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I am wondering if anyone can recommend resources on networking I don't mind if they are books or web pages. I just want to start learning a bit more about it as I want to take a gap year as a System Administrator or a IT Tech. I have experience programming and have been doing so for many years however i'm not a graduate so unlikely to get a software development job.
Thanks in Advance,
Dean

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7 Answers

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You can read as many books and websites as you want, but you're not going to really learn until you do some hands on work. Get yourself some cheap switches and/or routers on Ebay or somewhere and set yourself a home lab and start playing. Set yourself some projects and some goals, then when you get into problems, start looking for the solutions online or in books. Come here and we will help you out.

That said, why would you need a degree to get a Software development job? I know many many highly skilled software developers who have no degrees, and no need for one as they have experience. I also know many people coming out of university with a degree in software development that I wouldn't trust programming my TV. Systems administration is no easier, or less complicated than programming, and you're only going to enjoy it if it's actually what you want to do. If you're settling for being a sysadmin when you really want to be a developer, you're going to hate it.

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You're both absolutely correct. The degree is to get past the less-than-qualified HR who is typically in control of the first rounds of qualification. With that situation being the sad fact of life, we have a ton of paper-tigers who are in positions that they definitely do not qualify for, but they have the degree which the HR folks as well as the less-than-perfect enabling process has deemed as proof of qualification or better/more potential than the other person without the degree... –  user48838 Sep 12 '10 at 22:59
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Personally, I wouldn't want to work somewhere that having a degree mattered. –  Evan Anderson Sep 13 '10 at 1:57
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One of the "bast bang for the buck" would be to acquire a layer 3 switch. A ton of networking technologies in one box - switching and routing. If you can find any in stock, Asus has a very capable layer 3 switch for under $100 USD. It's not a Cisco, but has a very comparable technologies/features line-up and will at least provide you a chance towards good/meaningful exposure.

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TCP/IP Illustrated - the networking bible

CISCO has good docs on networking

A Linux/BSD box to practice

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My recommendation is the book Computer Networks by Tanenbaum... gives a great overview of networking functionality and protocols - I found this an excellent book to actually read cover-to-cover, and you can fill in the gaps by googling. It won't make you an expert overnight, but will give you a superb grounding. I originally read it as part of my degree and have bought the 2 new editions since.

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I suggest you get hold of a copy of cisco packet tracer software which is a sort of virtual network simulation. It'll teach you how to setup routers and switches, including right down to the actual commands you need to run on them (cisco gear, anyway). It'll also go a far way towards helping if you decide to do a CCNA or similar in the future.

Might be worth picking up an old ccna cisco book off amazon second hand also - very helpful books.

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If you want to get into the Sysadmin Job you have to know very well the basics of how a network functions and this can also help you if you go the developer way.

You can find a very comprehensive tutorial about how a network works in Networking Fundamentals by Juniper. I hope you will find this a easy as i did.

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I found this HOWTO very useful:

After that, I learned volumes from m0n0wall and pfSense.

Perhaps you can learn from these resources as well!

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