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Linux Networking Cookbook 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
stoolpigeon writes "As a dba, I'm constantly looking to learn more about networking and system administration. Both can have quite an impact on the performance of my piece of the puzzle. A welcome addition to the materials to help me learn about networking is Carla Schroder's "Linux Networking Cookbook". This book is just right for the person like myself who enjoys learning by getting hands-on experience with the technology. The scope is wide and so someone with a great depth of networking experience may find that the treatments of each is a bit shallow. On the other hand, that wide scope means this book may hold something new, even for someone with some level of experience." Read on for the rest of JR's review.
Linux Networking Cookbook
author Carla Schroder
pages 632
publisher O'Reilly Media Inc.
rating 9
reviewer JR Peck
ISBN 0-596-10248-8
summary From asterisk to zebra with easy to use recipes.
This is not the kind of book that one sits and reads in the evening to gain new knowledge. I think of it more as a lab book or exercise guide. The user who has this open on the desk beside them, as they work through the 'recipes' is the one who will gain the most. The cookbook also assumes a basic level of ability in working with Linux from the command line.

The book follows a consistent format throughout the chapters. It truly is a cook book with the recipes taking the form of problems and solutions. There are eighteen chapters containing these recipes, the first chapter is a brief overview of networking in general. I think that Schroder's experience in implementing Linux networks or working with Linux in heterogenous networks really shows in the types of solutions and scenarios presented in the book.

Often as I worked through exercises, I kept thinking that what this book gave me was what I would have after hours of Googling and sifting through the results. Schroder has boiled that kind of hunting down to the necessary steps from installation, through configuration and use. For the person who values their time, or is not sure where to start searching for answers, this is a great resource.

The limitation of a recipe format is that modifying the solution or moving away from the detailed plan requires more experience and knowledge the further the reader departs from the given formula. Schroder has dealt with this issue in many chapters by giving instructions appropriate to Fedora and Debian. There are a couple exceptions to this which I will explain below.

I think that a strength of the book is that Schroder has not limited herself to desktop PC hardware. She is presenting a true overview of networking and so if the reader intends to work through every solution in the book, they are going to need to purchase some hardware. Some may object to this, and it is not absolutely necessary. Someone with enough experience or willing to do the research could shift things around and use say, an old desktop machine, but at that point they would be really doing things on their own and not needing the book.

There are 2 chapters that focus on building network devices with Pyramid Linux on a Single-Board computer. The hardware Schroder uses to write the solutions is a Soekris 4521, which retails for about $150. I think it is good that a person who might want to use this book knows that up front. To me, this is a much more economical solution than suggesting that one get their hands on a commercial device, and allows much more flexibility. Schroder could have shied away from asking for the reader to go to this step, but I think the choice reflects her commitment to making the book useful in real world situations.

The chapter on building an Asterisk VoIP system would probably also work best with some nice headphone/microphone sets that may be a necessary purchase for many. They are not required, a soundcard, microphone and speakers would work as well.

Having parallel solutions for Fedora and Debian side by side is very nice. After each solution there is also discussion of pertinent issues and reference to applicable resources. The other resources include pointing out appropriate man pages, web sites and other books. Schroder's style throughout is relaxed and very succinct. The nineteen chapters do cover such a wide array of technologies and issues, this book could easily be twice as large if she were wordy, instead it is very portable.

The chapters on network devices, routing, network monitoring and using linux to manage a network would be most valuable I think to network administrators or the person wearing that hat in a smaller shop. The chapters that revolve around connecting to systems remotely and using linux to manage windows machines could be a real boon to anyone who works in a mixed environment that includes more than just Linux machines. I've found all of it to be of value because I interact with all these pieces every day. It is nice to have a better grasp of how subnets are built and how routers work. I look forward to not relying on a gui or searching endless forums to get a good grasp on managing my iptables firewall.

Following the body, the book has three appendices. The first is a list of other resources. This is primarily other O'Reilly books, but there are books from other publishers and some resources available on the web. The second is a glossary of networking terms. The most useful to me was the third, a kernel building reference. I found the index to be decent. It isn't great, but it isn't bad either. The book comes with free access to it through Safari for 45 days, I thought that was a nice plus. O'Reilly has all of the examples available for download and the author's website is also a good launch point for related articles and information.

Slashdot often posts questions about Linux training. This book is a great way for the self learner to have a relatively unobtrusive guide while they gain direct experience in networking. Reading it alone wont do it, and there is still much to learn after completing each exercise, but a large part of the core competencies are there and thoroughly covered. I think there is also a lot here for that reader who has lobbied to get Linux in the door and now faces the task of getting their Linux machine to play nice with the rest of the network.

You can purchase Linux Networking Cookbook from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Linux Networking Cookbook

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  • So does it tell you how to get you linux box to gateway a wireless router to the internet via slow phone modem?
    • I don't know... but go away and look up DialD... there may be something better than this now, but DialD was certainly the best solution I found before I stopped doing this around 7 years ago!
    • by Intron (870560) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:49PM (#22070548)
      You want the ppp howto from 1997. See the sections on automating scripts and routing issues [tldp.org].
  • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan@jared.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:34PM (#22070334)
    The last time I followed advice from a cookbook I ended up in prison for three years. Anarchist's, Linux Networking... I don't care I'll never touch another cookbook again!
  • Or use the howto's (Score:3, Informative)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:49PM (#22070544) Homepage
    That is what they are for, and is where I went when I first learned to set up my network (dns, dhcp, ipchains later iptables, etc). The neat thing is you'll stumble across something cool that you might not have thought of before.

    http://tldp.org/ [tldp.org]

  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:50PM (#22070568)
    Sorry, this isn't meant as a personal shot at the reviewer or the book, but I just can't resist:

    As a dba, I'm constantly looking to learn more about networking and system administration.
    Our networking guy got busted watching 2 Girls 1 Cup last week and now I'm stuck pulling double duty while we look for a replacement.

    Both can have quite an impact on the performance of my piece of the puzzle.
    Look there's a reason I became a DBA, OK? I can barely calculate a subnet, let alone figure out how to get a new server up and running.

    A welcome addition to the materials to help me learn about networking is Carla Schroder's "Linux Networking Cookbook".
    So I went to Barnes and Noble over lunch and bought every damn computer book with an animal on it I could find, and then some.

    This book is just right for the person like myself who enjoys learning by getting hands-on experience with the technology.
    I lucked out with this one as it has lots of step-by-step examples for various tasks and commands.

    The scope is wide and so someone with a great depth of networking experience may find that the treatments of each is a bit shallow.
    I already said I was a noob, OK, cut me some slack!

    On the other hand, that wide scope means this book may hold something new, even for someone with some level of experience.
    But it saved my butt when the swap file partition took a crap yesterday, you could do worse.
    • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by techpawn (969834) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @04:09PM (#22070794) Journal

      Sorry, this isn't meant as a personal shot at the reviewer or the book, but I just can't resist:

      As a dba, I'm constantly looking to learn more about networking and system administration. Our networking guy got busted watching 2 Girls 1 Cup last week and now I'm stuck pulling double duty while we look for a replacement.
      Caught watching What? You know what? I don't want to know...

      Both can have quite an impact on the performance of my piece of the puzzle. Look there's a reason I became a DBA, OK? I can barely calculate a subnet, let alone figure out how to get a new server up and running.
      A DBA, as much as I hate to say it, has to be both a programmer and networking guy while being neither at the same time my friend. We can get away with not calculating subnets but we better be able to at least get the servers that our databases are running on back up and running on in case of hardware/network failure or be able to figure out that is IS hardware/network and not our database structures. Where I'm at now, they don't expect you to be a Rambo 1 man IT staff able to take on EVERYTHING, but you better be able to make the server run like it did before the problem if something REALLY bad happens.

      Nothing personal... Let's call it professional pride?
      • by Locomorto (925016)

        Caught watching What? You know what? I don't want to know...

        Well don't worry too much. Its shit. Quite literally.
    • by Seakip18 (1106315)
      Heh. Sounds more like snark than a shot at the reviewer. Either way, when you are a one-man wrecking/building machine, it helps the other, lesser, common men if you help sift through the crap.
    • by beatbox32 (325106)
      Our networking guy got busted watching 2 Girls 1 Cup last week and now I'm stuck pulling double duty while we look for a replacement.
      <immature>
      "2 Girls 1 Cup"..."double duty"... Ha!
      </immature>
    • I've been traveling the last 2 days and was without internet.
       
      Anyhow- just wanted to say that I thought that was hilarious.
  • in the story/review?

    Hmmm....
  • Yeah right (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As a dba, I'm constantly looking to lear
    I stopped reading there, this is written by a marketing type not a geek. And btw, what the hell is up with the vista-like 'click here to read 2 more comments' that's at the bottom of Slashdot these days? Trying to save bandwith on *text* ?
    • I'm an oracle dba - 10g RAC on AIX. I also look after SQL Server and MySQL databases. I run Linux at home and work. My machines at home I built myself. I love Star Trek, Star Wars and grew up on Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I write code for fun. I was vice president of the RPG club at my highschool one year. I would have been president but the other guy out rolled me for it. I have a couple blogs but slashdot is my primary hangout on the web. I have never, ever been a 'marketing type'. And I may not
  • Bonding? (Score:3, Informative)

    by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:57PM (#22072094) Journal
    I find that the more complicated Linux networking setups involve bonding, which is used in enterprise setups to allow you to both aggregate traffic across multiple ethernet links, and to provide automatic failover/failback in case one or more of those links go down.

    Is this covered in the book? A Linux networking book that doesn't cover bonding is pretty much worthless to me as a Linux system administrator.
    • by syzler (748241)
      A Linux networking book that doesn't cover bonding is pretty much worthless to me as a Linux system administrator.

      I would think most geeks do not have a hard time forming an emotional bind with their Linux boxes. If anything the book should cover how to avoid forming these bonds with our binary Goddesses, err, hardware.

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