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When Novell NetWare was introduced, it was designed to be a server platform for a local area and wide area networks. To that end, they designed a protocol stack that was very efficient over local area networks and that would also work on wide area networks. That protocol stack was the Internetwork Packet eXchange/Sequenced Packet eXchange, or IPX/SPX.


IPX is the Network layer protocol that handles addressing and routing for the IPX/SPX protocol stack. IPX addressing is actually very simple. It takes the 12-digit hexadecimal address, as that is the address for the individual node on that network segment. The network segment is referred to by its own unique 8-digit hexadecimal address. For example, the address:


would correspond to a station with a MAC address of 12AB341FF414 on the network segment labeled 0001ABF3. Every network segment is assigned its own, unique IPX network address. Since the network card has the MAC address burned in at the factory and, for the most part, can’t be changed, it doesn’t have to be configured. The only configuration that must be done is to assign the IPX network address and configure the server with that address.

In addition to a station address, routers are given an internal IPX address. This address uniquely identifies a router to the rest of a network. NetWare servers always have an internal IPX address because they can function as routers.


Most routers that route TCP/IP traffic can also route IPX traffic (although they may require additional software or configuration). IPX/SPX is a routable protocol stack because it has routing protocols designed into it. The routing protocols for IPX/SPX are RIP and NLSP.

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