September 23, 2005
Cisco IOS in a Nutshell, Second Edition: Newly Revised--The Network Administrator's Guide to Cisco Commands
Sebastopol, CA--If you work with Cisco routers, it's likely that you use
the Internetwork Operating System, or IOS--an extremely powerful and
complex operating system with an equally complex configuration language.
With a cryptic command-line interface and thousands of commands, IOS
doesn't have a reputation for being user-friendly. Yet, as the unifying
thread that runs through virtually all Cisco's immense product line, it's
difficult to avoid. James Boney, author of Cisco IOS in a Nutshell, Second Edition (O'Reilly $39.95), observes that this is both an advantage
and a disadvantage.
"On the one hand," Boney observes, "when you're familiar with one Cisco
router, you're reasonably familiar with them all. Someone using a small
DSL router in a home office could look at a configuration file for a
high-end router at an ISP and not be lost." Boney adds that while that
person may not understand how to configure the more esoteric routing
protocols or high-speed network interfaces, he'd be looking at a language
that was recognizable all the same.
On the other hand, this uniformity means that just about everything has
been crammed into IOS at one time or another. "IOS is massive," says
Boney. "There's no other way to say it. And it has evolved over many
years. The command-line interface isn't graceful and is often non-uniform:
many commands don't do what you think they should, and the same command
verbs can mean completely different things in different contexts." The
volume of documentation available is daunting; with tens of thousands of
pages of information, finding what you need to know is a challenge. And
of course, getting to Cisco's online documentation may be impossible if
your router doesn't work.
"That's why I wrote this book," Boney explains. "It is primarily a quick
reference to the commands that are most frequently needed to configure
Cisco routers for standard IP routing tasks. This is far from a complete
quick ref to all of IOS--such a quick ref would be well over 2000 pages
long, and clearly too long to be useful. Therefore, I haven't attempted to
cover protocols other than IP (although there is support for everything
from AppleTalk to SNA), nor any of the more exotic creatures in the IP
Above all, says Boney, "This is a network administrator's book: it
represents practical experience with IP routing on Cisco routers and
covers the commands that you're likely to need."
Cisco IOS in a Nutshell consolidates the most important commands and
features of IOS into a single volume. The new edition has been revised an
expanded to cover features that were integrated into Cisco's latest major
release, 12.3, along with highlights from minor release 12.4. Some of the
new features are AutoSecure, AutoQoS, and the new IOS naming model. Other
sections have been expanded to include IS-IS routing, MPLS, new hardware
types, while new chapters have been added to cover quality-of-service and
multi-casting. Unlike the previous edition, the book also covers
non-routing topics, such as VLANs and switching.
The book begins with a brief, example-oriented tutorial that shows how to
accomplish common tasks. The bulk of the book is the quick-reference guide
to commands. Brief descriptions and lists of options guide the network
administrator through figuring out what commands are needed to accomplish
any task, from setting up a serial interface to using applications such as
packet filtering, address translation, and traffic prioritization.
Cisco IOS in a Nutshell may not be the only book a network
administrator will ever need on Cisco, but it is one that will be heavily
Cisco IOS in a Nutshell, Second Edition
ISBN: 0-596-00869-4, 779 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
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