Unix ranks among the great engineering accomplishments of the last half of the twentieth century, and its heir--Linux--seems already imposing and still on its way to achieving its full potential. Eric S. Raymond argues in The Art of UNIX Programming that the excellence of Unix derives as much from the fact that it was (and continues to be) a community effort as from the fact that a lot of smart people have worked to design and build it. Raymond, best known as the author of the open-source manifesto The Cathedral and the Bazaar, says in his preface that this is a "why-to" book, rather than a "how-to" book. It aims to show new Unix programmers why they should work under the old "hacker ethic"--embracing the principles of good software design for its own sake and of code-sharing.
That said, a great deal of valuable practical information appears in this book. Very little of it is in the form of code; most of the practical material takes the form of case studies and discussions of aspects of Unix, all aimed at determining why particular design characteristics are good. In many cases, the people who did the work in the first place make guest appearances and explain their thinking--an invaluable resource. This book is for the deep-thinking software developer in Unix (and perhaps Linux in particular). It shows how to fit into the long and noble tradition, and how to make the software work right. --David Wall
Topics covered: Why Unix (the term being defined to include Linux) is the way it is, and the people who made it that way. Commentary from Ken Thompson, Steve Johnson, Brian Kernighan, and David Korn enables readers to understand the thought processes of the creators of Unix.
From the Back Cover
"Reading this book has filled a gap in my education. I feel a sense of completion, understand that UNIX is really a style of community. Now I get it, at least I get it one level deeper than I ever did before. This book came at a perfect moment for me, a moment when I shifted from visualizing programs as things to programs as the shadows cast by communities. From this perspective, Eric makes UNIX make perfect sense."
--Kent Beck, author of Extreme Programming Explained, Test Driven Development, and Contributing to Eclipse
"A delightful, fascinating read, and the lessons in problem-solvng are essential to every programmer, on any OS."
--Bruce Eckel, author of Thinking in Java and Thinking in C++
Writing better software: 30 years of UNIX development wisdom
In this book, five years in the making, the author encapsulates three decades of unwritten, hard-won software engineering wisdom. Raymond brings together for the first time the philosophy, design patterns, tools, culture, and traditions that make UNIX home to the world's best and most innovative software, and shows how these are carried forward in Linux and today's open-source movement. Using examples from leading open-source projects, he shows UNIX and Linux programmers how to apply this wisdom in building software that's more elegant, more portable, more reusable, and longer-lived.
Raymond incorporates commentary from thirteen UNIX pioneers:
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- Ken Thompson, the inventor of UNIX.
- Ken Arnold, part of the group that created the 4BSD UNIX releases and co-author of The Java Programming Language.
- Steven M. Bellovin, co-creator of Usenet and co-author of Firewalls and Internet Security.
- Stuart Feldman, a member of the Bell Labs UNIX development group and the author of make and f77.
- Jim Gettys and Keith Packard, principal architects of the X windowing system.
- Steve Johnson, author of yacc and of the Portable C Compiler.
- Brian Kernighan, co-author of The C Programming Language, The UNIX Programming Environment, The Practice of Programming, and of the awk programming language.
- David Korn, creator of the korn shell and author of The New Korn Shell Command and Programming Language.
- Mike Lesk, a member of the Bell Labs development group and author of the ms macro package, the tbl and refer tools,lex and UUCP.
- Doug McIlroy, Director of the Bell Labs research group where UNIX was born and inventor of the UNIX pipe.
- Marshall Kirk McKusick, developer of the 4.2BSD fast filesystem and a leader of the 4.3BSD and 4.4BSD teams.
- Henry Spencer, a leader among early UNIX developers, who created getopt, the first open-source string library, and a regular-expression engine used in 4.4BSD.