You Should Be Able to Use A Hub Or Switch
For a small network you should be able to use either a hub or a switch. When you set a port to 'uplink' all it does is swap the transmit and receive pairs, this has the same effect as a crossover cable. This also gives you a great way of testing cables without a PC, connect a standard port and an uplink port together and both sets of port lights should come on.
As for the difference between switches and hubs the best explanation I have heard is as follows:
A hub works in a similar way to a taxi radio system. The base station issues instructions which all cars can hear but only the intended car responds to the message, all others ignore it. When the car replies to the message all other cars also hear but only the base station takes action. It is in other words a BROADCAST system.
A switch works in a similar way to the cellphone system. By examining the packets of the signal only the intended recipient gets to hear the message, others ignore it because the address/number is wrong. Switched networks are therefore more efficient.