Book Review: A Field Guide to Wireless LANs for Administrators and Power Users

by Nathan Smith

A Field Guide to Wireless LANs for Administrators and Power Users

by Thomas Maufer

Prentice Hall

ISBN: 0-13-101406-4

$ 39.99 US

A great deal of information is packed into A Field Guide to Wireless LANs for Administrators and Power Users. It probably is not the book to start with if you are new to networks, wireless networks in particular. But, if you already used your first wireless LAN, this book can take you much the rest of the way. Topics covered or touched on include security, basic setup of a wireless card and RF theory. It is a comprehensive book.

Mr. Maufer describes the 802.11 specifications by using both a theoretical perspective and explaining how it works in practice. Several chapters of the book are devoted to explaining components of IEEE 802.11 in depth.

The chapters on security for wireless networks alone probably are worth the price of the book. They include a little cryptography information, how WEP works and why WEP is bad. He then progresses into a discussion of EAP and next-generation security possibilities. This discussion on security is quite lucid, and what little math there is could be skipped without missing too much.

One feature this book really could have used is a short glossary. Even for people accustomed to reading through acronyms and abbreviations, some passages are torturous. Maufer's style of writing tends to be verbose at times, but his meaning usually is clear and his organization is good. His credentials indicate his strong networking experience, and his control of the material is obvious.

Examples in the book are illustrated for both Linux and Windows users. Some of the dual examples are helpful in the same way that learning a foreign language gives you perspective on how your own language works.

This book is really a stepping-stone for someone who has experimented with wireless LANs and now wants to build his or her knowledge to a higher level. If you are comfortable with LANs and networks and have at least a passing familiarity with wireless networks, A Field Guide to Wireless LANs for Administrators and Power Users can help you expand your knowledge.

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