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The Protocols

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Fatbrain Review With a hands-on approach to studying, this best-selling guide explains TCP/IP protocols. In eight chapters, it provides the most thorough coverage of TCP available. It also covers the newest TCP/IP features, including multicasting, path MTU discovery and long fat pipes.

The author describes various protocols, including ARP, ICMP and UDP. He utilizes network diagnostic tools to actually show the protocols in action. He also explains how to avoid silly window syndrome (SWS) by using numerous helpful diagrams. This book gives you a broader understanding of concepts like connection establishment, timeout, retransmission and fragmentation. It is ideal for anyone wanting to gain a greater understanding of how the TCP/IP protocols work.

600 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 1993

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W. Richard Stevens

25 books64 followers

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5 stars
687 (53%)
4 stars
365 (28%)
3 stars
172 (13%)
2 stars
37 (2%)
1 star
14 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
35 reviews3 followers
October 5, 2012
Didn't understand TCP/IP very well (despite a college-level networking course) before reading this book. Now I am basically like Neo in the Matrix.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,480 followers
January 26, 2017
A classic like all of Richard Steven's books about networking, TCP/IP Protocols Vol 1 is a critical formative text on how the internet was created. As I have said elsewhere, without TCP/IP there would be no Google, no Facebook, and no Drumpf? Oops...
2 reviews3 followers
February 24, 2010
The first technical book I read. There is no better introduction to Network Protocols for beginners - both for technical and non-technical folks. I absolutely loved it and my love affair with network continues ......
Profile Image for Casper Gasper.
15 reviews2 followers
June 21, 2010
Still one of the best books to read and study for networking, despite it's age. To give you one idea how old this book is, there is a section towards the end that lists other TCP services and there's a few lines on a new application called the World Wide Web :-)
Nevertheless, it's surprising how little has changed -- highly recommended for anyone who's involved with networks.
Profile Image for Pete.
134 reviews
March 31, 2013
If you really want to understand the TCP/IP protocol buy this book. To go even deeper get volume 2 which discusses the actual code implementation
Profile Image for Marin.
5 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2018
The range of topics covered and a level of detail that's spot on for each of them made this a dazzling cross-section of TCP/IP networking. Thanks to its numerous detailed but clear descriptions, fragments of computer networking knowledge you might have get woven together into a whole, and to-the-point details that the book is peppered with are the markers that fall into the empty spaces. The dynamics of the protocols (TCP in particular) are so well described (and illustrated!) that you get a real feel for them.

The problems this book has, I think, are attributable to the changes made in the second edition. I've never read the first, but I've skimmed over some of it. The shift in the material covered feels exactly right (the one exception - which made me sad - was ditching the routing protocols), but there were certain points in the book at which I really had to summon my resolve to push through. This happened in the DHCP & ICMP chapters, and almost all the time during the security chapter (EAP, IKE and DNSSEC are vivid examples). Why did this happen? I think the reason is that the writing got too terse and convoluted, and didn't have the same quality that Stevens' writing exhibits. The wording and flow demonstrate that the topic is very easy for Kevin R. Fall, but unless you already know what he's talking about, you'll only too often be struggling to keep up. Then you'll fail and reread whole paragraphs that are unfortunately written with the density of mathematical proofs.

I can't hold that against the book though, and I'd still read the second edition over the first. There are some challenges, but there's so much to like!
Profile Image for Scott Holstad.
Author 23 books60 followers
December 27, 2020
This was both incredibly essential and a life saver for me when this came out. At the time, I had just completed a graduate degree in an entirely different field, but somehow found myself trying to handle two small SCO networks, as well as networking some Power Macs and, funny, some old XTs and ATs -- with no formal training or education. I'd had my own computers since 1982, used my first modem in 1980, had been crawling all over the BBS's, learning networking on my own, and all telephony, but while I started taking actual formal classes at a nearby major university, I was also expanding my familiarity with additional UNIX flavors and thinking of starting my own business revolving around this fairly new thing called the WWW which all the suckers were being told they "had to be on" and since there wasn't much competition back then in that line of work, you could charge a freaking fortune and they'd pay. But in order to do that, most of the time I had to teach these clients WHAT the Internet was (not the WWW of course), how it worked (thus a more formal need for comprehensive understanding of the TCP/IP stack, and thus this book), different types of networking, security issues, how to use basic apps for email, ftp, Usenet news, browsers of course, and then well, everything. And because these clients were geographically spread out all over the country and back then there really was no consumer broadband, I had to get accounts with 25+ ISPs, which all used various POPs of course, which was also "awesome" to try to educate newbies on, as well as modems and everything, but I had to get those accounts and test them regularly so I could advise a San Francisco client which of several had the most local POPs, most dependable re up time, etc., as well as Knoxville, Wilmington DE, etc. While I knew much on my own from nearly 15 years of experimenting and even though I had taken many programing classes, as well as recently some UNIX classes, I needed the formal, comprehensive, structured knowledge of the various protocols in order to best serve my customers while continuing to grow professionally myself. I have several "classics" back then that I've always felt I couldn't have made it without, and this is one of them. So very recommended, even though outdated, because of its historical implications and because the foundations it was built on still exist and thus this remains relevant. (One of my other -- essential -- favorites from that period remains Roger L. Freeman's Telecommunication System Engineering [Wiley, 1996] and I can't recommend that enough, although at over 1,000 pages, busy people may be hard pressed to find the time necessary to make it all the way through. For anyone interested, while there is some redundant crossover, I always viewed this as fairly complementary to the Stevens book here, and I gave both five stars and both are in my Favorites bookshelf, so again, anyone whose interest lies in this field could do no better than those two books, IMO). Both strongly recommended!
18 reviews1 follower
December 7, 2007
This book is essential for anyone who needs to understand TCP/IP and related protocols. This includes network engineers. Yes, you. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you know all about routing protocols and what else is there to running routers besides that and ACLs? Well, you're wrong and you should feel bad for thinking that. Lots of stuff goes across routers, this post, my last Amazon order. All of it uses fundamentals covered in this book, and understanding how the transport layer works gives you a leg up when designing networks. Pick this up (or the Douglas E. Comer book) and love it. The worst case scenario is that you hate it. Since it's hardcover you can use it to hit people who tell you that something is broken and it's a network problem. ;)
Profile Image for Sean S.
436 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2019
The Protocols a.k.a "Fantastic Protocols and How to Find Bugs in Them"

This blast from the past is awesome for the following reasons:
* It is a snapshot into a bygone era of the first stirrings of the Internet, and how people "normally" shared files and information during this time
* The author is exceptionally thorough and logical in his analysis of each feature, and his testing methodology is reasonable and reproducible
* Some of the information in this book (a fair bit) is quite outdated, but the fundamentals are not, especially the common protocol information, and especially the TCP information
* Systems during this time were slow enough to expose the state machine of some of the protocols in an easy fashion
* Insights and exposure into how these protocols were implemented, despite RFC standard (computing truly was like the wild west), usually resulting from hardware limitations, processing overhead restrictions, or just because they wanted to.

Excellent read, and a good reference for the fundamentals and history alike.
Profile Image for Drobinsky Alexander.
47 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2019
Clear simple explanation of IP protocols / Ethernet essentials / BOOTP / TFTP / DNS / UDP and of course TCP protocols. It would be nice if author would perform cleaning e.g. remove obsolete protocols & outdated versions of TCP implementations while dedicate some time to review of newer protocols including routing protocols such as MPLS.
Profile Image for Sean Rich.
24 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2021
This book was hard to get through, but I sure as hell know TCP/IP now. Wouldn’t really read it again (too long) but a fantastic read for anyone trying to get into networking
Profile Image for Kai Weber.
415 reviews26 followers
May 29, 2015
Another example of a book about computer technology that is outdated and a good read at once. The middle layers of network technology are described in minute detail, at just the right level of abstraction. This book (originally published in around 1994 I think) predates the advent of something like search engines for the WWW by years, and yet all the technologies described are still relevant today - or at least still working under the hood of other things. ifconfig, tcpdump, arp are commands that my Linux shell still understands today.
The thread binding the whole book together is the author's intent to not just describe, but to actually show what's happening when you're running this or that (inter)network protocol. Examples are first described, then explained. This didactical impetus makes this book timeless - at least as long as we are still relying on TCP, UDP, IP, DHCP and their brothers and sisters
Profile Image for Ivan Idris.
Author 12 books23 followers
January 9, 2012
This is a fantastic textbook about different network protocols. The protocols are illustrated using the output of tcpdump and other utilities. Protocols discussed include:

IP
ARP
RARP
ICMP
UDP
IGMP
TFTP
BOOTP
TCP
SNMP
FTP
SMTP

Beside the protocols several diagnostic tools such as ping and traceroute are covered in detail. The book contains lots of diagrams, that illustrate the protocols even further. Each chapter ends with exercises. The solutions of some of those exercises can be found in the book as well. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.
Profile Image for Jon Swanson.
79 reviews5 followers
April 4, 2012
Best technical writing I've ever read.

Stevens starts at the bottom of the networking stack and works the way up, explaining each component in a way that is both detailed and interesting. Each chapter is filled with lucid examples and makes you understand how all of the pieces come together.

It's an older book, but still very relevant. Have yet to find a better text on the fundamentals of networking.
212 reviews40 followers
October 26, 2018
Stevens had an amazing ability to simply and clearly explain technical topics that can be quite complex. While I knew quite a bit about the TCP/IP protocol stack this book helped pull this topic together in a more complete way that I could have on my own, or by reading several other books. I still find myself regularly reaching for this book (or the other 3 in the series).
5 reviews2 followers
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September 28, 2010
This is one of the most important books for anyone working with Internet protocols to read.
Profile Image for Plamen.
6 reviews
May 1, 2011
The book gives good understanding about basic network protocols (especially TCP). It is quite old and there are many new working protocols today which are not included.
20 reviews
July 21, 2011
Good reference book, nicely written and easily to understand, definitely must-read book for understanding network protocol and very handy to pick up whenever you need.
1 review
May 10, 2013
i want read this book for impurving my knowledge on networking
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kurt.
37 reviews
June 7, 2013
compulsory reading to work on the internet.
Profile Image for David.
1,035 reviews40 followers
September 17, 2013
The classic text. It both stands the test of time, and is also out of date (yeah, I know that doesn't make sense). I recommend Kozierok's TCP/IP Guide as a worthy successor.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews

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