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Search in Book Reviews

The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
The Networking CD Bookshelf
Author:
various
ISBN:
1 56592 523 8
Publisher:
O'Reilly
Pages:
CD +book
Price:
£53-50
Reviewer:
Adrian Wontroba
Subject:
networks; unix
Appeared in:
12-1

The package:

A CD, containing:

  • HTML versions of these books:
  • DNS&BIND, 3rd edition, also included in paper form.
  • TCP/IP Network Administration, 2nd edition.
  • sendmail, 2nd edition.
  • sendmail Desktop Reference.
  • Building Internet Firewalls.
  • Practical UNIX&Internet Security, 2nd edition.
  • A java search engine.
  • Windows run time support.
  • Compiled java run time engines for FreeBSD, HP-UX 10.20, HP-UX 11,Linux with glibc, Linux with libc5, Solaris 2.4-2.6 for SPARC, Solaris 2.5-2.6 for x86 and SunOS 4.1.3. There is a link to a source of JREs for other environments.

The licence

Very clearly, one use of the CD at a time. You are not permitted to mount the CD on, or copy the contents to, a network server. Multiple licenses appear to be available.

The technology

General

Works!

Under Windows 98 with IE4, the CD auto-runs.

Under UNIX it is necessary to explicitly start the search engine and close it down after use. There is a small installation step which copies files to /tmp (by default) which you may have to repeat. I chose to use the JDK I have installed, rather than use the FreeBSD JRE on the CD, with Netscape Communicator 4.61 and Lynx Version 2.8.1rel.1.

I've not tried any other platforms.

Structure

The top page provides links to the top page of each book (as text and images), access to the search engine (for the entire bookshelf) and to a combined index.

The top page of each book provides access to the search engine and index for the book and a table of contents linking to each chapter and appendix.

Each chapter starts with links to each of its sections.

Every page is headed with the title (which links to the top page), a link to the search engine and previous and next links. Footers contain links to the previous and next pages, the book index, the library home and the other books in the library. In-text links are usually references to figures or other sections. In general, each page corresponds to a section.

Indexes

These are comprehensive. They would have been even more useful if they linked to the words or relevant subsections rather than to pages (sections). Some of the sendmail sections are very long.

Search Engine

This has few frills - enter substrings to search for, with boolean operators. Output is in the form of pages of hits, with the link anchors giving chapter, section number and heading. There is an option to display the starting score or some words of the section. Following the link takes you to a modified version of the page, where the search strings are coloured and made larger.

This, along with the indices, gives an effective way of finding particular topics.

The Books

I believe that all of these have been reviewed in past editions of the newsletter, so these reviews will be very short. All of the books, with the exception of the sendmail Desktop Reference are, in my opinion, extremely useful if you are doing any work in their subject areas. All are written by real experts. Classics or bibles, as you will. Most have a strong UNIX slant.

For those of you reading the web version of this review, the titles below are links to the catalogue entries for the books on O'Reilly's web site (http://www.oreilly.com/). If you drill down a bit you'll find other reviews and, in some cases, sample chapters. In passing, aside from containing a vast amount of information about their products, O'Reilly's site also contains some entire books. Browsing about, I've so far found two entire books and a work in progress.

DNS and BIND, 3rd edition

DNS and Bind (2ed)(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/dns3/noframes.html) All you ever needed to know about the Domain Name Service and the Berkeley Internet Name Domain software. Covers BIND 8.1.2 and 4.9.

TCP/IP Network Administration, 2nd Edition

TCP/IP Network Administration 2ed(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/tcp2/noframes.html) Nowadays the premier inter machine communication protocol. This book explains how it works, how to configure machines for it, how to start troubleshooting, etc.

sendmail

Sendmail (2ed)(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/sendmail/noframes.html) Contains more than I ever wanted to know concerning, but then had to find out about, sendmail configuration.

sendmail Desktop Reference

(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/sendmailqr/noframes.html) A small companion volume containing reference material from and references to the sendmail book. It is a pity that the references are not actually links. In paper form it is a very useful adjunct to a paper copy of the main book.

Building Internet Firewalls

(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/fire/noframes.html) The philosophy and detailed concepts in constructing computer systems which keep intruders out (and sometimes inmates in). Concentrates on the 'whys' rather than explaining precisely how to configure specific tools.

Practical UNIX&Internet Security, 2nd Edition

Practical Unix&Internet Security(http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/puis/noframes.html) How to make the most of UNIX's security facilities.

Overall Impressions

  • A cost and space effective way of having a lot of good networking information available.
  • Very good for looking things up.
  • Not so good for serially reading. Especially in bed.
  • I like the concept and have bought the UNIX and Perl bookshelves. I hope O'Reilly produce an Oracle bookshelf soon.
  • The CD, ignoring the JREs, contains less than 55 MB of data. There would be scope for including many more titles on the CD. However, the inevitable increase in cost might well reduce sales.
This review was written for the UK Unix User Grouphttp://www.ukuug.org/and is reproduced with their permission.