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Cisco Routers for the Desperate: Router and Switch Management, the Easy Way [Kindle Edition]

Michael W. Lucas
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Print List Price: $24.95
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Book Description

Cisco routers and switches are the cornerstones of many networks. But when things break, repairs can intimidate even the most competent administrator. Luckily, just knowing the "in case of emergency" basics will take you far.

Just like the original, this second edition of the highly acclaimed Cisco Routers for the Desperate is written for the administrator in crisis mode. Updated to cover switches and the latest Cisco terminology, with a tighter focus on the needs of the small network administrator, this second edition gives you what you need to know to provide reliable network services and fix problems fast. You'll find coverage of:

  • Installation—how to get your router and network connections up and running right the first time
  • Troubleshooting routers and switches, so that you can determine whether your hardware or the Internet is broken
  • Security concerns, like how to keep your network equipment safe from hackers and install a private network between two offices
  • How to implement basic network redundancy to reduce the risk of network downtime

Cisco Routers for the Desperate, 2nd Edition is designed to be read once and left alone until something breaks. When it does, you'll have everything you need to know in one easy-to-follow guidebook.

Editorial Reviews


"Highly recommended pick" -- Midwest Book Review, January 2005

About the Author

Michael W. Lucas is a network/security engineer with extensive experience working with high-availability systems. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Absolute FreeBSD, Absolute OpenBSD, Cisco Routers for the Desperate, and PGP & GPG, all from No Starch Press.

Product Details

  • File Size: 370 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 2 edition (August 20, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002MZAR7C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,237 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
'Cisco Routers for the Desperate' (CRFTD) is the book Cisco should package with their routers -- assuming author Michael Lucas makes a few tweaks. I've always been amazed by Michael's uncanny ability to include details that matter to administrators, especially in his earlier books 'Absolute BSD' and 'Absolute OpenBSD'. CRFTD is no exception; the book is chock full of life-saving Cisco tips. I suggest you buy one to keep by your router, just as the author recommends.

CRFTD is not supposed to be comprehensive, but it is designed to answer many if not most of the questions facing the average small router administrator. If you're responsible for multiple routers or have complex requirements, this book is not for you. If you are stuck sitting if front of the router connected to your ISP, and don't know how to proceed, CRFTD is for you.

Although this book weighs in around 120 pages, it features material seldom discussed in other Cisco-related books. For example, Michael provides good advice on how to interact with your ISP to troubleshoot connectivity issues. He explains WAN circuits and the equipment responsibilities of ISPs and end users. Most impressively, he dedicates 25 pages in chapter 7 to Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Cisco's Host Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) -- two topics I did not expect in a book this size. I also appreciated mention of enabling usernames and passwords (beyond the usual 'password' and 'enable' methods) and activating secure shell services.

I like CRFTD because it cuts to the chase and tells the reader what he or she needs to know to properly configure a router. There is not a lot of theory here, but there are some explanations. In some cases, the syntax is not exactly in synch with Cisco's latest expectations.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful diagnostic tool September 5, 2005
No one will mistake this for a Dummies book. No pretty colours or fancy graphics. Just a slim compendium of diagnostic hacks to be performed, probably under conditions of high stress. Lucas assumes you have some prior networking experience with TCP/IP. He claims you don't need much actual experience with a Cisco router to use this book. His reason is interesting. Those routers need to work continuously and in practise they and your network often do. Until an occasional breakdown. But the high MTBF means you might have little actual hands on with the router. Ironic, eh?

It should be said that the book is not really about what to do if the router is bad. Rather, it is about the more realistic case where something has come unglued on your network. Lucas shows how the router can be an invaluable tool in tracking down the problem.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the desperate indeed, but also for the novice November 6, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it is a very good book for the regular operations person, who need to know how the connection to your ISP works. I am in the isp business, therefore I deal with customer's turn ups and router configurations every day. If you are a network person dealing with current issues like qos and voip, this book is NOT for you. If you are a noc technician at an ISP or an IT person in control of your ISP connectivity, this book is the HANDBOOK. It is so concise that you will end reading all the chapters in one afternoon, or less, and at the end you will know exactly, and I mean exactly, what goes where and why, in reference to all the cisco configurations at your end.

Caveat. This book is less than in introduction to cisco equipment, but it will get you connected and running to an ISP, with redundancy and high availability.

It is a fun book, all and all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative for beginners April 10, 2012
By Dimitri
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is somewhat strange. First half is very clear and informative for a beginner like me. I liked the chapter on how to set up the routing tables. However, it becomes unclear, almost rushed, in the second half when he starts talking about more advanced topics like BGP etc. I don't understand why he would need to include these topics in this (quite thin) volume, considering one needs much better expertise, like CCNA or more, to properly deal with them. What beginner really needs to configure and optimize circuits to two independent ISPs? An organization which can afford two T1 lines from two different ISPs for the purpose of redundancy most likely can afford to hire a professional Cisco engineer or consultant.

Author sometimes uses some strange terminology, like "SCP server". Although it is understood what he means, I don't think that's an established technical term.

Talking about BGP chapter, among other things, it is not clear where the two WAN circuits from the two providers connect to (which interfaces).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great crash course into Cisco routers February 5, 2007
By Doug M
I started a new job and had almost no experience with Cisco products. I was desperate and bought this book. What a gem of a purchase. This book takes something cryptic as Cisco appliance administration and walks you through it so that anyone can learn in hours.

I have bought books from this author before and have yet to be disappointed. The man has clearly been an admin for years, so he knows the pain we all feel. :) His humor is really refreshing on such a dry topic.

All in all, I would recommend this book for any novice network admin, or someone who wants to start a new job using Cisco products. It's worth the price.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great reference book when you need quick information.
Published 3 days ago by Philip G. Bonitto
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than expect it.
IT was better than I expect it. The book looked like it was never used. Great tool for it professionals.
Published 12 months ago by Miguel Rivas
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
I was intimidated at first as I am just starting out with my Cisco router. But this book is great and very easy to read and understand. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Angela Hagerman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Great book. Not too technical. Good book for the beginner. Very easy to follow for the novice. Glad I made the purchase.
Published 15 months ago by G-MAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Emergency Kit Book
This eBook I put on the main IT department workstation. It is a emergency-mode-only guide to trying to get a Cisco router back up after a catastrophic event. Read more
Published 17 months ago by AZ
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book for anyone who gets thrown "under the cisco bus" so they say
This is my first review, ever, so I'll keep it short. Look, around 8-9 years ago I picked up the 1st edition of this book at Borders. Read more
Published 19 months ago by slick
5.0 out of 5 stars simple and good read
This router book is for a newbie with maybe a few quick tips but for the most part, this book will just give you the basics on getting your router going. I would recommend.
Published 19 months ago by S. Neff
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for the desperate
I'm a CCNA/NP candidate, and having been out of the I.T. for a few years, and then not only finding employment, but a job in a WAN environment, I found myself in over my head. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Howie Handles
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the brake fix hot list you will want when you don't have your...
What it lacks in detail it makes up for in direction. It helped me fix my router after failure of its flash.
Published 22 months ago by Matthew Southwell
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough to help me.
I'm generally a fan of No Starch Press, but this book is not just thin in physical form, but also on how to make the best use of the information included. Read more
Published 23 months ago by J. Longfield
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More About the Author

Michael W Lucas is from Detroit, Michigan. He's worked as a network engineer, systems administrator, library cataloger, and gerbil wrangler. You can find his Web site at, his blog at, and on Twitter as @mwlauthor.

"Michael Lucas is probably the best system administration author I've read. I am amazed that he can communicate top-notch content with a sense of humor, while not offending the reader or sounding stupid. When was the last time you could physically feel yourself getting smarter while reading a book?" -- Richard Bejtlich, TaoSecurity

"For me, reading this book was like having one of the guys in my company who lives and breathes Cisco sitting down with me for a day and explaining everything I need to know to handle problems or issues likely to come my way. There may be many additional things I could potentially learn about my Cisco switches, but likely few I'm likely to encounter in my environment." -- IT World

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