Author Topic: Good book suggestions to give me the best overview of networking and internet  (Read 1235 times)

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Offline Ampera

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So I'm getting sick and tired of not knowing what the hell I'm doing with networks. I run a pfSense router, and some nice doohickeys with it, but I'm kinda annoyed that
I'm just bumbling around and don't really know how it actually works. In my mind, the best way to fix that is to get some actual paper books to read, so I can finally
learn how this stuff works.

I'm asking specifically for good, reasonably detailed, not overly simplified books I can buy on Amazon US (or some easy to shop place if I must) that detail the following things (doesn't need to be just one book)

How networks and the internet work from a physical, structural, and philosophical perspective
Unix networking, how it worked back then, and how it works today
IPv6 design philosophy and structures, how it's put together, how I can use it efficiently
NAT, Routing, DHCP, DNS, Proxies, everything I need to have fun
TLS/SSL and security in general, how things are secured, and how I can secure them
Basics of popular protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, IMAP/POP3, VPNs, the things we use every day
(Bonus Points) networking on OpenBSD, with emphasis (or just being about) pf

The goal is to eventually know enough to where I can set up my own OpenBSD replacement for pfSense I've configured myself, knowing fully how all the components work. Take that to mean Unix is a good frame of reference
here, as that's what I'm used to, but I also know that nothing is in a vacuum, and other systems had tons of influence and are still relevant today, even if it's historical.

I know this is a lot, but this is genuinely how I learn best, by starting at the bottom and working my way to the top. I hope this isn't to weird, and that it's known that I understand the first part of learning something new is saying I don't know.

Thanks for any pointers.
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Offline rdl

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A couple of years ago I bought a book for the same reason. Computer Networking: A Top Down Approach (Kurose and Ross). Most likely I bought it based on Amazon reviews. I've gone through it several times, but something about the writing style just doesn't click with me. While I did learn a lot, I think watching Eli the Computer Guy's series on youtube was nearly as beneficial.
 

Offline ichtier

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Hi there,

yes, that's a lot and from a networking point of view a bit all over the place.
A long time i did not understood, why i was bothered with one thing, but the more time i spend as specialist for networking systems (appliances, not servers), the more i get why it is useful and important to understand it. I think it is also good for orientation in your situation: The OSI model (Actual only one routing protocol follows it strictly, but you will be fine with a 4 or 5 layer IP model.)
In germany for sure, but i think mostly all over the word people in my working area start with the Cisco CCNA certification. Of course it's focused on this vendor (and the marketing blabla is sometimes a bit annoying), but the way networks downwards from application layer work are well standardized. So the technical mechanisms there are similar for all systems. Maybe the preparation books for the CCNA will give you a good entry - besides the fact that they are vendor specific they are technically quite solid.

note: Juniper may be more appropriate, cause these machines worl with a real linux (you also get the shell when your are one such a system) while Cisco is complete closed (they may write there stuff from scratch). The equal certification level would be around JNCIA . "JNCIA: Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate Study Guide"

Have not read this particular book, but Addison Wesley do serious stuff (not the cheapest) and the two authors are CCIEs (second highest Cisco level) "Computer Networking Problems and Solutions: An innovative approach to building resilient, modern networks".
« Last Edit: December 20, 2020, 09:46:58 pm by ichtier »
 

Offline bobcat2000

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This was the book they used in my school to teach networking.
This was the most super easy to read and understand book compared to the other books the teachers made me to read IMO.

Computer Networks by Andrew S. Tanenbaum

https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Networks-Andrew-S-Tanenbaum-ebook/dp/B006Y1BKGC
 
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Offline nightfire

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Another classic and a "must-read" for every Unix/Linux Admin a few years back:
Craig Hunt, TCP/IP Network Administration
 https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/tcpip-network-administration/0596002971/ 

Covers a lot of the very basics, so the Admin is able to understand what todays Systems are hiding from us beneath their fancy GUI...
(Yes, I did my "rite of passage" in compiling the SMP kernel of my FreeBSD machine myself and edited a sendmail.cf file without m4 macros. Wow, I'm getting old...)
 

Offline rodpp

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Offline cdev

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I think @borjam recommended that book to me, I also found it to be exceptionally well written and clear.

This was the book they used in my school to teach networking.
This was the most super easy to read and understand book compared to the other books the teachers made me to read IMO.

Computer Networks by Andrew S. Tanenbaum

https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Networks-Andrew-S-Tanenbaum-ebook/dp/B006Y1BKGC
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline cdev

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I wanted to throw in an RIP for Evi Nemeth, the author of the best book on Unix and later Linux system administration, (I think its the best book) she was also an avid sailor and as of 2013, she went missing and is presumed lost when the boat "Nina" was lost in the Tasman Sea..

https://www.caida.org/home/staff/evi/
"After June 4, 2013, Evi is presumed lost at sea while sailing aboard the historic schooner "The NiƱa" with six others. The crew left from the Bay of Islands in Northern New Zealand on May 28 for a 1,200 mile journey across the Tasman Sea. Our wishes go to our dear Evi and the families of all aboard."

https://kdvr.com/news/last-text-from-missing-cu-boulder-professors-boat-sails-shredded/
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline GodIsRealUnless DefinedInt

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Another vote for TCP/IP Illustrated. That will take you down deep if you want to into the flags for the various packet encapsulation layers in case you want to then use WireShark and other protocol analyzers or else skip the deeper details until you feel you understand the bigger picture above.

I used to teach and that's one of the references I used for people that wanted to go beyond the TCP/IP corriculum I had to stick to.

I don't have a need for most of the networking books today but a more modern bible was written around 2005, THE TCP/IP GUIDE A Comprehensive, Illustrated Internet Protocols Reference. Might be hard to find today, not sure as I'm not in the market for it but the author has extremely graciously put a free copy online at http://www.tcpipguide.com/free/
 

Offline TomS_

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Thanks for any pointers.

I would suggest undertaking a CCNA course or similar. This will give you all of the fundamental knowledge of networks that you could ever hope for.

It wont cover everything you have asked for in itself, but once you understand the basics of networking then understanding how applications work on top of a network might become a bit easier to digest.
 

Offline madires

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When you choose a book make sure it also covers IPv6.
 

Offline h4x0r

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I don't want to discourage you from reading.

What I would suggest in lieu of a lot of reading is to follow a couple of tried and true methodologies.

1. Yes, get an up to date copy of TCP/IP illustrated - because it has basic coverage of topics you may not be 100% familiar with.
That is your leverage point to explore in depth topics you need to learn more about.

2. Industry standard textbooks.... now, as much as I loathe to say it, There are really only a couple of publishers out there who do this properly.

O'Rielly would be #1.   SYBEX is another.

There are online learning portals, some paid some not. Orielly has one again, Lynda has one

3. Look for basic certification texts from Juniper Networks or Cisco.  Start with a JNCIA or CCNA. If you choose to study them, you can opt for a certification. Personally I find certification at this level somewhat underwhelming and anyone with this on their resume/CV is not an interview candidate. (harsh, but true). If you endeavour to learn beyond this level - to at least JNCIP or CCNP, then you will have a respectable level of merit where knowledge alone (and zero experience) can get you a job.

I see this as valuable learning. Anything more casual than this level of understanding has potential to do more harm than good from a networking professionals viewpoint, especially with regard to privacy, security and leaving yourself or family/customers open to vulnerabilities they may not ordinarily have been exposed to.

I've been on the Vendor side of routing and firewall security in a Professional Services Consultant and Resident / Consulting Engineer roles for the last 15 years and will state at the outset that this is not an industry that stagnates. Every 6 months or so, there are quite obvious advances in the technology that sits on the basic principles of the OSI. The main issue we are all struggling with is automation, and validation.
Not just AI routing instance deployment scenarios, or standing up an sutomated provisioning service, or providing a replicable containerised framework for 3rd party consumption, but in the identification, validation and remediation of threats to the technology itself. The actual stack has limitations and most threats come from malformed packets, but there are many other exploits, and if you ever want to look at CVE's to find out just how many security vulnerabilities exist out there for vendors, then the CVE database and the NVD Databases are excellent repos for this stuff.

Broadly, in industry speak, vendors have siloed solutions to align with specific market niches. So you might find that what you want to know about applies across all-industry or only to a specific niche.
e.g. routing or WiFi.   because routing applies across almost all industry (or the capability is required by the majority), whereas Wifi is a specific type of device communication, often integrated into a networking appliance that happens to also do routing and maybe some kind of basic firewall, maybe even CoS /QoS.

There are also what I would call 'excellent' levels of implementation of the technology and principles and 'poor' levels. This can literally mean a hardware vendor choice decision, or a software install/upgrade which results in a less than favourable outcome.

If you want to understand routing, I'd suggest in addition to a TCP/IP handbook, that you also look for a vendor publisher text that works with or uses CLI examples, as most industry devices are still configured through terminal / CLI. e.g. Orielly publishes the official Juniper Networks publications (juniper staffers or ex-employees) and Cisco press are the difinitive reference for their products.
Yes there are gui's for the less serious or "monkey configs", but all professional engineers configure through CLI, whether that is ssh or oob.  It matters not whether you choose one vendor example over another - because the level of interpretation is quite easily translated once you have a good understanding of one vendor's method - e.g. If you worked on say, Juniper routing, firewalls or switching, then you can easily adapt that to Cisco routing/switching/firewalls and vice versa. Or if you can use Palo Alto firewalls, you might also be able to understand how checkpoint or fortinet work with minimal additional learning. Or if you once worked on Netscreen, then a PA FW will look like home.
So at the outset, being able to understand an interpret a CLI output and use the commands to diagnose, configure and verify is the key to understanding networking device logic.

These days it is more about the how than the what. The expectation is that you know the 'what' the problem is, the 'how' (because there are literally dozens of ways to perform the same basic task... not all are effiicient) is what is up for interpretation or 'configuration'. So again, as others have iterated, the bible is the TCP/IP handbook.

Here's some Free self-paced training
Juniper Learning Portal

Juniper Networks Certification Program

Cisco Networking Academy

Cisco Networking essentials

Word of advice:

Be Vendor agnostic.

Yes, I am a veteran on the Vendor side, but I did my time in corporate IT for some years before I 'got the invite'.
While I would always advocate the best and most efficient solution, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm an advocate for only one vendor.

Fifteen years at 'one vendor' does not mean one-eyed.  Anyone that can perform in a technical capacity in customer facing engagements for this long knows all too well that playing the vendors off against each other is unprofessional and leads to bigger problems than brand preference.

Stay away from marketing BS and corpspeak. You get a lot of that in industry tech pubs.   Stick with the technical trail and you will get a lot more fact and understanding in a far shorter period than reading up on industry web-publications. 

SOme 'less BS' websites would include The Register (security articles), and obviously reddit and look for an /r juniper or /r cisco  technical threads. Plenty of others, but be mindful of fact versus supposition.

I'm just picking the big two network vendors. I'm not suggesting there aren't others, but if you want to learn from established industry vendors, these are the two that literally run the internet between them.

best of luck with your learning.

« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 12:03:56 am by h4x0r »
regards,
Hacksaw.
 

Offline cdev

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IMHO it depends on what level of the Internet your main needs exist at but my favorie all arond book so far (the only ones that I really like) are Computer Networks by Tannenbaum and Wetherall, and the Unix / Linux System Administration book by the late Evi Nemeth. I like the first book because of its easy to understand and remember descriptions of the essentials of why things have worked out the way they have. I also find myself consulting various TCP-IP reference books a fair amount but I have not bought one yet. 
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 12:51:15 pm by cdev »
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