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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

This month so many books have been released that it was difficult to choose which ones to review. Consequently, the selection ranges from AIX, file formats, and the Internet to a special section on O'Reilly's 4.4BSD collection. In addition to the 4.4BSD collection, the assortment this month includes: An AIX Companion, by David L. Cohn; Access the Internet!, by David Peal; Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats, by James D. Murray and William vanRyper; Internet CD, by Vivian Neou; Internetworking, by Colin Smythe; net.speak the internet dictionary, by Tom Fahey; and Finding It on the Internet, by Paul Gilster.

Several books that I have previously reviewed are now in their second edition. Although I cannot review them all, I am mentioning the second editions for your information. The newest books with revised editions include: All about Administering NIS+, by Rick Ramsey (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-309576-2, $42); Mastering Make, by Clovis Tondo, Andrew Nathanson, and Eden Yount (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-121906-5, $22); and Internetworking with TCP/IP, Volume II, by Douglas E. Comer and David L. Stevens (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-125527-4, $50). For Internet users, two books that have been modified to reflect current changes are: The Internet Navigator, by Paul Gilster (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-05260-4 $24.95), and The Internet Companion Plus by Tracy LaQuey (Addison-Wesley ISBN 0-201-40837-6 $19.95). Gilster revised his book extensively to keep pace with the changing Internet and includes a section on using FTP on Delphi. Tracy LaQuey's book has always been a favorite and just keeps improving while maintaining a size that fits handily next to my keyboard for rapid searches. UNIX Shell Programming, by Lowell Jay Arthur and Ted Burns (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-59941-7 $29.95), is in its third edition, and addresses the topic for the novice, experienced user, and system administrator using the Bourne, C, or Korn shells. It also explores the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the linkages between the shell and X Windows.

An AIX Companion
by David L. Cohn
Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-291220-1

This book provides an excellent introduction to the UNIX operating system, with a detailed focus on IBM's AIX version. Dr. Cohn carefully guides the PC manager through the knowledge necessary to become an AIX system manager. He assumes that the reader possesses a basic background in computing, whether or not UNIX or AIX related.

The book is organized in three sections: Using UNIX and AIX, Understanding UNIX and AIX, and Managing UNIX and AIX. In addition to setup and installation, the first section addresses basic AIX uses and introduces InfoExplorer, the AIX help utility, electronic mail, and the AIX implementation of devices. The second section includes operating system concepts, the AIX file system, processes, users and permissions, the INed editor, and UNIX utilities. The final section focuses on the more advanced concepts of shells, shell programming, system management, and networking. Three appendices contain the INed, telnet, and FTP commands and subcommands. Throughout the book, shaded sidebars address the reader informally.

To show how easily a PC user can become familiar with an AIX workstation, Cohn analyzes AIX's relationship to DOS, Windows, and the Macintosh operating system. He presents a mix of basic UNIX information and AIX-specific information, showing both what they share and how they differ. Numerous screen outputs, figures, flowcharts, tables, and diagrams supplement the text. However, the sidebars provide the most valuable information; in these, Cohn includes tips, bits of history, and some personal clarifications.

An AIX Companion was written by an entertaining and knowledgeable author. He presents the topics in a logical sequence, so that a PC user can understand the presentation easily. This book fills a void in the UNIX publishing world. Anyone involved with AIX can benefit from the material here.

Access the Internet!
by David Peal
Sybex Inc.
ISBN 0-7821-1529-2
Disk Included

Peal addresses the Internet, its utilities, and a way to access it easily. Netcom's NetCruiser software accompanies the text and provides all the tools necessary for surfing the Net, plus a Windows interface. In the introduction, the author enumerates the advantages of the NetCruiser software, explains the format and organization of the book, and discusses who the book will benefit.

Three special icons -- Tips, Notes, and Warnings -- denote different types of information about NetCruiser and are employed throughout the text. The audience can be novices, current Internet PC users, or experienced corporate users establishing a home Internet link. The inside front covers provide two different types of information. One shows a menu with various Internet capabilities, a brief description of some uses, and references to the chapter that describes each use. The second features five Internet utilities, the individual toolbars associated with each utility, their meanings, and a brief demonstration of how to use them.

In the first chapter, Peal examines the benefits of the NetCruiser software. (Installation and configuration instructions are presented in Appendix A; Appendix B explains how to keep both NetCruiser and Access the Internet! current.) Chapters 2 through 7 discuss the six major utilities used on the Internet: electronic mail, Usenet, Telnet, FTP (file transfer protocol), Gopher, and the World Wide Web. Peal itemizes the essential procedures associated with these tools, then covers some of their more informal aspects. These include a listing of some Usenet newsgroups (and a description of their participants), a definition of MUDs (multi-user dimensions) and some hints about them for the uninitiated, available online publications, education, i.e., learning C++ on the Internet, recipes, and one of my favorites, bringing art to the desktop (Monet is a favorite).

One of the most valuable chapters in the book concerns FTP. As I travel the Internet and online services, I find the bewilderment surrounding the downloading procedure astonishing. This topic generates more questions, confusion, problems, and genuine apprehension than any other feature. Peal explains the concept very logically, and details what kinds of files can be transferred and what tools the user needs to access them. A table shows file extensions, file types, and retrieval mode. The chapter also addresses file compression, downloading multiple files simultaneously, and practicing safe and nice (considerate) transfers.

With the software included with the book, a reader can access the Internet within minutes. The installation instructions are complete, easy to follow, and accurate. Netcom includes a free month of access and free updates via the Internet. The book can be maintained in the same manner. The disk is affixed to the book in such a way that the book is not damaged when you remove the disk. The book is well-written, nicely formatted for easy reading, and employs varied visual aids: figures, diagrams, tables, photographs, screen representations, icons, and shaded sidebars. A particular virtue is that Access the Internet! lets you quickly locate forgotten instructions while logged in to the Internet. Peal succeeds in both encouraging and enabling the reader to venture into cyberspace.

Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats
by James D. Murray and William vanRyper
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-058-9
CD-ROM Included

Almost all applications now uses some kind of graphics data. When a user works with more than one environment, the myriad formats often cause confusion and complications. Murray and vanRyper have produced a book for graphics programmers and application programmers who must occasionally become graphics specialists. The book consists of two parts: an overview and the graphics file formats.The overview covers computer graphics basics, bitmap and vector files, metafiles, platform dependencies, format conversions, data compression, and multimedia formats. The second part focuses on approximately 100 file formats; each entry contains classification data, an overview, and specific format details. The appendices furnish information pertaining to the CD-ROM, including how to use it for each platform, and supplementary online resources. A glossary explaining many graphics terms and acronyms is also provided. The CD-ROM contains software programs for MS-DOS, Windows, OS/2, UNIX, and Macintosh platforms.

Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats is an extremely well-written and thoroughly researched book. The logical clarity of the text reflects the expertise of the authors. This book fills a void and is the only book needed for graphics formats for every platform.

Internet CD
by Vivian Neou
SRI International
Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-123852-3
CD-ROM Included

The wealth of information about the Internet on this CD-ROM will interest even experienced users. It contains software products for Windows, DOS, and UNIX users, and explains how to install the CD-ROM and use the packages on it. The introduction (Chapter One) defines who the CD-ROM is for, the hardware requirements, the software included, the documentation, and how to find anything on the CD. One of the most valuable segments of the CD provides collections of Requests for Comments (RFCs), For Your Information (FYIs), Internet Experiment Notes (IENs), and networking mailing lists archives. These are indexed and the user can easily search for documents by using the IFIND program. Other software on the CD includes Eudora, an email package; Linux, which is 386/486 UNIX; Gopher, Telnet, INFOPOP and IPWIN, which furnish information about the Internet, FTP, UUPC, WAIS, Crynwr Packet Drivers, and Trumpet, shareware PC networking software.

The second chapter describes how to use the CD-ROM on your system, and how it is organized. Chapter Three briefly discusses the Internet and its utilities. Although the software on the CD-ROM is greater than the amount of text to explain it, Neou devotes two general chapters to using it: one explores the DOS and Windows software; the second, the UNIX programs. The remaining chapters address IFIND, Linux, UUPC (UUCP for PCs), and the PC Gopher III User's Manual. The four appendices furnish a glossary, a list of service providers with pertinent information, PC SLIP FAQ (by Ashok Aiyar), and a reference list of books pertaining to the Internet.

Neou's writing style is logical, clear, and straightforward. She uses figures and diagrams when applicable, but relies mainly on examples of screen output to ensure that the reader is using the tools correctly. As a reviewer, I am often asked for a good reference for RFCs. This is the book I now recommend.

by Colin Smythe

Internetworking is a means of keeping systems flexible enough to adopt to rapid technological change. Smythe's book tries to clarify several misconceptions about internetworking and to provide the reader with a better understanding of the theory of internetworking, the function(s) of its components, and its relationship to the Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model (OSI/RM).

Smythe begins by introducing current networking terms, then proceeds to describe the internetworking of local area networks. He addresses network architectures, protocols, the OSI reference model, local area networks, token ring LANs, established networks, network relays, repeaters, bridges, routers, gateways, network administration, internetwork design, and advanced network architectures. Smythe also discusses some conclusions on networking, internetworking, and the future.

Many tables and figures to augment the text. Each chapter provides both an introduction and a summary. Appendices include a bibliography, abbreviations, glossary, and standards referenced throughout the book. Some of the topics are complex, but Smythe's presentation makes them easy for the reader to follow. This is a well-written book, exemplifying the challenges facing today's network specialists.

net.speak the internet dictionary
by Tom Fahey
Edited by Ruffin Prevost
Hayden Books
ISBN 1-56830-095-6

Like other highly specialized systems, the Internet has its own acronyms and vocabulary. Here, however, the user also encounters a new etiquette (netiquette) and a form of shorthand, such as LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and RSN (Real Soon Now), that often appear in email messages or chat sessions. Emoticons combine characters to produce faces that can convey an emotion, :-& (tongue-tied), a habit :-? (pipe smoker), or a celebrity %-^ (Picasso) in an email message or chat session.

Fahey defines over 2,000 Internet terms in net.speak. Arranged in the normal A-Z dictionary format, the entries feature a brief description of the term, occasionally accompanied by its history. Some terms require a longer explanation, and diagrams or sketches demonstrate a concept when applicable, as with routing or LAN topologies. Tables present FTP commands, filename extensions, and gopher servers, while menu notations, commands, and some informative bits of Internet trivia are sprinkled throughout the book. TIPS discuss ways to economize time and money while on the Internet. For each time an Internet provider, available software, or service, mentioned, Fahey provides email, FTP, or gopher access information. Although the book is organized in alphabetical order, the first chapter, entitled "123," contains the entries which begin with a number, eliminating the guesswork usually associated with this type of entry.

This is an excellent book; its practical considerations merit the attention of every Internet and online service user. It complements other Internet books, and can be easily referenced and quickly read (for those embarrassing times when an acronym, emoticon, or command momentarily eludes the user). You will use it constantly for its terms, tricks, tips, and acronyms.

Finding It on the Internet The Essential Guide to archie, Veronica, Gopher, WAIS, WWW(Including Mosaic), and Other Search and Browsing Tools
by Paul Gilster
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN 0-471-03857-1

The first thing that impressed me as I opened this book was the inside cover, which displays common Internet search commands, including archie, Gopher, WAIS, and the World Wide Web. Individual chapters include "Internet Navigation Tools"; "archie: Finding Files"; "Gopher: Finding Resources by Menu"; "Veronica: Gopher as Search Engine"; "WAIS: Searching for Text"; "World Wide Web: Hypertext As Browsing Tool"; "HYTELNET: The Database on Your Computer"; "WHOIS, netfind, X.500: Finding People"; "E-Mail: Noninteractive Searching"; and "CNIDR: The Future of Internet Searching." With more people accessing the Internet, a little more confusion has been added, so that trying to find something or someone invites complications and frustration. This book attempts to simplify these problems.

Gilster describes some of the unknowns involved in searching: Is it real? Is it the most current release or a beta version? Is the information accurate? He then discusses the most popular methods for searching for data and demonstrates the proper procedures for finding answers. He begins with a brief discussion of each tool and its proper use. The different utilities perform related tasks in distinctive ways. Gilster examines how one tool works. He also discusses their separate origins and how each contributes to the Internet. The author shows those who only have e-mail access to the Internet how to conduct a search via electronic mail. He also illustrates the eccentricities of each utility through sample searches.

Finding It on the Internet impressively answers one of the most frequently asked Internet questions, "How can I find ..?"

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

The 4.4BSD-Lite, distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group of the University of California at Berkeley, the Usenix Association, and O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., is available directly from O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. as sets (Volumes 1-5 plus the CD-ROM ISBN 1-56592-081-1 $150.00; Volumes 1-5 only ISBN 1-56592-077-5, $120.00) or individually from your local bookseller.

4.4BSD-Lite CD-ROM Companion
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-081-3

The CD-ROM includes the source code, manual pages, and other documentation relating to 4.4BSD-Lite. It does not provide any program binaries. Although it has been named "Lite," it contains approximately 95 percent of the utilities in 4.4BSD and almost all of the files from the kernel. The accompanying text describes an overview of 4.4BSD-Lite, the CD-ROM source hierarchy, an Introduction, List of Manual Pages, and a Permuted Index.

4.4BSD System Manager's Manual
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-080-5

The System Manager's Manual presents a short introduction, list of manual pages, and the permuted index. It also contains the manual pages for commands specific to system administration, plus the documentation written for system administrators. On the inside back cover of each volume is a listing of the UNIX documents and the volume they are included in.

4.4BSD Programmer's Reference Manual
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-078-3

The Programmer's Reference Manual contains four sections of man pages: UNIX system calls, C Library Subroutines, Special Files (device interfaces), and File Formats. Prior to third-party documentation, these pages were the singular source for many commands. Often belittled for being too succinct, these pages established a uniform standard for documentation and, in many cases, remain the best resource for quick and easy references. This volume is not completely 4.4BSD specific, and can be used with many other UNIX implementations.

4.4BSD Programmer's Supplementary Documents
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-079-1

This volume complements The Programmer's Reference Manual. It presents the technical papers originally used to learn many of the UNIX utilities. (This UNIX user vividly recalls using the curses technical paper to learn about screen management.) It also contains some historical documents, including the original paper, "The UNIX Time-Sharing System," by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, and "UNIX Programming -- Second Edition," by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie. (I now remember how I became good at reading and understanding abstracts and technical papers.) The most recent addition is a two-part tutorial on 4.4BSD Interprocess Communication (IPC).

4.4BSD User's Reference Manual
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-075-9

The man pages sections for the User's Reference Manual feature helpful guides to the 4.4BSD user programs, games, and miscellaneous information. The last division primarily describes the text processing information used by UNIX. This manual also applies to other UNIX implementations. I opened it randomly and happened to find the vi pages. I had forgotten just how straightforward the man pages format is. Within a few pages, all of the vi commands were listed, including the options, their results, and the commands and options specific to the ex and view editors. The reference manuals provide a simple and direct resource for users, programmers, and system administrators.

4.4BSD User's Supplementary Documents
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-076-7

User's Supplementary Documents includes technical papers on Getting Started, Basic Utilities, Communicating with the World, Text Editing, Document Preparation, and Amusements. Getting Started contains UNIX for Beginners - Second Edition and the computer program Learn. The Basic Utilities examine the UNIX shell, the C shell, and the two calculators DC and BC. Communicating with the World describes the Mail Reference Manual and The Rand MH Message Handling System. The Text Editing segment features documents on ed, vi, ex, Jove, SED, and AWK. Document Preparation inspects the nroff, troff, eqn, tbl, refer, BIB, STYLE, and DICTION tools. Amusements concludes with "A Guide to the Dungeons of Doom," an introduction to the fantasy game "rogue," and Star Trek documentation.

About the Author

Elizabeth Zinkann has been involved in the UNIX and C environments for the past 11 years. She is currently a UNIX and C consultant, and one of her specialities is UNIX education. In addition to her computer science background, she also has a degree in English. Elizabeth can be reached via CompuServe at 71603,2201 (Internet format:, or via America Online (