Book Review: Ethernet - The Definitive Guide

Ethernet technology is ubiquitous across the modern business environment. In-depth knowledge of the theory behind the acronyms is...

Ethernet technology is ubiquitous across the modern business environment. In-depth knowledge of the theory behind the acronyms is essential for stability and growth

Ethernet: The Definitive Guide

By Charles E. Spurgeon

Published by O'Reilly & Associates

First Edition - February 2000

" Ethernet has been the core networking technology since the early 1980s, and is used by every high-tech business. While the basic protocols have changed little, new options such as Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet have increased the complexity of the topic. Ethernet: The Definitive Guide, provides everything you need to know about setting up and managing an Ethernet network." Back cover text

At 500 pages, Ethernet: The Definitive Guide is pretty comprehensive. It is broken up into five main sections to include an introduction, systems overview, guidance on building a network, troubleshooting and a comprehensive glossary. Each section assumes that the reader has a basic knowledge of computing but has no experience of networking. As such, the book gradually guides the reader from the simplest OSI seven-layer model to advanced troubleshooting techniques.

It is aimed at readers looking for an authoritative reference guide, and as such avoids mentioning individual products or market trends. However, this is a double-edged sword. The book focuses more on essential theory, making the information relevant across most manufacturers' kit. This means that the book dates less quickly. However, hot topics such as voice over IP or data prioritisation are only skimmed across.

In the early 1980s, author Charles E. Spurgeon was part of the team that invented the standalone network router on which today's modern routers are based. In his 20 years at the cutting edge of network technology, he has worked for both Stanford and Texas Universities, developing large campus networks. His proximity to academia is evident in the book, which is sometimes quite dry. However, Spurgeon occasionally uses real world examples to illustrate a point instead of jargon, which improves the readability of the more technical chapters. The book is light on illustrations, although the few included are clear and concise.

It is clear that the author is a fan of Ethernet as the networking methodology of choice, and this comes through in the text. His enthusiasm and knowledge make this book a good addition to a reference library or as part of a computer science degree. Unlike many computer books, O'Reilly & Associates has decided not to do a straight dollar to pound conversion, so at £30, it's a bit of a bargain.

Will Garside

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