As we all know by now, wireless networks offer many advantages over fixed (or wired) networks. Foremost on that list is mobility, since going wireless frees you from the tether of an Ethernet cable at a desk. But that's just the tip of the cable-free iceberg. Wireless networks are also more flexible, faster and easier for you to use, and more affordable to deploy and maintain. The de facto standard for wireless networking is the 802.11 protocol, which includes Wi-Fi (the wireless standard known as 802.11b) and its faster cousin, 802.11g. With easy-to-install 802.11 network hardware available everywhere you turn, the choice seems simple, and many people dive into wireless computing with less thought and planning than they'd give to a wired network. But it's wise to be familiar with both the capabilities and risks associated with the 802.11 protocols. And 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition is the perfect place to start. This updated edition covers everything you'll ever need to know about wireless technology. Designed with the system administrator or serious home user in mind, it's a no-nonsense guide for setting up 802.11 on Windows and Linux. Among the wide range of topics covered are discussions on: deployment considerations network monitoring and performance tuning wireless security issues how to use and select access points network monitoring essentials wireless card configuration security issues unique to wireless networks With wireless technology, the advantages to its users are indeed plentiful. Companies no longer have to deal with the hassle and expense of wiring buildings, and households with several computers can avoid fights over who's online. And now, with 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition, you can integrate wireless technology into your current infrastructure with the utmost confidence.
Among network designers and administrators, wired Ethernet is a known quantity. Plenty is known about how to build good twisted-pair network infrastructures, how to keep them secure, and how to monitor their excess capacity. Not so for the wireless Ethernet networks (built around the IEEE 802.11x standards)--these hold much more mystery for even experienced network designers. 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide aims to codify the body of knowledge needed to design and maintain wireless local area networks (LANs). The authors succeed admirably in this, covering what installation and administration teams need to know and digging into information of use to driver writers and others working at lower levels.
The only significant detail that's been excluded has to do with security--a notorious weak point of 802.11x LANs. The authors cover the feeble but widely used Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) authentication protocol in detail and devote another whole chapter to 802.1x, which is an emerging authentication scheme based on Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). The author has considerable skill in communicating information graphically and does a great job of using graphs to show how communications frequencies shift over time and how conversations among access points and network nodes progress over time. This is indeed an authoritative document. --David Wall
Topics covered: How IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b wireless networks (also known as WiFi networks) work, and how to configure your own. The framing specification is covered well, as are authentication protocols and (in detail) the physical phenomena that affect IEEE 802.11x radio transmissions. There's advice on how to design a wireless network topology, and how to go about network traffic analysis and performance improvement.