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Windows NT File System Internals: A Developer's Guide Paperback – September 11, 1997
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Writing kernel-mode Windows NT programs--such as file-system drivers (FSDs), filter drivers, and antivirus programs--poses a challenge to even experienced Windows programmers. It's hard enough to get these programs to work, but getting them to live peacefully with other kernel programs and NT itself is an art. Nagar sorts through the mechanics of writing such programs in this book, which is no mean feat considering that Microsoft provides no documentation for its development kit. The author begins by orienting the reader to NT's kernel mode, detailing what runs there, how the various programs interact, and what you need to keep in mind when developing software for the kernel mode.
The book then explores NT's key managers--I/O, virtual memory, and cache--covering the operation and exposed services for each. Nagar then takes the explanatory information he's provided and works it into a how-to guide to developing FSDs. In walking you through developing an actual FSD, the author covers I/O requests, cache operations, and buffers. Exercise files appear on the companion diskette.
Short of having a live instructor, you could not ask for a better guide to this complicated subject.
From the Publisher
Windows NT File System Internals presents the details of the NT I/O Manager, the Cache Manager, and the Memory Manager from the perspective of a software developer writing a file system driver or implementing a kernel-mode filter driver. The book provides numerous code examples included on diskette, as well as the source for a complete, usable filter driver. In addition to system programmers implementing kernel-mode code such as file systems, device drivers, network redirectors, or filter drivers, Windows NT File System Internals will appeal to system administrators who simply want to learn more about the systems they manage, software engineers interested in NT internals, and computer science students examining the intricacies of file system technology. Topics covered in the book include: An introduction to NT system components The NT I/O Manager The NT Virtual Memory Manager The NT Cache Manager Structured driver development under Windows NT Writing a file system driver Writing a filter driver
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1. In despite of the fact that they still sell it in 2014, the "latest" content that the book offers was introduced in 2007 in Windows Vista. I know that the basic concepts of the Windows kernel remained intact since the old NT days, but still, there was a lot of important stuff that was introduced since the early days of Windows NT, or even Vista. Look at Windows 8 for instance and all the changes to its kernel model. Why do you think TrueCrypt people gave up developing it? So the bottom line, the advice in this book barely holds for the modern desktop OS. It's OK if you develop for Windows 2000 or XP, maybe Vista. But no further.
2. The book doesn't have a reliable code sample. Seriously! For the book on such a complex subject as kernel driver development, they did not work on a good code sample? OK, OK. It does refer to one example of the source code on a diskette!, but then they add this note, and I quote, "Note carefully that this is simply a skeleton driver that does not provide for most of the functionality typically implemented by file system drivers..." and then this, "The code has not been tested, however, and should never be used as is without major enhancement and testing efforts on your part." Great!
OK, so it refers to some "diskette" (which is funny by itself) but OK, where is it? My copy of the book did not come with it. And to the best of my knowledge there's no URL to download it from. Also that source code sample that "I shouldn't be really using," is totally useless with the warning that they pointed out above.
In the preface to the book, the authors promise an update. But where is it? It is 7 years later now and still no update!
3. The book doesn't come in a PDF or epub format as a downloadable content. I mean, just a paper book would be OK for 1997, but not today. I don't know about you, but I cannot work with just a printed content without the ability to search or digitally bookmark it. This is a big downside for a developer that can't waste 10 minutes leafing through this paper book in search for certain parameter definition.
4. The book is highly OVERPRICED for what it delivers -- basically outdated content. I'd probably pay $10 for it, just as a relic or an artifact of a bygone era.
So the bottom line, do not waste your money on this book. You'd be better off asking at Stackoverflow or even Microsoft's own TechNet forums. And if you're a novice kernel driver developer (like me) you'll be totally frustrated with this archaic book.
PS. I should point out that even though I am a novice kernel driver developer, I have an extensive experience developing for Windows and Mac since mid 90's, with a lot of experience writing code in x86 Assembler, C and C++. So I'm no newbie when it comes to coding.
Be warned that if you are new to kernel development, this book is probably not for you. A better starting point for a beginner would be "Windows NT Device Driver Development (OSR Classic Reprints)". Reading the book did feel abrupt sometime and probably lacks a good flow. I also remember some of the theories / hypotheses put forward by the author has been challenged elsewhere( OSR file system forums). Nevertheless it is a good reference book. I highly recommend it.
I should confess that I'm writing this review because it happens to be convenient right now, even though I'm less than half-way through the book (hey, what do you want for free?). However, what I've seen so far is sufficiently polished, complete, and to all appearances authoritative that it instills a great deal of confidence, especially given the complexity of the subject. I'm less convinced that Microsoft will have the discipline to keep its 'internal' (but of course critical) interfaces stable over the course of time, but that's not the author's fault (and perhaps when they change they'll decide it's finally time to document them).
However, from skimming the book, I find it to be a typical O'Reilly book. This means that it is well written and full of hard to find technical details. Given my limited topic of the subject matter, I would say that this looks like a buy if you need this type of book.
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