Customer Review

50 of 69 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overbearing and huge, December 8, 2008
This review is from: Professional Linux Kernel Architecture (Paperback)
I picked up Mauerer's work on the bookish desire to keep my Kernel book library complete - and contrary to my hopes I was disappointed right from the introduction.

The book is 1337 pages long, which in itself is a negative and the leading reason for the low score - being clear (which the author is) should not come at the expense of being concise. All major areas of kernel architecture are covered, and the author often covers operating systems basics not found in such books, which partly explains (but hardly justifies) the bulk.

The kernel version covered in the book is 2.6.24, which is newer than that covered by Robert Love's book, which remains my recommendation regardless because of its pointedly zeroing in on the relevant bits, instead of exploring every single minutia along the way as Mauerer does here.

The book has merit for a bookworm such as myself, who will refer to it on a chapter basis, but is not the top choice for someone entering the subject anew.

For general use (i.e. where your bookshelf does not include every Linux kernel book ever published), Love's "Linux Kernel Development" (2nd ed) is a much better architectural introduction. If you miss operating system's basics, your first stop should be Tanenbaum's "Operating Systems Design and Implementation" (3rd ed) as well as his "Modern Operating Systems" (3rd ed) before you even think to start poking at the Linux kernel and get overwhelmed by the number of concepts you should have had previous familiarity with. Finally, if you are driven to the Linux kernel by device drivers, as is the most common case, Corbet, Rubini and Kroah-Hartman's "Linux Device Drivers" (3rd ed) definitely belongs on your shelf, although the very recent "Essential Linux Device Drivers" by Vekateswaran mounted the first credible threat to it in a decade, being both thorough and possibly tying Love for the spot as most enjoyable kernel book I have read to date - I would recommend a new device driver developer to go with both, possibly augmented by Love if more architectural knowledge is desired.

The bottom line is that this is a valiant effort, but that the author should have focused more. If you have the time to read thirteen-hundred pages, your time is better invested reading the titles above recommended, picking two or three depending on your exact focus in the subject - you will still be done faster than reading this one!
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 8, 2008 12:22:52 PM PST
There is one light in which Mauerer's work shines in a positive light: the "Linux Core Kernel Commentary" written by Scott Maxwell in 1999 is hopelessly out of date. While not as thorough a walkthrough (the book would have been twice its size in that case :-), it is the closest there is in print today.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 4:57:49 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2009 3:08:47 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2008 9:25:16 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 14, 2008 9:25:34 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2008 9:26:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2008 9:27:04 AM PST
...hum, my browser is having fun at my expense...

Depends on your perspective, but in the time you invest reading 1337 pages you can read three or four of the alternatives. And if you have so much time, reading the kernel itself is a pretty good option in terms of return on your time investment.

Posted on Dec 18, 2008 11:04:50 PM PST
I completely disagree with your review and am sad to hear this come from a fellow man of Cambridge, Ma. This is a book on the Linux kernel, not fishing. It is going to be detailed. Also, the book is not written in a form where a cover to cover read is necessary. The Love book is adequate for the casual reader with no prior knowledge of the kernel, but anyone else will find themselves bored by the brief overview of everything they already knew, yet hoped to find more details about. With that being said, the reason this book is so well written is its ability to overview every subsystem with just enough detail to help you dive into the code. The author describes the code sections from a functional standpoint, purposely leaving out the strenuous error checking and often dismissing the exceptions to the rule. This is the best book on the Linux kernel I have read and I have read all the books you listed. Your list is right on point as far as kernel books(except you left out Understanding the Linux Kernel) and I am surprised to hear such a negative review. My two other favorites are Linux Network Internals(I only wish it covered Netfilter in more detail) and Essential Linux Device Drivers. Anyone still holding on to the now relic, yet timeless, Understanding the Linux Kernel go out and buy this book so you have a kernel reference closer to git HEAD if you know what I mean. BTW, why the hell would someone buy a 1,300 page book on the kernel as first read. If your looking for some Sunday reading or are new to the kernel go pick up a copy of Love.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2009 1:48:54 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2009 3:06:49 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2009 10:50:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2009 10:51:00 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009 6:01:59 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 16, 2009 2:59:47 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 15, 2013 3:10:16 PM PST
not to mention that if you are going to write a long book, 1337 pages is just about the Right(TM) number...
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