Open-Source Networking Textbook

A month ago I told you how dr. Olivier Bonaventure starts his networking course with IPv6. But there’s more: the full textbook for the undergraduate course (Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols and Practice) is open-sourced and available (in source form) on GitHub.

You might wonder why I’m so enthusiastic, so let me tell you another story…

A while ago I was approached by someone who’s working with a traditional publisher to put together a network automation book. I checked the publisher’s web site and found out that it’s one of those institutions charging $150 for a textbook, so of course I politely asked how much the authors get out of that. Here’s the deal:

The publisher is following the BCP for edited books; a complimentary copy of the book upon publication will be provided to lead authors.

I politely declined the invitation and asked to be notified when they’ll be working on a free open-source book ;)


  1. I don't think this is fair (quite the opposite), and I thought that the common case was to receive a very small compensation, but it is not so strange in the academic world.

    Professors are promoted based on their publications, and publishing a book with a reputed publisher is a very valuable merit for promotions. I have heard discussions about a good book being comparable to publishing 10 top-tier journal papers (note that a journal paper can imply 1/2 - 1 year of research work) with respect to merit and promotion. The economic benefit in this case comes from the academic promotion, not from the book sales which are devoured by the publisher.

    As I read somewhere else "I didn't want to go on an academic career. Academics are paid on citations, not on dollars". :/
  2. Somehow this [book cost estimate] twisted a knife in an open wound, as far as I am concerned (not related to the topic of networking :-)). I am just in the process of paying $1K+ for my son's books, for one semester, and still not done (at an US college, if not obvious for international audience, where tuition is also in many tens of $Ks)...
  3. I highly recommend buying used or renting textbooks through Amazon. They even buy them back (usually). My kids have saved a lot of money this way.
    1. They became much more "creative" lately - these books come with access codes for the web hosted homework, etc. Amazon rentals did not come with the code, for the ones I had to acquire. The code itself, if to be acquired through the likes of Amazon, is more expensive than the book (!?!). But this was not the purpose of Ivan's original point, so maybe I should not have hi-jacked the thread. I'll stop here
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