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:
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.