review of Comer TCP/IP book

Barry Shein (
Sat, 9 Jul 88 20:58:57 EDT

Although I might be a tad unobjective I think people are missing the
point (especially when I see people who have already done TCP/IP ports
or otherwise dealt with networks in hand to hand combat say the book
wasn't of total use to them.)

Hang around the hallways of the ACE conference and listen to folks who
came because they don't know a TCP from a UDP and have no mental model
to begin to understand such things (typically their problem is that
they don't know where the software/hardware boundaries are, which is
not surprising if you think about it), or deal with students in a
systems course (like one I teach here) trying to understand what all
the fuss is about and missing the point repeatedly, or do consulting
for a firm just getting into networking and try to just "quickly" go
over how a network works and why they need these pieces and
sophisticated consultants to design it and piece it together (um, why
can't we just PLUG ONE a disk or something...well, I agree,
but it ain't so, yet, at least not if you want more than an office or
two hooked together.)

If you think any of those folks can't benefit greatly from going thru
Doug's book (and, conversely, could much benefit from a stack of RFC's
plopped in front of them) then I think you're out of touch with his
likely customers. And there's plenty in there to fill most "guru's"
holes also (I freely admit there's more in there on EGP than I've had
the time or patience to educate myself on, hey, we all have limits.)

There's two necessary things to education: First, to provide the right
questions, second, to provide the answers to those questions. I think
Doug's book goes a lot further in providing the first part (the
questions, the model to investigate, the motivations) than anything
else I've seen thus far on Internetworking, and plenty far enough on
part two (the answers) for a person to thereafter find their own way,
at least after going thru the book they might think to ASK for an RFC.

Beyond that, it's nice to know that it won't be the last book on

        -Barry Shein, Boston University

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