Review of "Linux Network Administrators Guide"

Olaf Kirch - ISBN1-56592-087-2 - Available from the UKUUG book service

O'Reilly 'Nutshell' books have been a handy source of information for Linux users with works on sed & AWK, Perl programming, TCP/IP, sendmail and many other things that the serious Linux user needs to know. The Linux Network Administrators Guide is their first book specificly aimed at the Linux marketplace. Yes is is the same book as is available on the net as part of the Linux Documentation Project in a way. What O'Reilly have done with Olaf Kirch's already very useful book is to give it the polish, the attention to detail and layout of a professional publisher.

Olaf admits in the preface that the text of this book is much the same as that of the freely distributable online version. What has happened is the O'Reilly version of the book has a nice layout, with different marginal icons to illustrate specific points to beware of and note for example. The book also has plenty of illustrations and big glossary, bibliography and index sections. In short the book is up to the same high publishing standards that we expect from O'Reilly. Yes you can read much the same text on the net or somewhere in the /usr/doc directory of your Linux distribution. It is however so much nicer to be able to take in some quite complex information from a book rather than staring at a screen. I spend enough time in front of a screen and I find it easier to study from a book and work out what you are trying to do on the screen instead of having to juggle your work and reference material side by side on the screen.

What does the book contain? It is an introduction to the whole gamut of issues involved in networking your Linux (and DOS and other Unix for that matter) machines together, installing ethernet cards, and setting up a local lan - including telling you what the safe network addresses are for local use. Also covered is connecting to the Internet and setting up and using electronic mail, news and other network services. It also contains a lengthy chapter on setting up uucp although I must admit I skipped that chapter. The copious information on how to set up SLIP and PPP links using your modem is more relevant to the 1990s.

The discussion of Internet routing and gateways I found very informative. The information in the book allowed me to set up a parallel IP link between my laptop computer and main system with no trouble at all.

The book gives a good introduction to many networking topics. I would recommended it as a cracking good start to your Linux bookshelf!

Also what better way to find out if you like the book that to have a browse at the online version first?