The Bottom Line
- Integrates numerous network administration utilities into one discussion
- Straightforward, easy to understand language, with practical usage examples
- Presents Neo - an excellent but lesser known network admin tool
- Does not contain a chapter on basic principles of network administration
- Chapter on custom tools does not do justice to the topic
- Chapter 1 briefly introduces the topic of open source network admnistration.
- Chapter 2 describes Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and SNMP tools.
- In Chapter 3, the lesser-known but useful Multi Router Traffic Generator (MRTG) tool is studied.
- Chapter 4 presents Neo - a relatively new command-line application developed by the author.
- Chapter 5 discusses NetFlow. NetFlow is an advanced monitoring feature available on some routers.
- Oak, a Unix error log analysis tool, is the subject of Chapter 6.
- Chapter 7 explains the need for service monitoring in network administration, and the 'sysmon' tool.
- Chapter 8 introduces 'tcpdump', a standard packet analyzer for Unix.
- The basic network administration tools like 'ping' and 'traceroute' are covered in Chapter 9.
- Finally, Chapter 10 discusses building of custom administration tools with shell and Perl scripting.
Guide Review - Open Source Network Administration
Most of the technologies the author documents, including SNMP, MRTG, NetFlow, and tcpdump, are well established. Good documentation on these already exists in other places. Kretchmer's main contribution here is in combining information on the disparate utilities into one place for convenience.
Kretchmer also devotes one chapter of his book to Neo, a fairly sophisticated SNMP administration tool that he created. Being a Unix command-line application, Neo is certainly not a mass-market utility. However, Neo is a good illustration of how Unix network administrators build solutions on top of technology standards and simpler utilities.
The last section of this book discusses scripting of custom tools. For more advanced administrators, scripting remains an indispensible way to craft custom solutions to solve very low-level problems in specific environments. Unfortunately, the two technologies Kretchmer focuses on, Perl and Bourne shell, are far too complex to cover adequately in a single chapter. Interested readers should study these topics in more depth utilizing other sources.