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Book Reviews: Unix/Net

Interconnections, 2nd ed.

December 14, 2004
Perlman, Addison-Wesley 2000
This is written by one of the authors of "Network Security". It's all about routers, bridges and their protocols. Each protocol is treated in painful detail. The author also gives her (well-founded) criticism of most protocols, including her own.

You know, the spanning tree algorithm (also affectionally known as 802.1D) was actually invented by Perlman, so she gives a pretty thorough exposition on it. With a little poem to go with it. She also invented a number of other protocols, such as IS-IS and the later DEC protocols.

The discussion about where names like "layer 2 switch", "layer 3 switch", or even plain "switch" comes from, is interesting. And comforting, since I never understood what they were really going on about. Perman confirms my suspicion that it's all marketing speak and actually means practically exactly the same as "bridge", resp. "router". Nothing more, nothing less. Recently, I've seen marketing stuff referring to "layer 4 switches", which is less clear to me what they represent. Since layer 4 equals the transport layer (TCP, UDP, SPX, for instance), that would make these switches circuit level proxies, wouldn't it? Like SOCKS, or something.

I quit reading the book with my full attention about 100 pages from the end, since the detailed discussion got beyond me. I probably missed some crucial information upstream somewhere and derailed. But I'm sure to return to this volume many times during my remaining career, and sooner or later, even those last almost indigestible chapters will succumb. (No comments yet)

Running Linux

May 23, 2004
Welsh-Kaufman, O'Reilly, 1995
A very good intro to general use, care and feeding of Linux, and by implication, most other similar unix variants. Both this book and the next one used to be freely available as download over the net. Back then I couldn't print decent tomes, so I bought the paper versions anyway. This book comes included in some Linux distributions, though. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Linux Network Administrator's Guide

May 23, 2004
Kirch, O'Reilly, 1995
As the title says, it's about network setup and administration for Linux. View it as an introduction to the subject. It doesn't obviate the need for the TCP/IP, DNS and possibly NFS books below. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Essential System Administration

May 23, 2004
Frisch, O'Reilly, 1993
For unix administration, you clearly need a number of books. No two books cover anything like the same things. So get this one as well as the next two. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Unix System Administration Handbook 2nd ed.

May 23, 2004
Nemeth, Prentice-Hall, 1995
Well written with very readable and wry accounts of things going wrong. It's not intended to be a comprehensive guide, so the things that don't often go wrong, aren't always mentioned. Highly recommended. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Unix in a Nutshell

May 23, 2004
Gilly, O'Reilly, 1994
Nutshell guides are somewhere between reference manuals and quick references. Admirable format and very useful, but you still need the previous two books as well. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Unix Communications and the Internet, 3rd ed.

May 23, 2004
Anderson, Sams, 1995
I still don't like Sams. Weighty volumes with little content. I did use this one a few times with good results, but nothing that would warrant the sheer size of the thing. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

TCP/IP Network Administration

May 23, 2004
Hunt, O'Reilly, 1994
Setting up anything network related under unix, then you need this one. Routing? You need it. Resolver problems? You need it. Bind coming unstuck? You need it. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

DNS and BIND 2nd ed.

May 23, 2004
Albitz-Liu, O'Reilly, 1997
Anything DNS related, especially setting up zone files, having masters and slaves getting their act together, getting mail exchangers right, and so on and so forth. You need this one. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Managing NFS and NIS

May 23, 2004
Stern, O'Reilly, 1992
For a limited while there, I had to do things to multiple Sun machines using NFS/NIS, so I got myself this book. It helped. Now you know. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Managing uucp

May 23, 2004
O'Reilly-Todino, O'Reilly, 1992
At the same place, I also had to do uucp stuff, since we were running something more like a BBS on unix than anything else. Using dial-up of all things. Those times are long gone, I hope, but if you're still living in medieval times, get it, by all means. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

sendmail 2nd ed.

May 23, 2004
Costales-Allman, O'Reilly, 1997
If you're still into real mail (not Exchange and Groupwise and similarly effeminate derivatives) you can certainly use this tome and a month to spare. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)

Learning the vi Editor

May 23, 2004
Lamb, O'Reilly, 1994
Ever tried to master vi from the man pages? Successfully? Yeah?? If yes, then I greet you, superior being. Everyone else could certainly use this little book instead. It also comes with a priceless (metaphorically, the book's not all that expensive) quick reference card. (Added July 2000) (No comments yet)