Definitions

MAC Address

The MAC address is a preconfigured address supplied by the manufacturer of your computer's network interface. This interface is used to connect to the network. The term MAC is an acronym for Medium Access Control and it pronounces nicely. Hardware address, ethernet address and physical address are sometimes used to describe the same thing.

MAC addresses on ethernets are 6 byte identifiers and are represented as a string of 12 characters. Here are some examples:

08:00:07:0c:7f:b1
00:c0:4f:bb:fa:9e
00:a0:24:d1:f8:0a

The MAC address can be used to uniquely identify a networked computer and it is used here at MIT to configure a computer dynamically. The dynamic host registration process records your computer's MAC address into a database so it is free to move about the MIT networks without having to reconfigure it.

If your computer's MAC address should change, you will need to re-register your computer. The MAC address will change if the computer itself is replaced or upgraded. It will also change if your computer uses a PCMCIA network interface and this PCMCIA card is replaced.



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