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Books: A User's Report

Elizabeth Zinkann

Once again, there were too many excellent books and not enough space, but I tried to choose some of the best, and present a selection as well. Several outstanding second editions appeared. The column consists of a mixture of some Internet books, two system administration books, a general UNIX book, and the latest on TCP/IP. One of the Internet books is solely for our UK subscribers, and is not sold here in the United States, hence the price of 19.95. This month I reviewed The Internet Yellow Pages, 2nd Ed., by Harley Hahn and Rick Stout; The Internet Companion, 2nd Ed., by Tracy LaQuey, Foreword by Vice President Al Gore; UNIX System Administration Handbook, 2nd Ed., by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent R. Hein; the AIX RS/6000 System and Administration Guide, by James W. DeRoest; The UK Internet Book, by Sue Schofield; UNIX Unleashed, from Sams Publishing; and TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 2: The Implementation, by Gary R. Wright and W. Richard Stevens. I believe that these are some of the most significant books currently available. I hope that you enjoy this month's selections.

The Internet Yellow Pages Second Edition
by Harley Hahn and Rick Stout
Osborne McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-882098-7

The second edition of this valuable resource approximately doubles the length and the number of entries in the first edition. (The original edition contained 2,400 entries; the second edition provides over 5,000 individual entries.) Since Hahn and Stout expanded this directory by so much data, I checked to see exactly what had changed between volumes. I found that they included much more information (the modifications to the Art topic alone are impressive), and they added approximately 28 new categories. Subtopics were added to several of the existing topics (Computers grew from eleven to fifteen subtopics, with Multimedia and computer companies at the forefront of new information), and some of the existing topics were reorganized (for example, Pets became the more inclusive Animals/Pets, and Programming evolved from an independent entry to a subtopic of Computers). Among the new subjects are Disabilities, Role-Playing, Energy, Kids, Museums, Women, Genealogy, Zines, Real Estate, Parties/Entertainment, Crafts, Families/Parenting, and Comic Books.

The authors retained the organizational structure of the first edition, along with the humorous sidebars, the imaginative artwork (I believe the artists responsible are Leslee Bassin, Helena Worsley, and Marla Shelasky), and the information pertaining to each entry. The preamble to the directory itself includes an introduction to the second edition, the introduction to the original edition, a how-to section called "The Internet and This Book," which offers some tips on using the Internet with this directory, and the Acknowledgments. (The aforementioned sections total approximately six pages; skipping any of it will only deprive the reader of several smiles, a few laughs, and some useful information.)

This book (the original edition) has been my favorite resource for the Internet. I only keep a few Internet books close enough to my computer to access at a moment's notice. I use this one often. (I also reference Hahn and Stout's The Internet Complete Reference frequently.) The organization of the book allows the reader easy and immediate access to information, the entries are all free, and the book provides Usenet newsgroups in a separate listing. The Index remains a valuable resource for entries the reader cannot find either by perusal or by reviewing the table of contents, as well as for entries the reader needs to find immediately. Hahn and Stout's The Internet Yellow Pages, 2nd Ed., is an extraordinary resource and an indispensable guide for any Internet user, whether casual or serious.

The Internet Companion A Beginner's Guide to Global Networking Second Edition
by Tracy LaQuey
Foreword by Vice President Al Gore
Addison Wesley
ISBN 0-201-40766-3

The Internet reflects the people who use it -- it continuously changes. To help the user keep pace with these changes, author Tracy LaQuey has modified the best-selling The Internet Companion. One of the first books published about the Internet, this highly readable and often intriguing volume has expanded in size (from 4" by 8" to 5 1/4" by 8 1/4") and length (from 196 to 262 pages). A comparison of chapters between the original and the second edition showed that each section had expanded in some way, and one former topic ("UNIX on the Internet: A Survival Guide") had become a chapter. Even the foreword by the Vice President has been revised, and many new real-life examples of the Internet in action have been added.

The Internet Companion remains one of my favorite books on this topic and is never further than six inches from my keyboard. I not only appreciate LaQuey's gentle introductions to topics and her technical expertise, but also enjoy the Internet anecdotes interspersed throughout the book. The revised version is a most welcome addition to my Internet bookshelf.

UNIX System Administration Handbook Second Edition
by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent R. Hein
Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-151051-7
CD-ROM Included

The second edition of "the yellow book" (now red) covers what every UNIX system administrator should know and be able to do. This is not a book about theoretical concepts: instead, The UNIX System Administration Handbook presents practical material in a hands-on manner, using examples, horror stories, and solutions. Nemeth, Snyder, Seebass, and Hein describe different aspects of administration as they actually exist; they do not attempt to either oversimplifly or complicate the tasks a system administrator must perform.

The book covers six operating systems: Solaris 2.4, HP-UX 9.0., IRIX 5.2, SunOS 4.1.3, DEC's OSF/1 2.0, and BSD/OS 1.1. The first three are derived from AT&T UNIX, while the latter three resemble Berkeley UNIX. The book is divided into three sections: Basic Administration, Networking, and Bunch o'Stuff. Basic Administration furnishes the fundamental information a system administrator needs to run a standalone UNIX system. Since UNIX networking presents one of the most difficult aspects of system administration, the authors not only discuss the UNIX system protocols and the techniques utilized in designing, installing, and maintaining a UNIX network, but also address networking software, including the Domain Name System (DNS), the Network File System (NFS), and sendmail. The section entitled Bunch o'Stuff covers a variety of topics: Usenet news, Printing and Imaging, Disk Space Management, Hardware Maintenance, Accounting, Performance Analysis, Unix to Unix Copy (UUCP), Daemons, and Policy and Politics. (The last chapter quickly became a favorite; it provides ethical solutions, some real-life problems, as well as some humor.) The CD-ROM contents are well-documented, and directions for mounting it and accessing the programs are extremely clear.

Nemeth, Snyder, Seebass, and Hein have outdone themselves with this new edition. They have revised the information, included new topics, and provided necessary tools on the CD-ROM. The authors give practical advice for current problems, address the most difficult and demanding issues, and illustrate a myriad of tasks that system administrators must face daily. The UNIX System Administration Handbook is well-written and bespeaks the thorough knowledge of the authors at the turn of every page. No UNIX system administrator should be without this book.

AIX RS/6000 System and Administration Guide
by James W. DeRoest
J. Ranade Workstation Series
ISBN 0-07-036439-7

Information for the AIX system administrator has been extremely limited, consisting essentially of the cumbersome AIX manuals that accompany the system, additional IBM documentation, bits and pieces from other books, and a few periodicals. AIX administrators have not enjoyed the luxury of other system administrators, who can simply choose a supplementary text from any bookstore. This book covers AIX up to the 3.2.5 release. (In the preface, the author mentions the difficulty in writing about a current release; as he developed the book, three releases were announced.)

DeRoest divides the text into eight separate sections. Parts 1, 2, and 3 -- System Administration Tasks and Tools, System Installation and Operation, and System Configuration and Customization, respectively -- explain basic tools, installation and maintenance, daily procedures, and configuration for tapes, disks, file systems, terminals, modems, and printers. Part 4, Network Configuration and Customization, examines the use of TCP/IP, UUCP, the Network File system (NFS), the Network Computing System, and System Network Architecture (SNA) with AIX. System Services and Resources, Part 5, discusses how AIX implements Process Management, Electronic Mail, News, DOS Services, and X11 Administration. The sixth section, Users and Security, includes user environment management, auditing and security, and system accounting. The next section, System Tuning and Recovery, considers backup utilities, system monitoring and tuning, and problem analysis and recovery. The final section, Distributed Systems, features clustering and network archiving. The two appendices provide email lists and ftp sites plus sample code. DeRoest also furnishes a bibliography.

AIX RS/6000 System and Administration Guide fills a void in the publishing area. DeRoest's organization represents a logical, step-by-step approach to AIX administration. His writing style is readable, often humorous, and designed to provide an easily accessible resource for AIX system administrators, developers, and users. Every AIX system administrator should possess, read, and use this book. It is an excellent, and long-awaited, reference.

The UK Internet Book
by Sue Schofield
ISBN 0-201-42766-4

Although this book specifically addresses the UK Internet, Schofield offers a casual, straightforward approach to a topic that is confusing for many users. The simple caption by the artwork introducing the preface emphasizes the truth: "Don't expect this book to turn you into an Internet expert overnight" (page ix).

Frequently, books are bought and sold with just that expectation, in a manner reminiscent of late-night television commercials and diets. ("Buy this potato peeler and you will become a gourmet chef by morning" or "Purchase this exercise equipment and lose sixty-three pounds in an hour." You don't even have to use the item: just buy it.) Many of the Internet books appear to make the same claim: the buyer of the book doesn't even have to read the book; just purchase it and the knowledge is automatically his or hers. The UK Internet Book makes no such claims and often reminds the reader of reality: "You won't become a Network Guru by reading this chapter" (page 21).

Schofield describes Internet Basics, Internet Tools, the Finale, and Appendices. She presents more appendices than chapters (chapters, 12; appendices, 14).

The introduction, Internet Basics, presents an overview, software, and how the Internet really works, if the reader is interested. Part 2, Internet Tools, is the heart of the book: it covers Electronic Mail, Network News, Telnet, Archie, FTP, Gopher, and the World Wide Web. The Finale, section 3, describes "A brief history of crime" and "Internet past, present, and future." Among the Appendices are "All about modems," "Getting started with an Internet provider," "Getting started with Macs or Amiga computers," a list of UK access providers as of 30 June 1994, email abbreviations, and glossaries for both telecommunications and Internet terms.

A new edition of this book, "Revised for '95," is scheduled to be released shortly. I reviewed the original edition. The UK Internet Book is currently the best-selling Internet book in the UK. The new edition, according to author Sue Schofield, will include both new chapters and trouble-shooting appendices, and a PC/Mac/Amiga disk containing over 3Mb of Internet information accessible without an Internet account. The new edition will also contain an updated UK Internet provider list, a complete Usegroups and Listservs reference, details about anonymous servers, and World Wide Web pages and sites.

The UK Internet Book is a well-written guide to the Internet. Schofield presents the information in an organized, unhurried manner. (She explains the topics so well that the reader actually learns more than he or she realizes. I even learned where to telnet for an IRC link to the UK.) The book also offers several discounts for UK readers. Although the book is not sold in the United States, it discusses the elements of the Internet very well and really could be considered an international book, minus the UK offers. I would recommend this book (and have) to any UK Internet user as a valuable beginning text and an invaluable reference.

UNIX Unleashed
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-30402-3
CD-ROM Included

The fifth book in the "Unleashed" series, UNIX Unleashed proves worthy of its inclusion. (For the reader's information, the others were CorelDRAW!4 Unleashed, The Internet Unleashed, NetWare Unleashed, and FoxPro 2.6 for Windows Unleashed.) Fifteen knowledgeable UNIX authors collaborated to share their individual expertise with the reader. Several things strike the browser at first glance: the welcome quick reference card (which really is easily detachable), the book's format, which is both easily readable and describes the topics in short, solution-finding sections, and the use of examples throughout the book to pragmatically demonstrate concepts.

On closer perusal, the reader discovers that every type and level of UNIX user, from novice through system administrator, is addressed in an individual section. In each category users encounter knowledge a step beyond their current comfort level: ideas to learn beyond today's lessons.

UNIX Unleashed divides the topics into eight parts. The introductory section, Finding Your Way Around UNIX, provides the beginner with fundamental concepts, a tutorial, the UNIX file system, popular tool, text editors, traversing the network, and communicating with others. Part 2, The Hunt for Shells, examines the Bourne, Korn, and C shells and also evaluates and compares the shells. In Part 3, Programming, the authors discuss three languages: awk, a pattern matching and processing language; perl, a programming language with C language constructs and the interpretation and execution of shell scripts; and the C programming language. Part 4, Process Control, looks at processes, while part 5, Text Formatting and Printing, investigates nroff/troff, tbl, eqn, pic, grap, and macros. Part 6, Advanced File Utilities, details archiving, backups, and source control using the Source Code Control System (SCCS) and the Revision Control System (RCS). Part 7 describes System Administration, from UNIX installation, daily procedures, and file system and user administration to performance monitoring, device administration, and security. The final section, UNIX Flavors and Graphical User Interfaces, begins with a look at the different varieties of UNIX (flavors), and different graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for both end users and programmers. The appendix furnishes instructions for installing the CD-ROM and a table of contents identifying the program name, location on the disc, and a description of the program.

Although the chapters were written individually by different authors, UNIX Unleashed has an orderly and cohesive style. The text flows easily, as if one author were responsible for the entire book. It is clearly written, the expertise of the authors is evident, and the resulting book is outstanding. UNIX Unleashed, whether used as a learning tool or a resource, is one of the most useful UNIX texts available today.

TCP/IP Illustrated Volume 2: The Implementation
by Gary R. Wright and W. Richard Stevens
Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series
ISBN 0-201-63354-X

The long-awaited and eagerly anticipated TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 2, is here. Volume 1 discussed the protocols; Volume 2 features the implementation of TCP/IP. Using the 4.4BSD-Lite (Berkeley Software Distribution) release, Wright and Stevens detail the implementation and present the entire source code for the kernel implementation of TCP/IP, which totals approximately 15,000 lines of C code. The audience that Volume 2 addresses includes anyone interested in the TCP/IP protocols implementation. Wright and Stevens assume the reader has a basic understanding of TCP/IP protocols (Volume 1 will assist anyone deficient in this area) and a fundamental knowledge of operating system principles. Although the authors do not emphasize this requirement, the reader will benefit from some C language and data structures knowledge.

The underlying organization of the book is presented graphically in the preface, on page __. In place of the usual cube representation of the TCP/IP protocol suite, the diagram shows the protocols and subsystems in a genealogical tree relationship. Wright and Stevens explain TCP/IP with layers equivalent to generations, beginning with the data link layer and progressing to the network layers (IP, ICMP, IGMP, IP routing, and multicast routing), the socket layer, and the transport layer (UDP, TCP, and raw IP). Since the source code contains many functions and the functions appear in various places, the authors use the inside back covers to present a directory indexing the different functions. Wright and Stevens display the code in a consistent manner, and make it as easy to read as possible. They provide a great deal of information pertaining to the code, including bugs (noting and discussing the bugs as they appear), and they occasionally furnish comments from the original authors. Each chapter also includes graphical representations of the data structures employed by the source code and how these and other data structures used by TCP/IP and the kernel interact. Since different types of readers will come at the book in different ways, Wright and Stevens furnish both cross-references and forward and backward references, in addition to the index.

Wright and Stevens teach the implementation in a practical way that does not overwhelm the reader nor oversimplify the subject. They focus on a set of source code in each chapter and detail how it works. While the chapters are related, each can also be read as a standalone unit. This allows the reader to either concentrate on a specific area or progress step-by-step. Each chapter concludes with a summary and a set of exercises. (For the reader's benefit, most of the exercise solutions appear in Appendix A.) The chapters on memory buffers, IP multicasting, and, particularly, the sockets (Socket Layer, Socket I/O, Socket Options, and Routing Sockets) will be extremely popular and well-used. The authors also explore 4.4BSD-Lite's newest features, including long fat pipe support, window scale, and timestamp options. In addition to exercise solutions, appendices include Source Code Availability (it is occasionally helpful to have the source code online) and RFC 1122 Compliance.

TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 2: The Implentation is a thorough, readable, logical, and very well-organized text on TCP/IP. The many figures and diagrams throughout the book help the reader understand the concepts being discussed. This book is an essential addition to any computer professional's library.

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 (