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The Linux Programmer's Toolbox

© March 2007 Anthony Lawrence

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Wow. Regular readers here know I don't say "wow" lightly. I may like a book, I may even think it's useful or even something you really should have, but very few really make my jaw drop.

This is one that gets a "wow". It may be the holy grail of Linux programming books just because of its amazing depth of coverage, but it also gets high marks from me for clarity of writing and for being whatever polar opposite of "dull" you'd prefer.

First, the detail and depth here is surprising. It's roughly 600 pages, but given the ground covered, you'd think it was twice that or more. It takes great skill to pack lots of information into a small space while remaining readable and interesting, and I really admire authors who can do that. Any programmer coming from any other OS platform should pick this up first thing: it will save them a lot of time and trouble.

Please note that I do not think this book is exclusively useful to programmers. In fact, it's probably more useful to "semi-programmers"; that is, those of us who *can* write code at some level but usually don't. We're more likely to "make" someone else's code and perhaps hack up a script or two around it; we may understand more about kernel internals than your average Joe but we aren't likely to do any kernel hacking.. your typical senior admin usually matches that profile pretty closely, and is quite likely to find this very useful.

For example, in Chapter 2 ("Building from source") there's a twenty page section devoted to "Understanding Errors and Warnings". That's easily the best treatment I've ever encountered of "Things that go wrong after you type 'make'". Most of us know the frustration when something we really need or at least would really like to have blows up during the compile.

Chapter 5 is "What every developer should know about the kernel". Well, yeah, but most of it is things every admin/support person should know too, and again it is very well written and quite illuminating.

Oh, there's more. A lot more. Finding help, editing, revision control, debugging, even tuning: it's all here, and it's all very well done. Sorry to babble on about how impressed I am, but there it is: I'm awestruck.

You are going to learn things here. I think that's a fairly safe bet. For me, this is one of those books that I read through hurriedly because I was enjoying it so much, but then returned to page one for a more leisurely and thorough read.

Highly recommended. Good stuff!

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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

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Take Control of OS X Server

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

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Take control of Apple TV, Second Edition

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