802.11 Wireless Networks, The Definitive Guide by Matthew S. Gast

Reviewed by: Jim Huddle, CNE5 CBS MCSE ES-RC, send e-mail
Published by: OíReilly and Associates, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $44.95

With wireless networking now being a mainstream option for connecting mobile users to business resources, administrators charged with implementing the technology need resources of their own. This book gives admins both the details of how wireless works and how to plan and install wireless networks.

The book is written so that the administrator who needs to get a wireless network up and running can do so quickly. The chapters are laid out so that an admin can find the the location of practical set up guidance by simply checking the table of contents.

There are good sections detailing how access points provide service. There are planning guidelines for setting up a wireless network to allow users to seamlessly move from one place to another within a coverage area without losing their connection. The book also details how communications between access points and wireless NICs are initiated, maintained and disconnected.

Chapters 12 and 13 go into practical set up of the Lucent Orinoco and Nokia wireless products on Windows and Linux. Chapter 14 discusses Access points for both business and residential use. Itís especially gratifying to see a recognition that Linux is now a mainstream OS and that the author devoted a chapter to using wireless on Linux.

The book also gives a very detailed explanation of the 802.11 standard. It begins with an overview, giving the basic nomenclature used to describe the components of an 802.11 network. From there, the book goes into considerable, welcome detail on the specification. For the reader who has plenty of free time the book has nine chapters covering the specifics of the standard. It covers items like how the Media Access Control differs from a traditional wired Ethernet network, details on frames and WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy. If wireless is going to be a major part of your network in the future, I highly recommend you spend some time on these chapters.

While the actual text runs to 410 pages, I found that I knocked off the book in a couple of sittings. Although the author seems to assume the reader is not a novice to networking, the book is written to allow the non-geek to get the gist of whatís going on when they power up their laptop and connect to the network using their wireless NIC.

I found the text to be well written, logically laid out and a good technical read. In addition, I was pleased to see that by jumping Chapter 2 to Chapter 12, I could get practical information on getting the system up and running.

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