Networking with Ubuntu 8.04 and Windows Part 2 - page 2
The Network Icon
As touched on in the previous section, you can see your network connection details by bringing up the Connection Information window. Simply right-click the network icon and click Connection Information. You'll see similar results to what Figure 3 shows, a resemblance to the Network Connection Status window of Windows XP accessible by double-clicking the network icon.
The Speed is the (theoretical) data rate in Mbps, or megabits per second, at which you are connected to the network. If you have the latest and greatest wireless gear, 802.11n products, this value should be above 54 Mbps, while speeds at or below this rate will probably be 802.11g equipment. If you're using ancient 802.11b products, however, the data rate may be hovering at or below 11 Mbps.
The IP Address field is the address of your computer, or specifically the particular network adapter you're using. All the devices and computers on your network has (or should have) its own unique IP address. This address helps identify themselves on the network and can be used by users to manually access shared resources of computers.
The Subnet Mask is part of what defines the subnet or section of the IP address range you're using. You'll only have to reference this value if you manually set a static IP address to your computer(s). The Default Route value is the IP address of your router which you can use to access its web-based configuration utility.
The last nugget of information you should be concerned with on the Connection Information window is the Hardware Address. In most other utilities and documentation you'll see this value referred to as the MAC (Media Access Control) or physical address. You can essentially compare this to a VIN number of a vehicle or a serial number of a product. Every networking product has its very own MAC address and is used for identification purposes. The only time you'll probably need to concern yourself with this value when setting up MAC address filtering on your router, to better secure your wireless network from intruders that are within range.