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This latest release of Interconnections is a competent update of a networking classic. Radia Perlman explains hundreds of details about getting computers--and computer networks--to talk to one another smoothly, accurately, and efficiently. Perlman, inventor of the spanning-tree bridging algorithm, covers the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) reference model, bridges, switches, hubs, Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), plus connection-based and connectionless networks. She also does a great job of explaining the underpinnings of internetworking protocols, including packet format, addressing, routing (both generically and in terms of RIP, RTMP, OSPF, and other protocols), and security. There's plenty of IPv6 information here, mostly from a theoretical vantage point.
The best parts of Perlman's approach to her subject are the little thought experiments that explain why various aspects of internetworking behave the way they do. For example, Perlman talks about Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) discovery by presenting four different hypotheses for figuring out MTU. For each possible solution, she discusses strengths, weaknesses, and real-life considerations. She applies this method to dozens of other problems and phenomena, making Interconnections a very close approximation of learning by experiment. --David Wall
Topics covered: Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) reference model, bridges, switches, hubs, Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), and internetworking protocols. [via]