Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of good info in one place, but organization needs work, February 14, 2005
This review is from: Linux Application Development (2nd Edition) (Hardcover)
The Linux operating system provides a sophisticated framework for running programs. Within its sturdy covers, Linux Application Development by Michael K. Johnson and Erik W. Troan provides much of what intermediate to advanced programmers need to know to take advantage of that framework.

The book is divided into four major parts: Getting Started, Development Tools and Environment, System Programming and Development Libraries.

Part 1 - Getting Started, is a very high-level overview of Linux itself. The three chapters cover barely 20 pages, and discuss the history of Linux, its licensing, and the online documentation.

Part 2 - Development Tools and Environment gets more detailed, but ends up as a medium-level view of what tools you might use to actually create and debug your application. Six chapters covering about 75 pages discuss editors (Emacs and vi), make, the GNU debugger gdb, tracing, gcc options, glibc, memory debugging tools, libraries, and the environment. Each chapter feels a little light-weight except for the one on memory debugging tools.

If the first two parts seemed to just skim the surface somewhat, Part 3 - System Programming definitely dives into the deep end of the pool. Part 3 has 13 chapters and covers 450 pages, almost two-thirds of the total book. My major complaint with Part 3 is that related chapters appear to be separated by others. Five major groups of functionality are covered.

The Unix/Linux process model is explained in detail in Chapter 10, and should be followed by chapter 15, which goes into job control. File handling is introduced in chapter 11, expanded in chapter 13, and directory handling is covered in chapter 14. Interprocess communication is discussed in chapters 12 - Signal Processing (discussing simple semaphores) and chapter 17 - Networking with Sockets, which extends IPC across the network. User interfaces are covered in chapters 16 (terminals and pseudo-terminals), 20 (virtual consoles), and 21 (text-based interfaces for the Linux console). Timers, encryption, and writing secure programs are the topics of chapters 18, 19, and 22.

Finally, Part 4 covers the various development libraries commonly available to the programmer. Chapter 23 covers the ins and outs of string handling and regular expressions. Using S-Lang to handle the terminal is the main interest of the next chapter. Chapter 25 discusses database interfaces, specifically qdbm, which is licensed under the LGPL. Traditional option functions getopt and getopt_long and their cousin on steriods popt are detailed in the following chapter. The final two chapters cover dynamic loading of shared objects with the advantages that provides, and user identification and authentication, covering id-to-name translation, and Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM).

This book has a lot of information packed within its covers, When programming, one needs a number of reference books at hand, and Linux Application Development should definitely be one of the handiest. My only concerns were how the first two parts seemed skimpy compared to the rest of the book, and the part on System Programming could have been laid out better. That said, Linux Application Development rates a 4 out of 5.
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Initial post: Jun 24, 2010 6:16:31 PM PDT
Speaking as one of the authors: We describe part 3 in the preface as "the heart of the book", so it's intentionally very much the bulk of the work. The ordering was designed to help readers understand the system when reading cover-to-cover; we would agree that it's an unusual order for use as a reference material, and we did significant work on improving the index for the second edition in order to improve the usability as a reference book, which is more important given the fact that we designed the ordering of Part 3 to facilitate understanding in a cover-to-cover read.
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