Just a quick point about switches and routers. You are correct that a router also (usually) contains a switch. A switch is just a set of connections which can all talk to each other. What makes a router a router is simply that it presents one IP address range on one side of it, and another on the other. A typical home router will have one side with a single ethernet port, and the other side "faces" the switch itself (so it faces all the systems connected to that switch).
You can use it as just a switch if you want though. One of the things to realize is that routing protocols are only used when needed. When one computer attempts to talk to another, it will first broadcast that connection on its connected default network port. If it gets a response, it's done. If it doesn't, then it talks to its default gateway address and asks it to route that packet to wherever it needs to go. The router then uses a series of routing discovery protocols to find a route to the correct subnet somewhere else and then sends the packet off on its merry way. This is handy knowledge if you ever find yourself having to configure some nutty network device with a hardwired ethernet address from the vendor. Just power it on and connect it to your network, then configure a virtual address on a computer on the same network and telnet to the address of the device. Presto!
You can use a router as a simple switch, just make sure that the router IP facing the switch itself is either not configured, or is set to some unused address. You don't want it sharing the same address as your actual home network router or they'll fight over who get a routed packet with "bad" results...
King Nobby wrote:
More words please