Leighton and four assistants have been developing a Unix-Windows NT distributed interoperability scheme since summer 1997. Leighton acknowledges that they are far from finished, but this book represents their collected notes as they partially network-reverse-engineer and partially document Microsoft's distributed computing remote procedure calls.
Leighton's fascinating first section describes the history and politics of communications protocol development and documentation/non-documentation strategies. He explains his apparently strange choice to ignore the official DCE/RPC documentation. The reason, he explains, is his group's motivation to network-reverse-engineer Microsoft's undocumented implementation, which is significantly dissimilar.
Boasting no figures at all, DCE/RPC over SMB consists of 217 pages of austere text ("written with vi and yodl... no GUIs were harmed") and 35 pages of appendices on Samba source code and Windows NT password and authentication methods. The book is a reference for do-it-yourselfers who want to use distributed computing in a Unix-Windows NT environment but can't afford the source license of Microsoft's DCE/RPC or need only a subset of Microsoft's DCE/RPC functionality.
In the minefield of proprietary protocols and software interoperability development, Laurie Petrycki and New Riders deserve special medals of valor for helping the free software community by publishing works in progress. DCE/RPC over SMB is the boldest mission yet. Single points of failure abound for both the project and the book. Even if Microsoft's implementation of RPC and SMB protocols remain quasi-static during Leighton's development time (Windows 2000 appears not to have undergone major changes), Microsoft could quite easily surprise the development community by publishing its own complete documentation, in which case all of the hard-won discoveries become redundant. The alternative, conceding "public" DCE/RPC interface and functionality issues in a multi-OS environment to Microsoft, is significantly less appealing. --Peter Leopold