Friday, 26 November 2010
Networking For the Rest of Us
Network Know-How: An Essential Guide for the Accidental Admin
No Starch Press
It is unlikely that those with extensive theoretical and practical experience of designing, building and maintaining small computer networks will find much of interest in John Ross' book. However, if like me you are the archetypal "accidental admin", this may just be the most useful computer book that you ever buy!
In Network Know-how, Ross introduces the novice network manager to the basic concepts of networking and provides important insights into why things work (or sometimes don’t work) in small network environments. He offers practical advice on LAN design as well as equipment and infrastructure installation, giving concise instructions on how to setup and operate a range of servers, clients, and peripherals. All this Ross achieves without resorting to unnecessary jargon or gross over-simplification: in short, it is networking for the rest of us!
Given the extensive range of hardware and software available, the book does tend to be understandably vague regarding hardware and, in places, a little Windows-centric. Nevertheless, Ross has been careful to provide pointers for Mac and Linux users even if it is not as comprehensive as one would have liked and, because he explains the principles of networking so well, these signposts are more than sufficient to cope with all but the most specialised kit. Reading this book has resulted in significantly improved security in my own network and the ability to share files and services across multiple operating platforms (Windows, Windows Mobile, & Linux) and devices.
Overall, this book is a thoroughly recommended tract on networking for non-specialists. As with all books of the genre, this one is over-priced. However, don't let this fool you into believing that it is not value for money: if you want a secure and reliable network over which you can share data and resources, this is an excellent introduction.