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Advanced Linux Networking

by Roderick W. Smith

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Book Description

Increasingly, Linux is used to drive networks in mission-critical environments -- and system/network administrators working in those environments must have far deeper expertise than ever before. Advanced Linux Networking picks up where conventional Linux books leave off, helping experienced Linux system and network administrators accomplish more -- and solve more problems -- than they can with any other book. Its breadth and depth make it an exceptional single-volume reference for every Linux professional. The book is structured into four sections, each essential to the working Linux administrator: Low-Level Configuration, Local Network Servers, Internet Servers, and Network Security and Router Functions. In-depth coverage includes: kernel and TCP/IP configuration, alternative network stacks, server startup scripting, DHCP configuration, Kerberos authentication, printer sharing, mail protocols, remote login servers, GUI access, remote system administration, network backups, iptables firewalls, and VPNs. The book's extensive section on Internet services shows how to handle virtual domains and secure sites; analyze Apache log files; and run FTP servers; and contains detailed coverage of SMTP-based email systems. Among the topics covered in exceptional depth: configuring Kerberos; running time servers, font servers, and chroot jails; and using Samba's scripting capabilities to burn CDs and create PDFs. For every experienced Linux system or network administrator, and for Linux power users with network-related responsibilities.

Book Info
Focuses on powerful techniques and features of Linux networking and provides you with the know-how you need to improve server efficiency, enhance security, and adapt to new requirements. Softcover.

From the Back Cover

With an increasing number of networks and mission-critical applications running on Linux, system and network administrators must be able to do more than set up a server and rely on its default configuration. Advanced Linux Networking is designed to help you achieve a higher level of competence. It focuses on powerful techniques and features of Linux networking and provides you with the know-how you need to improve server efficiency, enhance security, and adapt to new requirements.

This book begins with a brief introduction to low-level configuration, including a guide to getting your network up and running. Part II outlines those servers and procedures most likely to be used by the computers on your local network: DHCP servers, Kerberos, Samba, time servers, and network backups, among others. Part III covers Internet servers: DNS, SMTP (sendmail, Postfix, and Exim), Apache, and FTP servers. Part IV examines network security, exploring such topics as using a chroot jail, iptables configuration, and VPNs. Wherever pertinent, the author addresses the differences between Caldera OpenLinux, Debian GNU/Linux, Mandrake, Red Hat, Slackware, SuSE, and TurboLinux.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Configuring small but potentially important servers quickly and easily
  • Optimizing Linux network operation
  • Using advanced system features effectively
  • Using systems and software in alternative ways to reach your goals
  • Avoiding possible damage to your system and violations of ISP policies
  • Securing your system

    Advanced Linux Networking is the single-volume tutorial and reference for Linux networking that will help you achieve expert status.


  • About the Author

    Roderick W. Smith is an experienced Linux user and system administrator. He is also a professional computer book author whose titles include: Broadband Internet Connections (Addison-Wesley, 2002), Linux Samba Server Administration (Sybex, 2001), The Multi-Boot Configuration Handbook (Que, 2000), and Linux: Networking for Your Office (SAMS, 2000). Roderick holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Tufts University.


    Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

    Computer networks have changed our lives. They grew slowly, and mostly unnoticed, in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, though, something happened. Perhaps it was the availability of the World Wide Web (WWW, or Web) and graphical Web browsers, which made computer networks accessible to Grandma Dorothy and Uncle Stan. Maybe it was that the availability of network connections had reached a critical threshold. Perhaps the quality and quantity of network-enabled software passed a critical threshold. Possibly it was two or all three of these things, or something else entirely. In any event, networks became noticeable. Most importantly, the Internet became noticeable.

    The Internet comprises millions of computers, many of which run servers—software packages designed to listen for and respond to data transfer requests from other computers. Because the protocols upon which the Internet was built were designed to work in a cross-platform manner, both Internet clients and the servers they use run on many different platforms. One of the most popular of these is Linux. Coupled with inexpensive x86 hardware, Linux makes a very cost-effective server platform for small and mid-sized sites. Indeed, with increasing computer performance and Linux versions working their way up the computer performance hierarchy, Linux is beginning to make inroads into the large server market. Thus, with Linux on everything from tiny network appliances to large servers, knowing how to set up and maintain a Linux server system is an important skill for networking professionals today.

    Which servers, though? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual server programs. Most general-purpose Linux networking books focus on a handful of popular servers—Web (HTTP) servers like Apache, login servers like Telnet and SSH, file servers like NFS and Samba, and a few others. These books present enough information to get a user up and running, but little more. They also give short shrift to servers that are less visible but that are often extremely important, like DHCP servers, time servers, and Kerberos. This book takes a different approach to Linux networking: I assume that you know at least a minimal amount about Linux and networking in general, and you want to take you skills to a higher level. Although this book does cover the “usual suspects,” it spends less time introducing the basics and more time describing advanced or unusual configurations. This book also covers some of the servers and topics that are neglected in most entry-level Linux networking books. The result is the closest thing possible to a book that’s both a general Linux networking book and an advanced Linux networking book.

    To be sure, you won’t learn everything there is to know about complex packages like Apache or Samba in this book. The relevant chapters provide quick introductions to these tools, a summary of some popular techniques you won’t find covered in other introductory Linux networking books, and pointers to additional resources. This book’s approach is to be a general-purpose Linux networking book for people who are not novices.

    Who Should Buy This Book

    This book is designed to be an advanced tutorial and reference for those with some Linux networking experience, or at least some Linux and some networking experience. The first few chapters cover low-level configuration, including such factors as getting the network up and running to begin with; but I assume you’re already familiar with Linux, or at least UNIX, and with basic networking terminology. If you’re not familiar with these things, an introductory Linux system administration book, such as Marcel Gagné’s Linux System Administration: A User’s Guide (Addison-Wesley, 2002) or Vicki Stanfield’s and my Linux System Administration (Sybex, 2001) should help fill in the gaps.

    If you want to learn a bit more about big servers like Apache or Samba but don’t want to buy dedicated books for them, or if you want to learn about the small but potentially important servers like xntpd or xfs, then this is the book for you. This book also covers miscellaneous networking topics, like how to start and stop servers, backing up a network, running a server in a chroot jail, and using iptables. Knowing these topics will help fill out your networking knowledge base and make you better able to adapt to new requirements and generally improve the networks you administer.

    In writing this book, I imagined the audience to be administrators of small or mid-sized networks. Your network might be dominated by Linux, UNIX, Windows, MacOS, or something even more exotic, but of course you’ve got at least one Linux system. Most chapters describe the basic principles upon which a tool is built and then describe how to use the tool. You should, therefore, be able to learn a lot about the tools by reading this book, but you can also use this book as a quick reference. I aim for this to be the book you would choose if you could have just one Linux networking book.

    Linux Distributions

    One of the challenges of administering Linux is that Linux isn’t a single OS. Instead, it’s a collection of OSs, all built around the same kernel. Each of these variant OSs is known as a distribution. A distribution consists of a Linux kernel; a distribution-specific installation program; a wide assortment of support tools, user programs, and so on; and a set of default startup and configuration scripts. Different distributions frequently use different versions of the Linux kernel and of support programs. Indeed, they sometimes ship with different programs entirely to fill particular roles, such as sendmail, Exim, or Postfix for a mail server. For these reasons, Linux distributions can vary substantially in overall feel and in many administrative details.

    Many books on Linux fail to address the variability among Linux distributions. They intentionally focus on just one distribution, or provide coverage of others in a cursory manner. One of the goals of this book, though, is to cover several of the most popular Linux distributions explicitly. Specifically, I cover Caldera OpenLinux 3.1, Debian GNU/Linux 2.2, Mandrake 8.1, Red Hat 7.2, Slackware 7.0, SuSE 7.3, and TurboLinux 7.0. To be sure, I can’t cover every detail for each of these OSs, but I point out where they differ in important ways, such as where each places network startup scripts and what FTP servers each includes. Some chapters—notably those on server startup tools, LPD print servers, SMTP mail servers, and FTP servers—cover multiple servers in order to be applicable to the default configurations for each of these seven major Linux distributions.

    How This Book Is Organized

    This book is broken down into four parts of four to thirteen chapters. The structure represents the assumption that your network includes some servers that are used primarily by local users and others that are exposed to the Internet at large, but of course some servers can do double duty, so the placement of some servers may not reflect the configuration on your network. The book’s four parts are as follows:

  • Part I: Low-Level Configuration—This part is the shortest, at only four chapters. It covers kernel network configuration options, basic TCP/IP network configuration, network stacks, and starting servers.
  • Part II: Local Network Servers—This part covers servers and procedures that are most likely to be used by other computers on your local network. This includes DHCP servers, Kerberos, Samba, NFS servers, printing with LPD, time servers, POP and IMAP mail servers, news servers, remote login servers, X and VNC servers, font servers, remote administration servers, and network backups.
  • Part III: Internet Servers—These chapters cover servers that are often accessible to the world at large. Topics include DNS servers, SMTP mail servers, Web servers, and FTP servers.
  • Part IV: Network Security and Router Functions—This part diverges from the emphasis on servers as distinct topics for chapters and focuses on network security. Topics include a general look at network security, using a chroot jail, configuring advanced router functions, using iptables for firewall and NAT purposes, and setting up a VPN.
  • Contacting Me

    If you have questions or comments about this book, I can be reached at rodsmith@rodsbooks.com. I also maintain a Web page about the book at http://www.rodsbooks.com/adv-net/.




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