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3 Regional, National, and International Networks     continued...

The Internet is a loose federation of wide area networks. There is no central Internet administration to evaluate applications for membership, there are no dues, and there are no formal rules other than those of the constituent networks. If your workstation is part of a local area network that is connected to a regional or national network, chances are your machine is already a part of the Internet. Most national and international wide area networks, including NSFNET, ESNET, ARPANET, and BITNET, are members of the Internet. Internet services are not (yet) as transparent as local network services. For example, in order to copy a file in a local area network, you would just type

% cp x y
where x is the name of the existing file and y is the name you want to give the copy. You don't need to know whether x is on your machine, a different workstation, or a file server. In a wide area network, however, you start a special application that makes a remote connection, displays names of files you can access, and has many different transfer modes. In the near future, however, as bandwidth improves and the services described in this section evolve, you can expect the conceptual dividing line between local and wide area networks to blur. For example you should be able to start an X Window client application on a computer on the other side of the country and have it draw windows directly on your workstation.