I didnt think about a switcher or hub and would rather avoid one if possible and go direct from one ethernet board to the other.
The coding looks the hard part to me
Networking is very much new to me
I hope to move to FPGA one day if I can get my head round it
Why do you want them connected? A simple serial comms link between them might be the way to go, if you want "simple".
I dont like FPGA's either they are messy and dont have the time to learn them inside out, let alone how they work with ethernet.