If config is used to configure kernal resident network interfaces. It is often used within startup scripts and/or Network Wizards/managers. It is considered obsolete on many versions of linux but still wildly used and supported.

Puppylinux uses this in many of it's networking wizards (and their corresponding networking startup scripts) both for code stability with older versions of puppylinux and because the functionality is built into BusyBox, which is a core part of puppylinux.

The typical replacement for ifconfig (part of net-tools) is iproute2. Iproute2 is avaivalbe as a pet package on puppylinux and is required for some advaned networking such as having multiple default gateways.

Some common uses of ifconfig are

Bring Up an Interface
ifconfig eth0 up

(one might need to do this to troubleshoot a network wizard)

Setting Up a Static IP
ifconfig eth0 netmask broadcast

(recommended for fixed local networks)

Bring Down an Interface
ifconfig eth0 down

(simplifies troubleshooting routing issues. )

Man Pages

via freeBSD.org
via linux.die.net

Also on this wiki

How to configure wifi from the commandline - Intro


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