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Practical TCP/IP Niall Mansfield
Published by Addison-Wesley
864 pages
£ 38.99
Published: 17th December 2002
reviewed by Mike Smith
   in the June 2003 issue (pdf), (html)

Well, I suppose I must have asked to review this book, but it isn't an O'Reilly title - its an Addison-Wesley one. The first similarity is that there is a picture of an animal on the cover - albeit very pixilated. I think its a racoon.

Its a bit of a tome - 27 chapters in 4 parts, and nearly 900 pages. I got a little concerned when I read the introduction and it started talking about NT4. Yes NT4, not Win2K or 2003 or XP. An explanation was given - that NT4 is the common denominator, but I don't buy it. Anyway the reason its so big, I suspect, is that it covers both Windows and Unix. I'll retract that comment later if I discover another cause after reading a few chapters.

It has a chapter 0, and that gets a big thumbs up from me - I like counting from zero. This covers some TCP/IP basics - though introducing the novice to tcpdump on page one is an interesting approach. Chapter one goes more into tcpdump, and chapter two covers arp, ping, netmasks and suchlike.

Jumping on a bit, there's routing, DNS, the application layer - with telnet, mail etc and then back to diagnostics with ethereal and ngrep.

As we're covering windows as well as Linux, Netbios and WINS are covered. And SAMBA actually.

Back to that point about the book being so large, there are other reasons:

0: There are a lot of examples

1: There are many, reasonably good, diagrams too

2: There are labs at the end of many chapters, in which you are asked to do certain things (like setup a small network with Windows and Linux servers on)

Other things covered: Firewalls, dial-up, PPP, NAT - even Cisco's VRRP protocol. There's a whole hotch-potch. IPsec, VPNs, the list goes on. IPv6 in the appendices, for example. (And RJ45 pinouts and Null modem wiring diagrams!) So its another one of those books which tries to cover everything - and I'm not sure on the wisdom of covering everything Linux and everything Windows together - its too much these days. Still, a lot of good information in there.

I hadn't realised there had been a practical implementation of rfc1149! See Fantastic.

Yesterday my daughter asked me if I had an old thick book - so that she could cut the middle of the centre pages out and hide a camera in it (must have been something on TV). I had half a mind to give her this one - its not an O'Reilly after all, but actually I think I will hang on to it. Its okay: covers lots of area, has the odd good bit in it, and has lots and lots of references to other materials. I had a look on the web to see what other stuff he's written - 10 years ago he wrote ``The Joy of X''. Oh dear.

Oh yeah, did I mention X, LDAP, NFS, FTP, netcat, NTP, Shares, PDC, Elections, MIBs, HTTP, UCE, Virus Scanning, ICMP ... You get the picture.

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