- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley; 1 edition (October 3, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0131429019
- ISBN-13: 978-0131429017
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of UNIX Programming (The Addison-Wesley Professional Computng Series) 1st Edition
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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:
- 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.
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Top customer reviews
One or the other of you may object his casual style, however, it doesn't change a bit of the substance.
His criticism on Windows may appear somewhat biting, but let me tell you, having become quite familiar with both: touché. I honestly do admire Microsoft for what they managed to squeeze out of an OS born in a hurry, even in a technical sense. But that won't bridge the gap between Unix ("Do One Thing Well") and MS-DOS/Windows (hurried into "Do OnThing well" and had an automatic spelling checker flip the typo afterwards).
Good reading. Entertaining, generally engaging.
A teeny bit too much pride and pontificating at times, but he can do that, because he has earned it.
Chapter 3 "Contracts: Comparing the Unix Philosophy with Others" starts with this quote from a Dilbert newsletter, "If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it's done." Nevertheless, I am more likely to be less critical and more philosophical about designs after learning about the OS designs of VMS, MacOS, OS/2, Windows NT, BeOS, MVS, VM/CMS, and Linux.
The last chapter titled "Futures: Dangers and Opportunities" summarizes the philosophical differences between operating system design in the past and in the present with Linux. By the time I got to this last chapter, I see that this book is a real eye opener and you will think "philosophically" about software designs. Understanding history does help. The next generation is thinking about usability along with the open design patterns of the OS. This is paradigm shift for Unix and Windows gurus.
Besides learning about how to think philosophically, this book is a gold mine to a software engineer. For example, chapter 2 "Basics of the Unix Philosophy" covers 17 rules on design that every software engineer needs. Additionally, chapter 16 "Reuse: On Not Reinventing the Wheel" is a hoot. Today, some professors do grade on code readability, style, and program documentation.
Chapter 14 "Languages: To C or Not To C?" is another learning experience on language choice. I cannot help but wonder if the authors are not Zen-like enough because of their love of their offspring C, when today there is a growing community using Java for embedded Linux software, because of its portability, improved memory management, and eliminated pointer security problems. Platform neutral language and OS.
Chapter 19 "Open Source: Programming in the New Unix Community", should be required reading for a software engineer. We need to learn about the open source software development process.
If there were only time, this book would make an excellent addition to a computer science OS or software engineering course. Software architects need this book. The Masters have a done a great job by contributing to this.
The true is that he has a good points and ideias of how to develop using the unix pratices (eg. the practice of separation and program specialization).
I love unix (any flavor), it is by far the best operating system for a wise developers. The advice of Eric really makes sense for someone used to work with unix, and I put a lot of his advice to good use.
I recommend this book to an intermediate/advance unix programmer/analyst.
The Art of UNIX Programming talks about thinks like "do one thing and do it good", "KISS-principle" and things along those lines. If you are a seasoned UNIX or Linux-administrator looking for some programming goodies you have to look elsewhere.
For someone new to Unix, wishing to understand its origins and design philisophy, or for anyone developing on Unix (especially traditional development in C or C++) this book is highly applicable. The book is very readable; it's less of a technical book and more of an open discussion of past and current development practices.
If you the have the opportunity, I highly recommend you have a look at the "Origins of Unix" chapter; Raymond was there for most of Unix's history, and he recounts it vividly. This was the most entertaining and informative chapter of the book, especially for someone who is new to the Unix community. His discussions of transparency and modularity were also very practical and useful.