book reviews

Cisco router books
Reviewed by: T.J. Nelson

Most people, when they need to configure a new router, don't want to be reminded of the bit order in a TCP packet or the details of BGRP. They want to know what commands to type so they can go back to their regular job of testing the bounciness of mattresses, calculating the foaminess of beer, or whatever their job is, as soon as possible.

The two books that I use when programming a router are Cisco Field Manual: Router Configuration by Hucaby and McQuerry, and Cisco Router Configuration by Leinwand and Pinsky. Both books provide the commands in a reasonable order without excessive verbosity. The third one in the list ( Cisco Router Configuration and Troubleshooting) is also sometimes useful, because it has some pages on ISDN, and has more details on problems.

Cisco routers are not only harder to use than other models, they're harder to buy. There are so many incompatible options that Cisco had to write an online configuration tool to help customers to buy the right parts. There are also numerous options in configuring the router. In addition to these books, you need a sample configuration from somebody else's router. Cisco Router Configuration and Mastering Cisco Routers have some.

Cisco Field Manual:
Router Configuration
A concise command reference for the most popular Cisco router features
by David Hucaby and Steve McQuerry

I f your job involves setting up Cisco routers, you need this book. It has 656 pages of clearly-written instructions and commands for most router features, direct from the horse's mouth, including basic configuration, IP routing protocols, H.323 voice, VPNs, HSRP, and QoS.

Cisco Router Configuration, 2nd ed.
A practical introduction to Cisco IOS Software configuration
Allan Leinwand and Bruce Pinsky

T his is a fairly basic and concise introduction to configuring your router. I keep this one on my desk in case I forget a basic command. With this no-nonsense book, you can sit down at the console and get a basic configuration running. It also has sections on AppleTalk and IPX. An appendix shows some complete running-configs for some hypothetical networks.

Cisco Router Configuration & Troubleshooting, 2nd ed.
Mark Tripod

T his one has some stuff on ISDN as well as leased lines. Half the book is devoted to problems. Chances are, you will never have a problem with a Cisco router. At least 99% of the time, the problem is in the cabling, connectors, or at the telco. But you still need to gather proof to convince the telco to fix their line. This book will help.

I use this one occasionally, but it's not as thorough as the two above.

Cisco Access Lists Field Guide
Gil Held and Kent Hundley

U sing ACLs is a good way to build a firewall. This book takes that simple task and makes it sound complex. But it has few competitors, and it's helpful. See here for review.

Cisco IOS In a Nutshell
James Boney

O ver half of this O'Reilly book consists of a list of all the Cisco IOS commands in alphabetical order, along with their syntax, a brief description, and their arguments, in a man page format. Very convenient if you program routers all day, and much easier than searching through the official documentation.

Cisco Cookbook
K. Dooley and I.J. Brown

T his book is a collection of command-line tools and short Perl scripts for performing various maintenance tasks on Cisco routers, organized in a problem-solution format. Very well written and crammed with helpful advice about Cisco IOS and appropriate warnings about anything that might give you "paws". Includes recipes for configuring various aspects of RIP, BGP, OSPF, Frame Relay, QoS, VPNs, SNMP, logging, ACLs, DHCP, NAT, HSRP (Hot Standby Router Protocol), and multicasting. One disappointment is that flows and VRRP are not covered. Even so, this book is an essential reference for any network administrator. However, a CD is not included. This is one book that would have benefited from a CD.

Enhanced IP Services for Cisco Networks
Donald C. Lee

not finished

T1: A Survival Guide
Matthew S. Gast

H ardware-oriented guide to selecting and provisioning a T1 line. A must-have if you're using Verizon or some other company that has decided to cut costs by firing everyone who knows what they're doing.

Network Warrior
Gary A. Donahue

I ntended to fill holes in your knowledge. Goes all PC on us toward the end. See here for review.

Mastering Cisco Routers
Chris Brenton

G ood but a little verbose. Although it's not as tightly organized as the Cisco Press books, it's a lot more readable. It also has an excellent discussion of ACLs. The 708 pages will make great reading if you're trapped in an underground missile silo for a couple weeks.

Cisco IOS 12.0 Quality of Service
Cisco Documentation

not finished