The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Networking':
Reviewer amazon.com wrote:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Networking uses careful language, plenty of diagrams, and a lot of patience to explain how computers networks function. This is basically an overview of networking technologies for those new to the field. The authors cover networking theory before comparing and contrasting implementations of local area networks (LANs) on a variety of platforms. You'll find this book handy if you're trying to decide how to build a LAN in your home or office. Wagner and Negus deserve kudos for their extensive coverage of NetWare, Windows, and Unix variants. Many books of this sort cover Windows networking only, despite NetWare's huge installed base and Linux's growing popularity. In addition to explaining the functions of topologies, protocols, and hardware, the authors include considerable information--mostly in general terms--on administration, disaster recovery, and security. The downside of this broad-brush approach is that there's a shortage of specific how-to information about software. Wagner and Negus include a chapter that walks the reader through the process of setting up a small peer-to-peer LAN (a workgroup) under Windows 95 and 98. This chapter's great, but it leaves the reader hankering for a similar how-to for Linux and NetWare. The book would have been improved by additional information on setting up heterogeneous LANs.
Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
A guide to networking is a rather ambitious project. It's kind of
like a guide to life, being the technical equivalent to the universe
and everything. A forgiving reviewer would therefore tolerate gaps in
coverage, on the basis that the task is impossible. Regular readers
will have noticed that I expect authors to deliver what they promise.
Part one purports to give us a definition of a network, plus a reason
for having one. While chapter one presents a lot of types of networks
(LANs, CANs, MANs, WANs, and the Internet), essentially both chapters
in this section suggest a number of possible uses without getting much
beyond "these computers talk to each other" in terms of explanation.
Part two looks at basic concepts in networking. Chapter three does a
very tolerable job of looking at the difference between peer-to-peer
and client/server networking. The explanation of topologies is not
handled as well, mixing basic types and hybrids. On the other hand,
the technical differences between topologies is probably not apparent
to naive users. However, the comparison table has some problems and
errors in it as well. If, though, the audience is that basic, then
the discussion of architectures in chapter five is pretty meaningless.
(On the other hand, if the audience is more advanced, the discussion
is insufficient.) Lots of hardware gets thrown around, but without
real discussion of the implications, in chapter six. Chapter seven's
brief look at network operating systems is terse, in some places
misleading, and definitely slanted in favour of Microsoft.
Part three discusses connection and configuration. Chapter eight does
suggest a few questions to ask when planning, but does so in a very
disorganized manner. The advice on buying equipment in chapter nine
is alternately banal and questionable. Some of the dialogue boxes for
network configuration are listed in chapter ten.
Part four overviews maintenance and administration. Chapter eleven
presents a few administrative NT dialogue boxes and UNIX commands.
There is a bit of generic discussion of backup options in chapter
twelve. Is the choice of chapter thirteen for a grab bag of security
speculation with far too little solid advice intentionally ironic, or
just fortuitous? Chapter fourteen's troubleshooting advice is way
beyond the material in the rest of the book, relying on sophisticated
protocol analyzers and expensive commercial tools. Random bits from a
book on upgrading your PCs constitute chapter fifteen, and the same is
true for telecommuting in sixteen.
Part five looks at the Internet. There are some basic concepts in
chapter seventeen, and a chat about email in eighteen.
For those who are completely new to networking, the text is quite
readable, and presents some very simple ideas and terminology well.
However, that is all it does. A great many very important concepts
are completely missed, and such a vast area of topics are never
discussed that the reader may merely be left with enough information
to be a danger to him or herself. Those setting up the simplest and
most basic of small office networks will need system specific
instructions, and those looking at larger projects will need greater
understanding than this book provides.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999
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