This may come as a surprise, but iproute2 is already configured! The current commands ifconfig and route are already using the advanced syscalls, but mostly with very default (ie. boring) settings.
The ip tool is central, and we'll ask it to display our interfaces for us.
[ahu@home ahu]$ ip link list 1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP> mtu 3924 qdisc noqueue link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00 2: dummy: <BROADCAST,NOARP> mtu 1500 qdisc noop link/ether 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 3: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,PROMISC,UP> mtu 1400 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 100 link/ether 48:54:e8:2a:47:16 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 4: eth1: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,PROMISC,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 100 link/ether 00:e0:4c:39:24:78 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 3764: ppp0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP> mtu 1492 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 10 link/ppp
Your mileage may vary, but this is what it shows on my NAT router at home. I'll only explain part of the output as not everything is directly relevant.
We first see the loopback interface. While your computer may function somewhat without one, I'd advise against it. The MTU size (Maximum Transfer Unit) is 3924 octets, and it is not supposed to queue. Which makes sense because the loopback interface is a figment of your kernel's imagination.
I'll skip the dummy interface for now, and it may not be present on your computer. Then there are my two physical network interfaces, one at the side of my cable modem, the other one serves my home ethernet segment. Furthermore, we see a ppp0 interface.
Note the absence of IP addresses. iproute disconnects the concept of 'links' and 'IP addresses'. With IP aliasing, the concept of 'the' IP address had become quite irrelevant anyhow.
It does show us the MAC addresses though, the hardware identifier of our ethernet interfaces.
[ahu@home ahu]$ ip address show 1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP> mtu 3924 qdisc noqueue link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00 inet 127.0.0.1/8 brd 127.255.255.255 scope host lo 2: dummy: <BROADCAST,NOARP> mtu 1500 qdisc noop link/ether 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 3: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,PROMISC,UP> mtu 1400 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 100 link/ether 48:54:e8:2a:47:16 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff inet 10.0.0.1/8 brd 10.255.255.255 scope global eth0 4: eth1: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,PROMISC,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 100 link/ether 00:e0:4c:39:24:78 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 3764: ppp0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP> mtu 1492 qdisc pfifo_fast qlen 10 link/ppp inet 184.108.40.206 peer 220.127.116.11/32 scope global ppp0
This contains more information. It shows all our addresses, and to which cards they belong. 'inet' stands for Internet (IPv4). There are lots of other address families, but these don't concern us right now.
Let's examine eth0 somewhat closer. It says that it is related to the inet address '10.0.0.1/8'. What does this mean? The /8 stands for the number of bits that are in the Network Address. There are 32 bits, so we have 24 bits left that are part of our network. The first 8 bits of 10.0.0.1 correspond to 10.0.0.0, our Network Address, and our netmask is 255.0.0.0.
The other bits are connected to this interface, so 10.250.3.13 is directly available on eth0, as is 10.0.0.1 for example.
With ppp0, the same concept goes, though the numbers are different. Its address is 18.104.22.168, without a subnet mask. This means that we have a point-to-point connection and that every address, with the exception of 22.214.171.124, is remote. There is more information, however. It tells us that on the other side of the link there is, yet again, only one address, 126.96.36.199. The /32 tells us that there are no 'network bits'.
It is absolutely vital that you grasp these concepts. Refer to the documentation mentioned at the beginning of this HOWTO if you have trouble.
You may also note 'qdisc', which stands for Queueing Discipline. This will become vital later on.
Well, we now know how to find 10.x.y.z addresses, and we are able to reach 188.8.131.52. This is not enough however, so we need instructions on how to reach the world. The Internet is available via our ppp connection, and it appears that 184.108.40.206 is willing to spread our packets around the world, and deliver results back to us.
[ahu@home ahu]$ ip route show 220.127.116.11 dev ppp0 proto kernel scope link src 18.104.22.168 10.0.0.0/8 dev eth0 proto kernel scope link src 10.0.0.1 127.0.0.0/8 dev lo scope link default via 22.214.171.124 dev ppp0
This is pretty much self explanatory. The first 4 lines of output explicitly state what was already implied by ip address show, the last line tells us that the rest of the world can be found via 126.96.36.199, our default gateway. We can see that it is a gateway because of the word via, which tells us that we need to send packets to 188.8.131.52, and that it will take care of things.
For reference, this is what the old route utility shows us:
[ahu@home ahu]$ route -n Kernel IP routing table Destination Gateway Genmask Flags Metric Ref Use Iface 184.108.40.206 0.0.0.0 255.255.255.255 UH 0 0 0 ppp0 10.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 255.0.0.0 U 0 0 0 eth0 127.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 255.0.0.0 U 0 0 0 lo 0.0.0.0 220.127.116.11 0.0.0.0 UG 0 0 0 ppp0