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802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition Paperback – May 2, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0596100520 ISBN-10: 0596100523 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (May 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596100523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596100520
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Among network designers and administrators, wired Ethernet is a known quantity. Plenty is known about how to build good twisted-pair network infrastructures, how to keep them secure, and how to monitor their excess capacity. Not so for the wireless Ethernet networks (built around the IEEE 802.11x standards)--these hold much more mystery for even experienced network designers. 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide aims to codify the body of knowledge needed to design and maintain wireless local area networks (LANs). The authors succeed admirably in this, covering what installation and administration teams need to know and digging into information of use to driver writers and others working at lower levels.

The only significant detail that's been excluded has to do with security--a notorious weak point of 802.11x LANs. The authors cover the feeble but widely used Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) authentication protocol in detail and devote another whole chapter to 802.1x, which is an emerging authentication scheme based on Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). The author has considerable skill in communicating information graphically and does a great job of using graphs to show how communications frequencies shift over time and how conversations among access points and network nodes progress over time. This is indeed an authoritative document. --David Wall

Topics covered: How IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b wireless networks (also known as WiFi networks) work, and how to configure your own. The framing specification is covered well, as are authentication protocols and (in detail) the physical phenomena that affect IEEE 802.11x radio transmissions. There's advice on how to design a wireless network topology, and how to go about network traffic analysis and performance improvement. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Building Wireless Community Networks is an enthusiastic introductory guide to a technology which can really be put to use to change people's lives. Wireless gives the power of the network back to the people, and this book helps to demystify the technology and enable any community to take control.' Linux User, March/April (Classic Title) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book gives good technical information, with few examples that helps to understand the topics.
Avi Weitzman
I recommend this book highly for anyone who needs a protocol level on up view of 802.11 for planning, deploying, or understanding 802.11 networks.
Glenn Fleishman
The book includes relevant diversions into such topics as RF physics and issues such as the nonexistent microwave absorption peak of water.
Ben Rothke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Donald Gillies on July 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Recently I've been designing a system to run atop 802.11b radios and this book has served as an excellent introduction to the 802.11b standard. For example, Gast's description of spread-spectrum radios, chipping, and OFDMA radio systems is a broad overview without going into excessive mathematical formulas and it gives a non-RF engineer a basic understanding of what are the issues underlying each of the 802.11 radios of today.
I found myself reading a chapter of this book, and then looking at the 802.11b standard itself (now available free on the website ieee.org) for more detailed information. I found only a couple of minor errors in this book. This book serves as an outstanding introduction to the protocol standard, which is large and which contains little or no practical information for the practitioner. However, I did also use Radia Perlman's book on Routing in conjunction with this book to help me understand IEEE 802.1 issues.
Gast attempts to be a be-all and end-all book for everyone. For example, he attempts to describe all 802.11 RF modulation schemes. He attempts to give a full description of all the packet formats. He attempts to describe which cards are based on which baseband (Intersil or Orinoco). This stuff is changing very fast but he gave it his best shot, and its very important to people installing *NIX drivers. He attempts to tell you how to set up an 802.11 Ethereal packet sniffer. All of his information is invaluable to anyone setting up 802.11b on any flavor of UNIX or Linux. Anyway, he makes a really valiant effort and I've never seen a networking book try to play in all 4 spaces at once - RF Theory, Network Protocols, Hardware Selection, and Practicum - all at the same time. He should be applauded for this attempt.
I have not found a book that is nearly as comprehensive (6/2003) and I've lent this book to at least 5 other people, most of them PhD's or VP's in EE or CS and/or wireless communications.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ben Rothke on July 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide lives up to its title and provides virtually everything you could need to know about 802.11 networks.
802.11 is a family of specifications for wireless networks developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). There are currently four specifications in the family: 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g, all of which use the basic Ethernet protocols.
Within the last few years, wireless networks have become extremely popular. No longer must a physical cable be run (at both a time and monetary expense) to each network host. With wireless technology, impromptu meetings can be set up just about anywhere, from conference rooms to airplanes, hotel rooms, and more.
Anyone who has looked at network standards can attest to how boring they are to read. However, Gast does a wonderful job writing about wireless Ethernet in a way that is not only "not boring," but actually interesting. This is due to his expertise with the subject matter and the many real-world scenarios that he shares.
Gast acknowledges that most readers who simply want a methodical, but not all-inclusive, overview of 802.11 can skip chapters 3 through 11, as they deal with the low level details of 802.11. He clearly states that just as it is quite possible to build a wired network without a thorough and detailed understanding of the protocols, the same is true for wireless networks. Nonetheless, there are a number of situations where one may need a deeper knowledge of the underpinnings of 802.11, and those underpinning are exhaustively detailed in chapters 3 through 11.
Chapters 3 and 4 address the MAC layer and 802.11 framing. Chapter 5 deals with the greatest weakness of 802.11 -- namely its lack of security.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Fleishman on January 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure what book two other [Amazon.com] reviewers were reading, but Matthew Gast's does not suffer from the flaws they state: it's a comprehensive book with a laser-beam focus, and they're criticizing a book this isn't. Why no Ethernet primer? Because it's a focused 802.11 book. Why no reporting of security flaws discovered in mid-2001? Because the book was being printed then -- but the book delves deeply into the security model underlying 802.11, which is what it's about.
I recommend this book highly for anyone who needs a protocol level on up view of 802.11 for planning, deploying, or understanding 802.11 networks. It's a constant reference guide for me, and it's never steered me wrong.
If you read the critical reviews carefully, the first (Kevin) complains about when it was published, and the second (anonymous) complains about the book but then admits he or she hasn't read other 802.11 books and doesn't explain whether he or she has relevant knowledge.
Because most systems deployed are 802.11b based, this book retains its utility. At some point, probably within the next six months, another edition will be needed to deal with the current draft 802.11g standard, the new WPA security protocol, and the coming 802.11i, h, e, and f protocols. But as long as you're dealing with 802.11b, this is the ultimate guide for network administrators and software developers.
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The author, Matthew Gast, seems to have a dearth of relevant experience on 802.11. His bio in the back of the book (and on O'Reilly's website) gives no single specific experience - academic, professional, or otherwise - he had relating to 802.11. The bio instead is left to boast that Gast is a "renaissance technologist" and a "voracious reader on science and economics". I find it telling that the publishers spent more space discussing the design of the book's cover than on Gast's bio. If you don't know a subject well, you'll have a difficult time teaching it to others, and that appears to be the case here.
I noticed that Gast wrote other networking books for O'Reilly, so I assume he's their go-to guy on networking. Why they would do that on a hot subject like 802.11 is a mystery, and it produced a poorly written mess.
As for the book, it appears that he researched as much substance on 802.11 and haphazardly threw it together. The flow of the book is atrocious and seems poorly planned. For example, he advises readers to skip more than half the middle of the book and come back to it later if necessary since he feels it may be too complicated for most. Why not put that portion of the book at the end, or better yet, write clearly enough so that it's not too complicated? This is an 802.11 book, after all.
He also spends the first two chapters explaining the most rudimentary details of wireless networks, yet expects the reader to be well versed in Ethernet. If Ethernet is so vital to understanding 802.11, why didn't Gast devote a chapter as an Ethernet primer, especially since he found it compelling to include two chapters of the most basic of wireless network primers?
His clarity is also awful. The book is very dense with acronyms and technical terms.
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