with an FTP site, the user responds to the login prompt with the word "anonymous" and then to the password prompt with his or her full Internet address.


(American Standard Code for Information Interchange) – This is a de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by the computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 ASCII codes by a seven digit binary number 0000000 through 1111111.


When transmitting data, the number of times the medium’s state changes per second. For example a 14,400 baud modem changes the signal it sends on the phone line 14,400 times per second. Since each change in state can correspond to multiple bits of data, the actual bit rate of data transfer may exceed the baud rate. Also, see bits per second.

The UNIX implementation of DNS (q.v.). It stands for "Berkeley Internet Name Domain."

Bits per second (bps)
The speed at which bits are transmitted over a communication medium.

Common abbreviation used in mail and news, meaning "by the way".

Hi-speed line or series of communications that major pathway within the network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non backbone lines in large network. See also: Network.

How much "stuff " you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bit-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full screen video will require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.

(Bulletin Board System) – a computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files and make announcements without the people being connected at the computer at the same time. There are many thousands (millions?) of BBS’s around the world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with one or two phone lines. Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.

(BINary HEXadecimal) a method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet Email can only handle ASCII. See also: ASCII.

(Binary DigIT) A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second. See also: Bandwidth, Bps, Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte.

(Because Its Time Network)—A network of educational sites separate from Internet, but email is freely exchanged between BITNET and Internet. Listservs, the most popular form of email discussion groups originated on BITNET.BINET machines are IBM-VMS machines, and the network is probably the only International network that is shrinking.

When email is undeliverable it is sent back to you (bounce) so that you will know that it is not delivered, and will be able determine what the problem was.

A client program (software) that is used to look at various kind of Internet resources. See also: Client, URL, WWW.

A set of bits that represent a single character, usually there are 8 bits in a byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.


Commercial Internet Exchange: A arrangement over network providers that allows them to do accounting for commercial traffic. Although it has been discussed a lot in the press, its primarily a concern for network providers.

A software application that works on your behalf to extract some service from a server somewhere on the network. Think of your telephone as a client and telephone company as a server to get the idea.

Command Line
On our PC and your Internet access provider’s computer, when you are at the system’s main prompt, you are on its command line (prompts often end in symbols such as $ or % or >.)

Communications Software
Usually used in reference to programs that run on a PC which allow the computer to communicate with a modem, and does through the phone lines.

The term originated by author William Gibson in his novel "Neuromancer", the word cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.


A packet of information that is sent to the receiving computer without any prior warning. Conceptually, a "datagram" is somewhat like a telegram. It’s self-contained message that can arrive at any time, without notice. Datagraphs are usually used in application where the amount of information transferred is occasional and small.

Defense Data Network, a portion of the Internet, which connects to U.S. Military Bases, and contractors, used for non-secure communications. MILNET is one of the DDN networks. It also runs "the NIC, " where a lot of Internet information is archived.

A set of proprietary networking protocols used by Digital Equipment Corporation operating systems, instead of TCP/IP. These protocols are compatible with the Internet.

For all practical purposes another name for AFS. More specifically DFS refers to the AFS implementation that’s part of OSF’s DCE (Distributed Computing Environment).

To connect to a computer by calling it up on the telephone. Often, "dial-up" only refers to the kind of connection you make using a terminal emulator and a regular modem. For the techies: switched character-oriented asynchronous communication.

A port that accepts dial-up connections ("How many dial-up ports on your computer?")

Domain Name
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have two or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, the part on the right is the most general. A given machine can have more than one Domain name but a given Domain Name points to only one machine. Usually, all the machines on a given network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names, e.g.,, and so on. It is also possible for a Domain Name to exist but be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or a business can have an Internet Email address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed Domain Name. See also: IP Number.

The Domain Name System; a distributed database system for translating computer names (like into numeric Internet addresses (like and vice-versa. DNS allows you to use the Internet without remembering long lists of numbers.

The (U.S.) Department of Defense, whose Advanced Research Projects Agency got the Internet started by creating the ARPAnet.


(Electronic Mail) – Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to large number of addresses (Mailing List). See also: Listserv, Mailist.

A kind of "local area network." There are several different kinds of wiring, which support different communication speeds, ranging from 2 to 10 million bits per second. What makes an Ethernet an Ethernet is the way the computers on the network decide whose turn it is to talk. Computers using TCP/IP are frequently connected to the Internet over an Ethernet.


Either a frequently asked question, or list of frequently asked questions and their answers. Many USENET news groups, and some non-USENET mailing lists, maintain FAQ lists (FAQs) so that participants won’t spend lots of time answering the same set of questions.

An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming finger requests, but many do.

A virulent and (often) largely personal attack against the author of a USENET posting. "Flames" are unfortunately common. People who frequently write flames are known as "flamers."

A organization to provide free Internet access to people in a certain area, usually through public libraries.

(File Transfer Protocol) – A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name "anonymous" , thus these sites are called "anonymous ftp servers".

A common abbreviation in mail and news, meaning "for your information".

A series of informative papers about the Internet; they are similar to RFCs but don’t define new standards.


The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example Prodigy has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary E-mail format and Internet E-mail format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism of providing access t another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.

A widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it is being largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.


Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and USENET.

(HyperText Markup Language) – The coding language used to create Hypertext language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is "linked" to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client program, such as Netscape.

(HyperText Transport Protocol) – The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires HTTP client program on one end, and HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is most important protocol used in World Wide Web (WWW).

Generally, any text that contains "links" to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.



The Internet Architecture Board, the "ruling council" that makes decisions about standards and other important issues.


The Internet Engineering Task Force, a volunteer group that investigates and solves technical problems, and makes recommendations to the IAB.

(In My Humble Opinion) – A shorthand appended to a comment written in an on-line forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion. One of many such shorthands in common use on-line, especially in discussion forums.

The vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Internet now connects roughly 60,000 independent networks into a vast global internet.

The Internet Protocol; the most important of the protocols on which the Internet is based. It allows a packet to traverse multiple networks on the way to its final destination.

IP Number

Sometimes called a "dotted quad". A unique number consisting of four parts separated by dots, e.g. is a IP number of one of the servers at VSNL. Every machine that is on the Internet has an unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.

(Internet Relay Chat) – Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a "channel" and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person "conference calls".

(Integrated Services Digital Network) – Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is only slowly becoming available in Mumbai. It allows a very large bandwidth for transmission of data.

The International Organization for Standardization; An organization that has defined a different set of network protocols, called the ISO/OSI protocols. In theory, the ISO/OSI protocols will eventually replace the Internet protocols. When and if this will actually happen is a hotly debated topic.

The Internet Society: a membership organization whose members support world-wide information network. It is also the governing body to which the IAB reports.


Kermit is a very popular dialup communication program developed by University of Columbia. In large part it is used as a file transfer protocol. It is available on almost all software platforms. It is very reliable and sturdy but quite a bit slow.

A thousand bytes. Actually, usually, 1024 bytes.

An experimental information-retrieval tool; a "robotic librarian." There isn’t much to say about them yet, but they are something to watch for.


(Local Area Network) – A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of the building.

Leased line
A permanently-connected private telephone line between two locations. Leased lines are typically used to connect a moderate-sized local network to an Internet service provider.

Most common kind of mail list, Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.

Login or login
Noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password). Verb: The act of entering into a computer system, e.g. "login to VSNL’s GIAS system".


(Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension) – A (usually text-base) multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others are used for serious software development, or education purposes and all that lies in between. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact with in their absence, thus allowing a "world" to be built gradually and collectively.

Mail list (or Mailing List)
A (usually automated) system that allows people to send E-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied an sent to all other subscribers to the mail list. In this way, people who have many different kinds of E-mail access can participate in discussions together.

mail reflector
A special mail address; electronic mail sent to this address is automatically forwarded to a set of other addresses. Typically, used to implement a mail discussion group.

(Modulator, DEModulator) – a piece of equipment that connects a computer to a data transmission line (typically a telephone line of some sort). Presently the modems transfer data at speeds ranging from 1200 to 33,600 bits per second. There are also modems providing higher speeds and supporting other media. These are used for special purposes – for example, to connect a large local network to its network provider over a leased line.

The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh, Windows and Unix all with the same interface. "Mosaic" really started the popularity of the Web. The source code for the Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are several other pieces of software as good as or better than Mosaic, most Notably "Netscape", "Internet Explorer" etc.


(Network Information Center) – Generally, any office that handles information for a network a network. The most famous of these on the Internet is the InterNIC, which is where new domain names are registered.

(Network File System) – A set of protocols that allows you to use files on other network machines as if they were local. So rather than using FTP to transfer a file to your local computer, you can read it, write it or edit it on the remote computer – using the same commands that you’d use locally. NFS was originally developed by SUN Microsystem, Inc. and is currently in widespread use.

Anytime you connected two or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect two or more network together you have internet.

The name for discussion groups on Usenet. See also: Usenet.

Network Operations Center; a group which is responsible for the day-to-day care and feeding of a network. Each service provider usually has separate NOC, so you need to know which one to call when you have problems.

Any single computer connected to a network.

(The National Research and Education Network) – A US effort to combine networks operated by different federal agencies into single high-speed network. While this transition will be significant technical and historical importance, it should have no effect on the typical Internet user.


Internet standard-monger’s lingo for a set of 8 bits, i.e., a byte.


(Open Systems Interconnect) – another set of network protocols.


A bundle of data. On the Internet, data is broken up into small chunks, called "packet"; each packet traverses the network independently. Packet sizes can vary from roughly 40 to 32,000 bytes, depending on network hardware media, but the packets are normally less than 1500 bytes long.

Packet Switching
The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of the machine is broken up in chunks, each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at same time.

A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as "shanti8". A good password might be: Ramu-9.

E-mail program which was developed by University of Washington and available on most platforms. It is very common on UNIX based shell accounts. It organizes your E-mail. Recently it has become popular compared to UNIX mail or ELM mailer also available on UNIX.

Two commonly used meaning: "Point of Presence" and "Post Office Protocol". A "Point of Presence" usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dialup phone lines, so if an Internet company says they will soon have a POP in Nasik, it means they will soon have a local phone number in Nasik and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network. A second meaning, "Post Office Protocol" refers to the way E-mail software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell account, you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your E-mail software to use to get your mail.

Three meanings. First and most generally, a place where information goes into or out of a computer, or both e.g. "serial port" on a personal computer, is where a modem will be connected. On the Internet "port" often refers to a number that is part of a URL, appearing after colon ( : ) right after domain name. Every service on an Internet server "listens" on a particular port number on that server. Most services have standard port number, e.g., Web servers normally listen on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case the port number must be specified in an URL when accessing the server, so you might see an URL of the form: gopher:// which shows a gopher server running on an non-standard port (the standard gopher port is 70). Finally, "port" also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from one type of computer system to another, e.g. to translate a Windows program so that it will run on a Macintosh.

An individual article sent to USENET news group; or the act of sending an article to an USENET news group.

(Point to Point Protocol) – most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular phone line and a modem to make a TCP/IP connection and thus be really and truly on the Internet. PPP is gradually replacing SLIP for this purpose.

A protocol is just a definition of how computers will act when talking to each other. Protocol definitions how bits are placed on a wire to the format of electronic mail message. Standard protocols allow computers from different manufacturers to communicate; computers can use completely different software, providing that the programs running on both ends agree on what the data means.


(Request for comments) – a set of papers in which the Internet’s standards, proposed standards and generally agreed -upon ideas are documented and published.

A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between two or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.

Common abbreviation in mail and news, meaning "read the (...) manual."


A computer, or a software package that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g. "Our mail server is down today, that is why E-mail isn’t getting out." A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network.

service provider (ISP)
An organization that provides connections to a part of Internet. If you want to connect you company’s network, or even your personal computer, to the Internet, you have to talk to a "service provider". Also commonly known as ISP (Internet Service Provider).

On an UNIX system, software that accepts and processes command lines from your terminal. UNIX has multiple shells available (e.g. C shell, Bourne shell, Korn shell etc.), each with slightly different command formats and facilities.

A file, typically five lines long or so, that people often insert at the end of electronic mail messages or USENET news articles. A signature contains, minimally, a name and an E-mail address. Signatures usually also contain postal addresses, and often contain silly quotes, pictures, and other things. Some are very elaborate, though signatures five or six lines long are in questionable taste.

(Serial Line IP) – a protocol that allows a computer to use the Internet protocols (and become a full-fledged Internet member) with a standard telephone line and a high-speed modem. SLIP is being superseded by PPP, but still in common use.

Smiling faces used in mail and news to indicate humor and irony. The most common smiley is :- ). You also see :- (, meaning disappointment and lots of other variations. Since the variations are so, er, "variant", it’s not worth going into detail. You’ll pick up their connotations with time.

Stanford Reaserch Institute – A California-based research institute that runs the Network Information Systems Center (NISC). The SRI has played an important role in coordinating the Internet.

switched access
A network connection that can be created destroyed as needed. Dial-up connections are the simplest form of switched connections. SLIP or PPP also are commonly run over switched connections.


A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits per second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits per second (E-1).

A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 45,000,000 bits per second. This is more than enough to full-screen, full-motion video.

(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) – This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.

The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The Telnet command/program gets you to the "login" prompt of another host.

time out
A "time out" is what happens when two computers are "talking" and one computer—for any reason –fails to respond. The other computer will keep on trying for a certain amount of time, but will eventually "give up".

Terminal Server
A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SILP services if connected to the Internet.


(The User Datagram Protocol) – Another of the protocols on which the Internet is based. For the techies, UDP is a connectionless unreliable protocol. If you’re not techie don’t let the word "unreliable" worry you.

A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is "multi-user") and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for the servers on the Internet.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL looks like this: etc. The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a WWW browser program, such as Netscape, or Lynx.

A world wide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all Usenet machines are on the Internet, may be half. Usenet is completely decentralized, with over 15,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.

(UNIX-to-UNIX copy) –a facility for copying files between UNIX systems, on which mail and USENET services are built. While UUCP is still useful, the Internet provides a better way to do the same job.


(Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives) – Developed at the University Nevada, Veronica is a constantly updated databases of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher servers. The Veronica database can be searched from the most major gopher menus.


(Wide Area Information Servers) – A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of Information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked ("scored") according to how relevant the "hits" are, and that subsequent searches can find "more stuff like the last batch" and thus refine the search process.

(Wide Area Network) – Any internet or network that covers an area larger than single building or campus.

WWW(World Wide Web)
Two meanings- First, loosely used: The whole constellation of resources tat can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, Usenet, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files etc. to be mixed together.


A file transfer protocol which transfers the files to & from your PC to server (e.g. VSNL ). Outstanding feature of this protocol compared to others available is that it has crash recovery feature i.e. if your connection to VSNL snaps part way through the transferring the file you can reconnect and the transfer can resume from where it left.