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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

As usual, I've received too many books to include them all (some will appear in the next issue), but I have attempted to offer a variety. The books about the Internet are getting more specialized. Therefore, there are several different approaches represented. Jason J. Manger's The Essential Internet Information Guide, published by McGraw-Hill, London, provides an international touch, with examples drawn both from the United States and the United Kingdom. The Net after Dark: The Underground Guide to the Coolest, the Newest, and the Most Bizarre Hangouts on the Internet, CompuServe, AOL, Delphi, and More, by Lamont Wood, offers a lighter approach to Internet information. Managing Internet Informations Services, by Cricket Liu, Jerry Peek, Russ Jones, Bryan Buus, and Adrian Nye, is intended for UNIX system administrators. Low-Cost E-Mail with UUCP: Integrating UNIX, DOS, Windows, and Mac, by Thomas Wm. Madron, addresses the high cost of electronic mail and provides a solution for a multi-platform environment. The Mosaic Handbook comes in three flavors: X Window, Microsoft Windows, and Macintosh. Dale Dougherty and Richard Koman co-authored all three, with Paula Ferguson joining them for the X Window version. The final book, Inside UNIX, by Chris Hare, Emmett Dulaney, George Eckel, Steven Lee, and Lee Ray, was written for the intermediate UNIX user and the beginning system administrator, an often overlooked audience. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.

The Essential Internet Information Guide
by Jason J. Manger
McGraw-Hill Book Company
ISBN 0-07-707905-1

Jason Manger's book helps readers understand what they really need to know in order to use the Internet. Manger begins by detailing the essential design of the Internet, then goes on to analyze the needs of the typical user. He concludes that the user requires three tools: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), to download files; telnet, to interactively examine databases; and electronic mail (email), to communicate. He also recommends learning a newsreader, but classifies this as optional.

Manger does not ignore the other Internet utilities; he merely prioritizes them differently. Following the introduction, he presents chapters on USENET, FTP, Archie, telnet, UNIX-related tools, compressed files, images, finding information, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and electronic mail. The appendices, which alone would merit the reader's attention, include an alphabetical glossary, a list of Internet service providers, questions and answers, an alphabetical resource guide, anonymous FTP listings, Internet domains, country codes and hostname details, and USENET group listings.

Manger addresses each topic from an international perspective, providing examples from the United Kingdom as well as from the United States. His examples demonstrate not only how other countries access the Internet, but also how to communicate with users in other countries.

Coverage in the book is both broad and detailed. The chapter on USENET, for example, not only describes how to use it, but also discusses the USENET hierarchy, news distribution, decoding binary messages (which include images, sounds, and programs), encrypted messages (ROT 13), and Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), which allows users with telnet to read messages from USENET groups without the aid of a newsreader. Two chapters that are not necessarily found in every Internet book deal with data compression and images. The chapter on compressed files explores the different compression formats, common problems, how to find the compression/decompression utilities, and the tools necessary for decompression on miscellaneous platforms. The image manipulation chapter focuses on the different image formats and their respective encoding procedures, how to retrieve or post images on USENET, common image questions, locating image-processing utilities, and finding FTP imaging archives.

The two concluding chapters describe Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and email. The IRC chapter explains how to use an IRC server via telnet and where to procure IRC information and software, then lists the IRC commands and illustrates their applications. Although the chapter on email is based on the UNIX mail system, most of the information applies to all email systems and the author presents some valid questions and solutions regarding email security.

This book is a well-organized an exceptionally informative Internet resource. The author explicitly itemizes what he will explain in each chapter and proceeds to do it. He presents shortcut solutions as hints and tips and uses figures, tables, and typical messages to support his explanations. Many of the chapters address familiar Internet topics from a new perspective or offer little-known facts about them (I particularly appreciated the additional information included in the international examples). Manger's extensive knowledge and lucid presentation make this a truly useful book for serious users.

The Net After Dark: The Underground Guide to the Coolest, the Newest, and the Most Bizarre Hangouts on the Internet, CompuServe, AOL, Delphi, and More
by Lamont Wood
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN 0-471-10347-0

For those online users who are either insomniacs or night owls, this book was written expressly for you. A warning, however: it may exacerbate your condition significantly (I speak from experience regarding this). Certain sections of online services become alive after a certain hour and many merit investigation. In his introduction, Wood explains the symbols used throughout the book to help the reader avoid places he or she really would not want to visit.

The first chapter investigates What's Out There, Files (Graphic, Text, Software, and Data), File Compression (the various compression methods and their respective extensions), and important facts about downloading and electronic mail, as well as behaviors and what practices to avoid online. Subsequent chapters include the Layout of the Net, Artificial Intelligence, Multimedia, Virtual Reality, Science Fiction, Humor, Cyberpunk, Mondo Software Stashes, Games and MUDs, Chatting, NetSex, Net Fringes: UFOs, Alien Possession, Dark Conspiracies, and Other Madness, Commercial Services, BBS and Echo Networks, and The Internet.Each chapter contains a description of the respective topic, the jargon used with it, file extensions and their definitions, and where to find files, utilities, and newsgroups related to the topic.

Reproductions of photgraphs and art available online appear throughout the book, as do sidebars entitled either Saving Face (don't embarrass yourself) or Check This Out (tips on what exists and where to find it). This is a light, but enjoyable and informative book.

Managing Internet Information Services
by Cricket Liu, Jerry Peek, Russ Jones, Bryan Buus, and Adrian Nye
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-062-7

This Internet book was written for system administrators and those who want to provide Internet services, but lack the knowledge. As the preface states: "This book explains how to plan, set up and manage a complete array of Internet services including an FTP archive, a Gopher server, a WAIS (Wide Area Information Server, a World Wide Web (WWW) Server, and electronic mailing lists." Managing Internet Information Services does not explain how to use the different Internet services; it assumes a fairly extensive knowledge of those services and their respective uses.

The examples in the book are drawn from the authors' work with the Species Survival Commission (SSC), part of the World Conservation Union. (Regular O'Reilly customers may recognize the SSC for its efforts to save the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, currently on the cover of the lex and yacc Nutshell Handbook. For additional information concerning this project, please email

Two introductory chapters discuss the concepts implemented in an information server, such as client/server and TCP/IP, and provide a brief synopsis of the Internet services from a provider's viewpoint. Chapter two also considers the purposes of each service and the resources necessary to begin and maintain an information service. Chapter three explores three services: finger, inetd, and telnet. The rest of the book illustrates how to set up and maintain the FTP, WAIS databases, Gopher, the World Wide Web, and electronic mail services. The concluding chapters contain essential information regarding Firewalls and Information Services, Legal Matters, and Protecting Intellectual Property. Chapters A through C provide additional Gopher information, while chapters D through G concentrate on supplementary World Wide Web data.

A particularly valuable feature of this book is its inclusion of material that has not previously appeared in book format. For example, the segment on the World Wide Web consists of an introductory chapter, Setting Up the Server, Web Authoring, Gateways and Forms, and Access Control and Security. Setting Up the Server describes a step-by-step procedure for obtaining, building, and maintaining the NCSA Web server. Until now, anyone attempting to initiate and configure a Web server had to download the FAQs, configuration files, and Makefiles and then endeavor to assemble the resulting information in order. The authors discuss some topics that the FAQs either ignore or only partially address: legal issues, discovering hackers' attempts, and firewalls.

Managing Internet Information Services presents complex material in a logical manner. Its progressive approach allows the administrator to implement the various services with a minimum amount of difficulty. The expertise of the authors is evident in the presentation of the subject matter, and it is impossible to discern where one author's work ends and another's begins. This excellent book could not have been more timely. Anyone involved with installing Internet services, as an administrator, consultant, or provider, should read it and refer to it often.

Low-Cost E-Mail with UUCP
Integrating UNIX, DOS, Windows and Mac

by Thomas Wm. Madron, Ph.D.
Van Nostrand Reinhold
ISBN 0-442-01849-5
Disks Included

Electronic mail has evolved from part of network computing's benefits to a standard. Email addresses now appear on business cards and are regularly requested on various forms, along with name, telephone number, and fax number. When cost reduction became a major factor in network administration, electronic mail expenses presented a primary challenge. The UNIX-to-UNIX Copy Program (UUCP) had originally provided a low-cost dependable answer for UNIX networks. But since today's administrators are usually dealing with multi-platform networks, consisting of UNIX, DOS, Windows, OS/2, and Macintosh systems, UUCP has generally been dismissed as an unsuitable solution.

Thomas Madron addresses the benefits of UUCP, and explains how to adapt it to other platforms. The initial chapter, An Introduction to UUCP/Mail, explores some basics: who would want (and can use) a UUCP mail network, the fundamental network topologies, and understanding UUCP. Chapter two discusses the design of a UUCP network and shows a simple example. Chapter three examines UUCP in UNIX, its home environment, and then describes different products using UUCP on DOS/Windows, OS/2, and Macintosh systems. Other chapters include the UUCP and Mail Programs; the UUCP System Files: Installing UUCP on Your System; Creating, Reading, and Sending Mail; Completing and Managing the Network; and Beyond Your Private Network. The Appendices include an additional reading list, a product directory, sample configuration files, relevant RFCs, common modem problems, and a glossary. In other words, Low-Cost E-Mail with UUCP is a network administrator's guide to installing, running, and maintaining UUCP across diverse platforms.

Madron gives administrators guidelines for determining whether or not UUCP will work for them, then explains how to set it up, what products are available, and how to maintain it properly. He uses figures and tables when applicable, and gives many tips on installation and configuration. The accompanying disks contain shareware programs such as UUPlus, WinNET, and Waffle. The text is clearly written and will furnish network administrators with an excellent resource for using UUCP.

The Mosaic Handbook for the X Window System
by Dale Dougherty, Richard Koman, and Paula Ferguson
O'Reilly & Associate, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-095-3
CD-ROM Included

The Mosaic Handbook for Microsoft Windows
by Dale Dougherty and Richard Koman
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-094-5
Disks Included

The Mosaic Handbook for the Macintosh
by Dale Dougherty and Richard Koman
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
ISBN 1-56592-096-1
Disk Included

Mosaic, a relatively new development in Internet history, merges hypertext, graphics, formatted text, and multimedia for the user in one application. As the authors state, "Mosaic is more than a Web browser. In fact, it's an integrated interface for the entire Internet."

The World Wide Web is an extensive system of servers connected by hypertext links. Through these links, any document can be accessed simply, no matter where it really resides. Unlike other documents, a World Wide Web page stores text and formatting codes, pointes to other information (i.e., grpahics for the icons to appear on the page), and links to other resources, not necessarily on your machine. These links are stored in HyperText Markup Language (HTML). When a client selects a link, a new connection is established between the source of the information (where the data currently is located) and the client machine, which downloads the facts and employs the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) to format and present the information requested. The exciting concept of the Web is that the whole world becomes your file server and your workstation the connection manager and display formatter.

The Mosaic Handbook, whether the X Window System, Microsoft Windows, or Macintosh version, introduces the user, new or experienced, to Mosaic and demonstrates how to use it. Although the three platforms differ, the books offer the same general information. Each begins with The Wide World of Internet Services and Getting Started with Mosaic. Following these introductory chapters are: Exploring the World Wide Web, Accessing Other Internet Services, Customizing Mosaic, Using Mosaic for Multimedia, Creating HTML Documents, and Future Directions. The Appendices differ among the three versions, but they all include the Mosaic Reference Guide, the HTML Reference Guide, and a Glossary.

In addition to illustrating how to use the Mosaic interface, the authors explore the Web, leading the reader on a guided tour. O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. is particularly well qualified to demonstrate this, since O'Reilly instituted the Global Network Navigator (GNN). The GNN makes it easy to demonstrate how to navigate with Mosaic, whether the user needs information services, resources, or databases. The authors explore requirements for using Mosaic, how hypertext works, navigation tools, and using other Internet services via Mosaic.

The writing in all three books is clear and the authors have addressed the individual problems of each platform skillfully. Plenty of diagrams and screen reproductions complement the text and the figures and the text interact well. The topics are not long, which simplifies searching for a particular instruction. Every Mosaic user should have The Mosaic Handbook to peruse, read, and reference.

Inside UNIX
by Chris Hare, Emmett Dulaney, George Eckel, Steven Lee, and Lee Ray
New Riders Publishing
ISBN 1-56205-401-5
$39.99, Disk Included

Designed for the intermediate (and often neglected) UNIX user and beginning UNIX system administrator, Inside UNIX occupies a uniques position in the UNIX library. Usually a book for a system administrator cannot help (or doesn't interest) a user and vice versa, but this book bridges that gap quite well. It is also extremely current regarding UNIX versions, so some of its topics would be considered new by more experienced UNIX users.

The book begins with a UNIX overview, including a history that details the end of Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) and the entrance of Novell. The first few chapters, which will probably be a review for experienced users, deal with topics such as the importance of good passwords, the complete structure of the root directory (not just two or three examples to demonstrate how the structure works), and inode information. A section on editors examines vi basics, advanced vi topics, and ed. The original UNIX ed is not currently used by choice. However, following a system crash, it may be the only editor available to the administrator. In the advanced vi discussion, the authors not only list the set commands, but also explain what the individual options actually do. Following the editors section, Inside UNIX describes the most popular graphical user interfaces.

A subsequent section both introduces and demonstrates shell programming, covering the different shells, additional features, basic scripts, the awk processor, the sed editor, and some advanced shell techniques. A section on administration discusses the login procedure, processes, archiving and backup, and security. Most of the UNIX variants, including SCO UNIX, Xenix, Linux, FreeBSD, UnixWare, Solaris, Interactive UNIX, and NeXTstep are covered here. The Internet, mail, and communicating are also explored, and a section entitled, Connections deals with terminal and printer interfacing, connecting to MS-DOS, and networking concepts. The concluding section is an A-Z command reference. The appendices identify differences between UNIX and DOS and provide sample programs. The accompanying disk provides ASCII copies of all the shell scripts within the book.

Although it is intended for intermediate users and beginning system administrators, sections of this book will interest other levels of users and administrators. The introductory sections, editors chapters, and the segment on shell programming are good examples. The topics are well-organized and presented in a logical order, and the scope is extensive. The sections of particular interest to the system administrator can either be read separately or progressively as the next step. Diagrams, tables, and examples are used frequently throughout the book and complement the well-written text. The expertise of the individual authors is evident: this is a book that will significantly benefit both UNIX users and administrators.

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 (