Book review: Cisco Routers for the Desperate

If you happen to be one of those “universal engineers” tasked with configuring a Cisco router just because you deployed a web site yesterday, you’re probably already searching for a book in the Dummies series. Once your desperation exceeds a certain threshold, you might consider the “Cisco Routers for the Desperate”.

The idea is great: give someone who hasn’t seen Cisco IOS CLI before enough knowledge to perform the basic tasks. The writing style is surprisingly good and the book is filled with well-explained printouts you might get from the router. Looks like a perfect book for the task … if only it wouldn’t be hopelessly outdated.

This is a second edition of the book; the original book was published in 2004. The data communications world has changed dramatically in the meantime … but the book hasn’t.

Are you trying to set up your home router? Bad luck. DSL (PPPoA, PPPoE or any other dialup variant), DHCP (for cable modems and FTTx deployments) or NAT (mandatory when you connect to the Internet) are not covered.

How about enterprise networking? The only WAN technology covered is T1, MPLS VPN is not mentioned at all. Oh, they do mention “VPN” in the advertised table of contents; it describes connecting two sites with a T1 link. The book does cover basic HSRP + BGP design, but without NAT (or maybe NAT should be handled by a Windows server in desperate situations). Access lists or any other firewall-like mechanisms are not mentioned; the auto-secure command gets half a page with no sample printouts.

A few years ago I would enthusiastically embrace the book. Today, I can only advise you to look elsewhere.


  1. What would be a good recommendation for an "universal engineer" today?
    (covering NAT :-D )
  2. No idea. If I ever stumble across something useful, I'll definitely write about it ;)
  3. Ivan, why don't YOU write one? :)
  4. It surprises me that so much is left out of the book (MPLS and especially NAT) and it states on their website the date for the book is February 2009. So is the second edition just a reprint of the original 2004 book with only minor updates?

    I agree with Greg, you should take up the torch and improve on this book. I bet it would sell very nicely as more and more is expected from the IT people "jack of all trades".
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