Linux can run several protocols that can provide important background functionality on networks. These protocols seldom make themselves obvious to usersexcept if the servers that manage them malfunction. Although most of them are major protocols in the sense that they provide many features and have even spawned entire books, they aren't tricky enough to configure to deserve entire chapters in this book. Therefore, I cover all of them in this chapter. These protocols are the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, which delivers IP addresses and other basic network configuration information to clients; the Domain Name System, which converts hostnames to IP addresses and vice versa; and the Network Time Protocol, which helps keep clocks synchronized on multiple computers.
Although all these protocols can be handled by Windows, doing so with Linux gives you all of Linux's advantages. The servers that handle these protocols are all small enough and require little enough in the way of CPU time, memory, and other resources that they can be run on a very modest Linux systemperhaps an old 80486 or Pentium system that's been retired. You can move one or more of these services onto such a Linux system, obviating the need to upgrade your software and hardware to enable the latest version of Windows to do the job.