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A separate network node is useful if Neutron-related processing overwhelms your controller. In particular if you use centralized routers instead of DVR, since most network traffic to and from instances goes through one server.

If you use DVR, or just a few compute nodes, I strongly doubt you need a network node. If, however, you want to try setting one up, this is not really different from running Neutron on the controller; just install and configure all Neutron components on that node. Pre-Liberty installation tutorials did that, though they kept neutron-server on the controller. If you want to read old tutorials, you may be able to build them according to https://docs.openstack.org/doc-contrib-guide/docs-builds.html#building-docs-from-end-of-life-releases.

The neutron CLI is indeed deprecated, but still supported as of Queens, I think. If you fail to connect to the neutron server, you need to check if it is running at all, if networking and firewall configuration allows you to reach it, and if the endpoints configured in the service catalog correspond to the neutron-server configuration. Start with curl http://IPADDRESS:9696, where IPADDRESS is the address in the catalog.