A method and apparatus for configuring a system that includes a plurality of interconnected components that each supports service parameters for communicating with other components in the system. A determination is made as to which components support service parameters that are compatible, and groups of components having compatible service parameters are identified. Adjacent components exchange information frames that identify their service parameters. Each component compares its service parameters with those of its adjacent components to determine whether they are compatible, updating its own service parameters if necessary. Any component that updates its service parameters issues another information frame. Thus, information frames are exchanged until it is determined which components support compatible service parameters, and what service parameters are to be used for communicating among those components. Additionally, a unique address is automatically assigned to every port in the system. Control over the entire range of available addresses is initially granted to a master component, which assigns unique addresses to its own ports, and then relinquishes control over ranges of addresses to other components which each becomes the managers of the addresses over which it is granted control. Each address manager assigns unique addresses to its ports, and if any extra addresses are available, relinquishes control over those extra addresses to another component.