Ethernet: The Definitive Guide

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9781565926608: Ethernet: The Definitive Guide
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Ethernet is a core networking technology used by every high tech business. While the basic protocols have changed little, new options such as Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet have increased the complexity of the topic.

Ethernet has been the flavor of choice for networking administrators since the early 1980s because of its ease of use and scalability. Written by one of the foremost experts on Ethernet standards and configuration, Charles E. Spurgeon, Ethernet: The Definitive Guide includes everything you need to know to set up and maintain an Ethernet network.

Ethernet: The Definitive Guide teaches you everything you need to know about the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard and its protocols. The book is logically separated into five parts:

  • Introduction to Ethernet provides a tour of basic Ethernet theory and operation, including a description of Ethernet frames, operation of the Media Access Control (MAC) protocol, full-duplex mode and auto-negotiation.
  • Ethernet Media Systems is the heart of the book. This sectionof Ethernet: The Definitive Guide shows you how to build media-specific Ethernet networks, from a basic 10BASE-T Ethernet offering 10 Mbps over twisted-pair cables, to an advanced 1000BASE-X Gigabit Ethernet, providing up to 1 Gbps of data transfer over fiber optic cables.
  • Building Your Ethernet System teaches you how to build twisted-pair and fiber optic media segments, as well as how to build your Ethernet using repeaters and hubs.
  • Performance and Troubleshooting is divided into two chapters. The first describes both the performance of a given Ethernet channel, as well as the performance of the entire network system. The second includes a tutorial on troubleshooting techniques and describes the kinds of problems network administrators are likely to encounter.



The last part of the book includes a complete glossary of terms used throughout the book, a resource list, descriptions of thick and thin coax-based Ethernet systems, a guide to AUI equipment installation and configuration, and a listing of troubleshooting numbers.

This book is the definitive guide for anyone wanting to build a scalable local area network (LAN) using Ethernet.

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Review:

The "Ethernet"--as distinct from the Internet, intranet, sneakernet, and others in the net family--is both a familiar face and a familiar name. However, it evokes the mental experience of the school crossing guard whose ownership of a corner of your mindscape is so context-sensitive that a change in venue renders the name or face placeless. Crossing guard or letter carrier? Just what is the Ethernet, again? True to his subject's infrastructural centrality and steadfast obscurity, Charles E. Spurgeon delivers a solid, basic treatise, Ethernet: The Definitive Guide, which describes its subject matter in all of its mundane glory. Appropriately, this is the octopus book from O'Reilly.

Spurgeon's examination of Ethernet spans four sections with 20 chapters, three appendices, an 18-page glossary of acronyms and jargon, and a generous index. The Ethernet is the hardware of the Inter/intranet and the underlying packet-formatting software protocols that control the hardware interfaces. But it is mostly just hardware: cables (thin-coaxial, thick, twisted pair, fiber optical), connectors (BNC, RJ-45), hubs (switching, routing), and system catch-all naming conventions (10BASE-2, 10BASE-T.) Sensibly, the discussion excludes Ethernet cards and network communications protocols that are more detailed than frame or packet definition, viz., there is essentially no information on packet-level security. But if you need a plan for designing a telephone closet, Spurgeon waxes eloquent on both network topologies and impedance matching.

Spurgeon's survey of the Ethernet is enriched by his intimate knowledge of its historical and developmental context. He glances through the original 1970s papers by Metcalfe in which the Ethernet was parameterized as well as the unfortunate misunderstanding of Metcalfe's simple model of throughput, and the subsequent papers that tracked performance characteristics and corrected misunderstandings.

Since Spurgeon's book is aimed at the network practitioner, his discussions answer engineering questions: How do you design a network? How do the pieces perform? How does it all go together? How do you know what broke? The book is copiously and clearly illustrated with conceptual figures, pin-out diagrams, performance charts, and some basic printouts from network diagnostic applications. There is no network monitoring code whatsoever. Clearly it is best not to mix up the network designer with the programmer, just as the school crossing guard really isn't the letter carrier. But you have to remember to remember that. --Peter Leopold

About the Author:

Charles Spurgeon is a senior technology architect at the University of Texas at Austin, where he works on a campus network system serving over 70,000 users in 200 buildings on two campuses. He has developed and managed large campus networks for many years, beginning at Stanford University, where he worked with a group that built the prototype Ethernet routers that became the founding technology for Cisco Systems. Charles, who attended Wesleyan University, lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Joann Zimmerman, and their cat Mona.

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