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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux in a Windows World
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Roderick W. Smith
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The book does a great job with the target audience...


O'Reilly has a nice book that fills the niche of Windows admins looking on how to apply Linux to their environment. The book is Linux In A Windows World by Roderick W. Smith.

Chapter List:
Part 1 - Linux's Place in a Windows Network: Linux's Features; Linux Deployment Strategies
Part 2 - Sharing Files and Printers: Basic Samba Configuration; File and Printer Shares; Managing a NetBIOS Network with Samba; Linux as an SMB/CIFS Client
Part 3 - Centralized Authentication Tools: Using NT Domains for Linux Authentication; Using LDAP; Kerberos Configuration and Use
Part 4 - Remote Login Tools: Remote Text-Mode Administration and Use; Running GUI Programs Remotely; Linux Thin Client Configurations
Part 5 - Additional Server Programs: Configuring Mail Servers; Network Backups; Managing a Network with Linux
Part 6 - Appendixes: Configuring PAM; Linux on the Desktop

The thing that I like most about this book is that the author picks a target audience and purposes, and then successfully fights the temptation to try and tell too much. He's writing for a Windows administrator with a basic understanding of Linux administration. The book is designed to help that person figure out how best to integrate Linux into that network environment *without* being an end-all guide to every people of software mentioned. He's very open about the fact that if you want to do more than the basics, you'll probably need to get specific books to explore that area. And that's OK. If he wanted to write a 1500 page book, he could have expanded the target. But what he covers in less than 500 pages is excellent.

If I were a Windows admin who wanted to figure out how to blend in Linux for certain task, this would be one of two books that I'd want. This one would show me what I could do, and the other book would have the in-depth details of how to do it. If you fit the target of this book, you'll do well to check this book out.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, Second Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bruce Schneier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A bit out of date, but highly worth reading


Bruce Schneier's APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY is an excellent book for anyone interested in cryptology from an amateur level to actually being involved in the development of new encryption mechanisms. Schneier's book begins with a simple discussion of what is cryptography, and then he proceeds through the history of various encryption algorithms and their functioning. The last portion of the book contains C code for several public-domain encryption algorithms.
A caveat: this is not a textbook of cryptography in the sense that it teaches everything necessary to understand the mathematical basis of the science. Schneier does not discuss number theory because he expects those who use the relevant chapters of the book will already have training in higher maths. Nonetheless, the book does contain a wealth of information even for the layman.
One helpful part of Schneier's book is his opinion of which encryption algorithms are already broken by the National Security Agency, thus letting the reader know which encryption programs to avoid. There will always be people who encrypt to 40-bit DES even though it is flimsy and nearly instantly breakable, but the readers of APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY can greatly improve the confidentiality of their messages and data with this book. Discussion of public-key web-of-trust is essential reading for anyone confused by how public-key signatures work.
APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY was published in 1995 and some parts are already out of date. It is ironic that he hardly mentions PGP, when PGP went on to become the most renowned military-strength encryption program available to the public, although it is being superseded by GnuPG. Another anachronism is Schneier's assurance that quantum computing is decades away. In the years since publication of APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY we have seen some strides in quantum computer, even the creation of a quantum computer that can factor the number 15. While this publicly known quantum computer is not at all anything to get excited about, it is certain that more powerful quantum computers are in development and classified by NSA. Because a quantum computer can break virtually any traditional cipher, hiding the message (steganography) is becoming more important than ever. In the era of Schneier's book steganography was unnecessary because ciphertext could withstand brute-force attacks, but with advances in computing power steganography is becoming vital to secure communications. It would be nice to see the book updated with this topic, because cryptography and steganography can no longer be regarded as two distinct fields.
All in all, in spite of its age, APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY is recommended to anyone interested in cryptography. It ranks among the essential books on the field, although an updated version is certainly hoped for.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Stuart J. Russell, Peter Norvig
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Comprehensive


This was my introductory text to AI and I admit that I've read only the first edition of this book. However, while browsing through the 2nd edition in a bookstore I found that the things that annoy me are still there - the pervasive taxonomy of tomatoes and the simplistic philosophy are just not appropriate for a book that tends to be considered the Bible of AI.
It is otherwise a great and well-targeted book and I enjoyed reading it. The second edition seems to have grown a bit bigger, including such topics as the EM algorithm, which I find very good.
I heartily recommend it to anyone new to AI, except if you're really afraid of finding out how tomatoes are classified :)



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C: A Reference Manual (5th Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Samuel P. Harbison, Guy L. Steele
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The only reference on my shelf


I had space for one C reference book in my bookshelf but it never reached there. This book is a constant reference for me when checking replies in the comp.lang.c newgroup (and we all know how picky they are there).
This is without doubt the best C reference book on the market today. Accept no substitute.