My understanding is that the netmask of the interface tells what subnet the interface belongs to. Meaning of this information is that the routing system knows that packets to this subnet should be routed to this interface. In particular, Linux automatically adds this route when an address is configured:
# ip address add 126.96.36.199/24 dev eth0 # ip route 188.8.131.52/24 dev eth0 proto kernel scope link src 184.108.40.206
Additionally, subnet defines broadcast address, so that the host knows how to send broadcast packets and when to accept packets which have several 1's in the end of the address.
Is there any other meaning for the netmask? I.e. if I manually delete the automatically created route, and if this interface never sends broadcast and is not interested in broadcast reception - will there be any difference from the address with /32 netmask?