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Interconnections 22

If your life is an acronym soup of protocols like IPX and CLNP, and you sometimes feel like you need a cot in the wiring closet, you probably ought to keep reading -- more so if finding a fount of information neither too abstruse nor too patronizing is important. For the networking professional, inveterate reader and reviewer Danny Yee here briefly takes on a book called Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking, which could be that fount.

author Radia Perlman
pages 537
publisher Addison-Wesley
rating 8.5
reviewer Danny Yee
ISBN 0-201-63448-1
summary Well-grounded introduction for the technically astute to the hardware which carries your data and how to communicate with it.
Interconnections is aimed at computer science students studying networking: it covers fundamental concepts and basic theory, and includes a set of "homework" problems with each chapter. But it is solidly grounded in real-life experience -- Perlman has spent years designing and implementing network protocols and algorithms (most notably the spanning tree algorithm used in most bridges) and uses that experience to provide practical illustrations of the theory. She is also fun to read, being prepared to laugh at things that deserve it and to offer personal opinions, sometimes quite bluntly.
"I find BGP scary. It is configuration-intensive. Routes can be permanently unstable. It solves only whatever it happens to solve rather than providing a general-purpose solution. But we're stuck with it."

Perlman roughly follows the protocol stack upwards. Four chapters cover general data-link layer issues, transparent and source-routing bridges, the various categories of hub/switch/bridge, and VLANs. Five chapters cover the network layer cover connection-oriented protocols (X25 and ATM) and general issues, addressing, and packet formats in connectionless networks, with examples from a range of protocols including IP, IPX, IPv6, CLNP, Appletalk, and DECnet. A single chapter covers autoconfiguration and endnode issues (protocols such as ARP). And there are five chapters on routing, covering general routing concepts (distance vector and link state algorithms, link costs and types of service), implementation (algorithms for fast packet forwarding), and specific routing protocols (from RIP to BGP), as well as the more specialised topics of WAN multicast and "sabotage-proof routing."

The bulk of Interconnections may be too detailed for most network administrators or programmers, but those without an interest in the theory may want to track down a copy just for the last two chapters. "To Route, Bridge, or Switch: Is That the Question?" is a good overview of networking terminology and its connection with reality, while "Protocol Design Folklore" attempts

"to capture the tricks and 'gotchas' in protocol design learned from years of layer 2 and layer 3 protocols. Interspersed among the text are boxes containing 'real-world bad protocols.' They share with you the warped way I look at the world, which is to notice and be distracted by suboptimal protocols in everyday life."
Interconnections will do much to improve understanding of networks and network protocols: as well as being an excellent textbook, it should command a general audience among computing professionals.

Purchase this book from Fatbrain. You can read more of Danny Yee's reviews at his site.

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Networking book

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  • Sounds just like the CCNA material I am reading from Cisco Press. Mmmmm good schtuff. http://www.absolutesnowboarding.com
  • You can find where to get it here

    Interconnections [pricegrabber.com]

    Disclaimer: I work there...

  • Apologies for being a little off-topic..
    The only place I've encountered CLNP is in X.25 headers for Eftpos-related transactions. Now, in my country there are only a handful of us that work technically in this field, and I'd be interested to correspond with some overseas Eftpos/etc. workers. Anyone?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Every GD trite, irrelevant AC post on this thread has been modded down to (score:-1, idiot moderator wasting points that should be used to mod up).
    I'm sure this post will be next.
    Moderators : Here's an idea, howzabout leaving AC posts at 0 which is below the default threashold anyhow alone and use your mod points to push the good posts up where people browsing above 0 will see them.
    There's more first posters and trolls than there are mod points, so if you're modding down (score: 0)'s, you're wasting your point.

    Annonymous Coward -- "Up, dammit, mod up"
  • Will this book tell me what those two four-pairs coming into my wiring closet are?

    You mean the Eschelon Drop? We don't like to talk about that ...

  • At the risk of being a bore, I also have to say this is one of the best networking books I have ever read, or owned. It is comprehensive without being boring and stuffy. Ms. Perlman's book is may I dare to say, fun to read. Guess Im a sick geek bastard.

  • And they're goddam politically-correct prudes, too:

    Re:radia is cool
    (Score:0, Offtopic)

    by Xenix on 9:28 Thursday 16 November 2000 PDT (User #232152 Info)

    Yeah and she is a hottie...great rack and an apple ass.


    Christ! what a bunch of woosies!

    (and they're wussies too...)

    This is the comment-of-the-week!

    I think not; therefore I ain't®

  • Seeing as this is probably one of the *most* nebulous areas of networking, whilst being actually fairly comprehensible, one might think that more folks would find it interesting.
    I know I do!
    Geez.. It has it all! Set theory, computational theory, topology, physics..
    Oh GAWD!
    (Not kidding, BTW)
    Well, you know what's next..
    (If she's actually hot, it'd be all that much more ermm.. fulfilling..)

  • http://www.mysimon.com has it as cheap as $41.50 or so..
  • I'm so happy! I have both of these books on my desk!

    Of course, I haven't read them yet... Does that still count?

  • Wrong, Mr. Smug: IPX and CLPN are Initialisms.
  • If they're each 4-pairs, they're not Ameritech lines, no matter how they're labeled.

    DS0, DS1, ISDN, POTS, xDSL and every other Telco provided copper service arrives at the premisis on either a single pair or two pair, never four.

    Take a volt meter to the blue/wht-blue pair, and the orange/wht-orange pair and see if you have measurable DC voltage. If you do its a POTS line that some yahoo extended with CAT-3/5 internally. If it has no voltage at all, its probably either Ethernet (NO DC voltage) or dead.
  • having attended her lecture at interop (many years ago) when she covered the material in her book, I can only say that you must hear her speak in person. she's intelligent and funny and keeps you interested in what can be a very dry subject.

    plus she invented spanning tree which is still in use today. took some really cool insight to come up with the notion of logical bridge tree hierarchies where, physically, this isn't so obvious to most. and its still in use today, all these years later..


  • I bought this book about a month ago for work and found it to be an excellent overview and guide. The author does an excellent job of talking about actual routing situations, not just theoretical concepts of different issues.
  • yeah :) just ask yourself:
  • Will this book tell me what those two four-pairs coming into my wiring closet are? Ameritech couldn't, and the lines are labeled Ameritech.
  • I for one have taken a computer networking course, and I don't find the terms to be terrible confusing... though that could be because I've been exposed to them before, and in the past. I'm not coming into them as something new. I kinda feel though like it's not so important to know the terms as how things work. However, I don't think teachers agree with this thinking =)

  • by Mignon ( 34109 ) <satan@programmer.net> on Thursday November 16, 2000 @06:32AM (#619889)
    Just plug them pair-wise into an AC outlet and then call Ameritech and ask them if they smell smoke.
  • by Anne Marie ( 239347 ) on Thursday November 16, 2000 @06:47AM (#619890)
    A good companion book to Perlman's Interconnections, and indeed the only other significant work on the subject, is Routing in Today's Internetworks, by Mark Dickie. It's based on the OSI reference manual and it explores routing protocols starting with the very basic and working up to the advanced: IS-IS, NetWare Link Services Protocol (NLSP). RIP, DRP, ES-IS, IPX, SAP, and AppleTalk DDP, PTM, AURP, etc. If Perlman's book is as lucid as Dickie's, then I'll consider adding it to my library.
  • I very much recommend this book as well. It's standard issue if you work at Cisco!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Even though I can comprehend a fraction of the material in Interconnections I honestly enjoy this book. Radia Perlman is a very clever woman. She has invented Spanning Bridge Algorithm as well as IS-IS link-state routing protocol. IS-IS is regarded as vastly superior to its junior sibling, OSPF by the routing protocol cognoscenti. IS-IS is used by major ISPs, not little drones running Cisco 2501 routers. Interconnections book is not just about networking engineering but about good engineering practices in general. Case in point, the book's cover. It prominently displays 'Second Edition' and a picture of the bridge, which is apt for a book about bridging. But, it is no ordinary bridge, but one fabled in the annals of engineering science. It is the Second Edition of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. If you dont know what happened to the First Edition of the same you never took Physics 101.
  • by Score 0 ( 215860 ) on Thursday November 16, 2000 @06:51AM (#619893)
    In the past 10 years, I have worked for 2 of the top 10 networking companys and have interviewed at most of the others. I've noticed that in 9 out of 10 engineer's cubes you will find this book along with Internetworking with TCP/IP vol 1 by Douglas Comer. If the people designing your networking equipment swear by it, you can't go wrong.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.