With that said, I goof'ed yesterday. I yanked out a critical piece of networking hardware, assuming that it wouldn't make a difference and if it did, I further assumed that it would be easy to correct.
W R O N G ! ! !
I yanked out a Netgear switch, in an effort to relocate the switch to my office so that I could work on the new Linux box I've set up to become the new router/firewall/VPN/etc. No, I didn't jot down the wiring in case I was wrong. I further complicated it by putting the other wires in the other hubs and disconnecting dead ports (just as an example how fubar'd it got: I had one wire going from and to two ports on the same hub).
*sigh* - Now you're prolly saying "Run to your sysop!!" (a la the folks on IRC). Problem is, I am the sysop.
I'm feeling woefully inadequate and in over my head, when it comes to networking. It took me a frustrating 8 hours to put the pieces back together again, and I still believe there are (minor) networking problems.
Some of the IRC folks say, "Just think or write out what makes sense and it usually does, when it comes to wiring." That may be all well & good, but not when you have a heterogeneous set of computers, NICs and wiring that you can't easily trace from the computers to the hubs/switch (I adopted this hodge-podge/mess). I fixed one such problem this morning by plugging a line into one hub vs. the other (I guess one hub doesn't like the NIC on the other side). The network topography is just so strange - I'm half-expecting Tim Burton to direct a film about it. I got the internet (DSL) coming into a 5-port switch (Netgear FS105). Then I have two ports - one going to a CentreCOM 16-port hub and another going to an Asante 12-port hub.
Whatever - knock on wood and hope that nothing else fails on the network. I've since bought two books to help me w/ setting up the Linux box (Linux Firewalls and VPNs: A Beginner's Guide) - if you have any book or URL suggestions on how I can further learn Ethernet and/or TCP/IP networking, I'd love to hear 'em. Especially if they are comprehensive and targetted to networking dummies like myself.