Charles Spurgeon (spurgeon@jessica.Stanford.EDU)
3 Jun 1988 1131-PDT (Friday)
This is a good general introduction to the concepts and technologies of
LANs. As stated in the preface:
" This book is intended for students, computer system managers,
telecommunications managers, and others who want to become more familiar
with local area networks. Since product offerings in this area are
constantly changing, a deliberate attempt has been made to emphasize the
general principles, operating characteristics, and problem areas of local
area network hardware, rather than cite specific product examples."
Of special note is the chapter on "Administrative considerations for large
networks" which is largely taken from David Clark's 1983 "M.I.T. Campus
Network Implementation Planning Document". This chapter mentions many of
the problems of supporting large campus area networks with special reference
to the issue of multiple protocol support on campus backbone networks.
-- Two books by Douglas Comer --
Douglas Comer has written two books of special interest to the networker.
His books are comprehensive and he has an excellent writing style, making
these the best books I've seen on the TCP/IP protocols.
2. "Internetworking With TCP/IP, Principles, Protocols, and Architecture". By
Douglas E. Comer. 1988, 382pps with index and glossary. Prentice-Hall,
Inc., New Jersey, ISBN 0-13-470154-2. $36.00. (Stanford Bookstore price.)
As stated in the preface:
"For professionals, the book provides a comprehensive introduction to TCP/IP
technology and the architecture of the Internet. Although it is not
intended to replace protocol standards, the book is a good starting point
for learning about internetworking because it gives a uniform overview that
emphasizes principles. Moreover, it gives the reader perspective that can
be extremely difficult to obtain from individual protocol documents."
"The book is organized into four main parts. Chapters 1 and 2 form an
introduction that provides an overview and discusses existing technologies.
In particular, Chapter 2 reviews physical network hardware. The intention
is to provide basic intuition about what is possible, not to spend
inordinate time on hardware details. Chapters 3-12 describe the TCP/IP
Internet from the viewpoint of a single host, showing the basic services
available and the protocols a host uses to access them. They cover the
basics of Internet addressing and routing as well as the notion of protocol
layering. Chapters 13-16 describe the architecture of the Internet when
viewed globally. They explore the core gateway system and the protocols
gateways use to exchange routing information. Finally, Chapters 17-19
discuss application level services available in the Internet. They present
the client-server model of interaction and give several examples of how one
can organize client and server software. The last section discusses
electronic mail and the domain name system, two topics that are extremely
I particularly like the real-world orientation of this book. For instance,
there is an appendix on "4.3 BSD UNIX Interface to Internet Protocols" that
describes Berkeley sockets and presents example client and server programs
for a network whois service. There's another appendix on "Hints And
Suggestions For Implementors" full of useful tips for network programmers.
And there's a nice appendix called "A Guide To RFCs" which explains the
Requests For Comments completely and with due regard for the early folklore
and development of the ARPAnet. A guide to the first one thousand RFCs,
extracted from RFC1000, is presented as well as electronic and snail mail
addresses for getting your own copies of the RFCs.
3. "Operating System Design - Volume II, Internetworking with Xinu". By
Douglas Comer. 1987, 5667pps with index. Published by Prentice-Hall, Inc.,
New Jersey, ISBN 0-13-637414-X. $39.33. (Stanford Bookstore price.)
As stated in the preface:
"Chapters 1-11 comprise a self-contained unit that covers the basics of
internet communication. Each of the eleven chapters explores one component
of internet protocol software, motivating and explaining how that component
fits into the overall system design. The unit starts with a detailed
examination of one network technology, the Ethernet, and moves on to
consider the internet concept, address resolution, internet datagrams,
routing, control messages, user datagrams, and datagram demultiplexing.
Later chapters build on the basic communication system, examining
client-server interaction, and remote file access, as well as a user
interface and commands that manipulate both local and remote files."
"Written as a continuation of 'Operating System Design - The XINU Approach'
(Comer ), this text starts where the earlier one ends. The two
volumes were written to support a two-semester course in systems design that
encompasses operating systems and networks... ."
This book is based on the XINU operating system software which is available
from Purdue University as described in the book. XINU was written to give
students the experience of studying a UNIX-like operating system whose
source code was available for modification. Lots of software examples in
every chapter make this an especially useful text for aspiring network
programmers. It's also good resource for those just curious as to what
network software looks like and how it fits together.
-- Three books by William Stallings --
William Stallings has published a series of three books that can be helpful
in hacking one's way through the jargon laden jungles of network standards -
especially the OSI and IEEE standards.
4. "Volume 1. Handbook of Computer Communications Standards, The Open Systems
Interconnection (OSI) Model and OSI-Related Standards". By William Stallings.
1987, 322pps with index. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY, ISBN 0-02-948071-X.
The first volume sets the stage by explaining the OSI standards effort and
the organization of the OSI standards process. The OSI reference model is
then presented, and each layer is discussed in depth with lots of detail.
OSI is a moving target, and some of the material here is no doubt already
dated, but it's still a good explanation of the whole OSI world.
5. "Volume 2. Handbook of Computer Communications Standards, Local Network
Standards". By William Stallings. 1987, 244pps with index. Macmillan
Publishing Co,, NY, ISBN 0-02-948070-1. $34.95.
This book covers the IEEE 802 series of standards and the emerging FDDI
standard. The material described here makes it possible to decipher the
802.3 standard. After a brief introduction covering network topologies and
media, Stallings explains the standardization efforts, including the
structure of the standards committees and how the various standards agencies
Next the IEEE 802 standards structure is described, with the various
subsets explained. Chapter 4 describes the 802.3 standard including
variants such as 10BASE2. Also included is a brief description of the major
differences between 802.3 and DIX Ethernet. An appendix provides a short
introduction to the OSI reference model, so that you don't need volume 1 to
figure out volume 2.
6. "Volume 3. Handbook of Computer Communications Standards, Department of
Defense (DOD) Protocol Standards". By William Stallings, Paul Mockapetris,
Sue McLeod and Tony Michel, 1988, 206pps with index. Macmillan Publishing
Co., NY, ISBN 0-02-948072-8. $34.95.
This volume is a guide to the TCP/IP protocol suite. As stated in the
"...Volume 3, covers the five military standard protocols that have been
issued by the DOD. The book begins by introducing the four layer
communications architecture that is the framework within which these
standards fit. Following the introduction of this architecture, a chapter
is devoted to each of the standards."
"In contrast with the other books in this series, several of the chapters of
this book were written by contributors. Each contributor is intimately
familiar with the topic under discussion: biographies of the main author and
the contributing authors are found at the end of the book."
The chapters on IP and TCP appear to have been written by Stallings. The
chapter on FTP is by Tony Michel, the SMTP chapter by Paul Mockapetris and
the Telnet chapter by Sue McLeod. The chapters are good descriptions of the
various protocols. On the other hand, I prefer Douglas Comer's book, for
reasons given above.
-- Ethernet Standards --
The next several items deal with the various Ethernet standards in use
7. "Ethernet Local Area Network Specification Version 2.0. November, 1982".
103pps, $32.00. DEC Part Number: AA-K759B-TK. Available from DEC-Direct by
This is version 2 of the original ten megabit Ethernet specification. The
newer 802.3 standard supersedes the DEC-Intel-Xerox (DIX) spec listed here,
but most TCP/IP implementations are still based on this DIX specification.
Since this specification is not based on the OSI model it is relatively
jargon free and reads like something close to English, making it a much more
approachable document than the IEEE standards.
8. "Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection, ANSI/IEEE Std
802.3, 1985, ISO/DIS 8802/3". ISBN 0-471-82749-5. Available from, IEEE
Service Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, or by calling
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