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I'm a developer with a solid understanding of TCP/IP. I've also done some Linux sys and network administration. I now need to set up some complicated LANs, and that means learning things like switches and routers (which I have some familiarity with but am no expert) plus all the modern things like VLANs and managed switches (which I've never touched).

I'm looking for a good book on networks and network device. What I'd like is: 1. Detail rich 2. Not for novices - I don't need handholding, and I don't need screenshots. 3. That will give me understanding, not list recipes to follow.

In short, I'd like to really understand everything from ATM to RIP to VLAN, so that I can build and maintain tough LANs.

What books do you recommend? What is their approach?

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Network Warrior was written with a heavy Cisco focus, but conceptually was probably the most easily-understood, concisely-written book on the subject of networking that I've ever read. It's practical, and written so you understand how to solve real problems, but it's not written as a list of step-by-step directions. It sounds like it fits the bill.

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+1 network warrior one of the few tech books i've read cover to cover – Zypher Dec 16 '10 at 3:19
Network Warrior is thoroughly great, though completely Cisco-centric. If that works for you, you'd do well to pick it up. – medina Dec 16 '10 at 4:26
Hmmm... my equipment is actually Cisco-less; I'm a bit nervous about a book designed for CCNA. I found Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols (Addison Wesley) on Amazon - anyone have any experience with it? – SRobertJames Dec 17 '10 at 1:59

Couple of books I have on my shelf:

Network Warrior

CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide

Also you can't go wrong with the Cisco Exam Prep Stuff

I know it's cisco centric, but that's what I learned on, and know the best.

Also if you are going with cisco gear Check out GNS3 It'll let you virtually model your network first (You need to bring your own IOS images)

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+1 for the concurrent Network Warrior mention :) – jgoldschrafe Dec 16 '10 at 3:19

I have read earlier versions of Andrew Tanenbaum's Computer Networks. At the time, VLANs weren't really among us (this would've been mid-90s), but ATM, Frame Relay and quite a few other network protocols (including Ethernet and Token Ring) were described to the point where I felt that I understood how they worked and were transmitted on the wire.

However, it doesn't necessarily prepare you for how to configure routers and switches.

Link to publisher's book page.

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