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The Art of UNIX Programming [Kindle Edition]

Eric S. Raymond
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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.


The Art of UNIX Programming poses the belief that understanding the unwritten UNIX engineering tradition and mastering its design patterns will help programmers of all stripes to become better programmers. This book attempts to capture the engineering wisdom and design philosophy of the UNIX, Linux, and Open Source software development community as it has evolved over the past three decades, and as it is applied today by the most experienced programmers. Eric Raymond offers the next generation of "hackers" the unique opportunity to learn the connection between UNIX philosophy and practice through careful case studies of the very best UNIX/Linux programs.


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16 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Irreführender Titel, guter Inhalt 7. November 2003
Nach mehr als fünf Jahren Arbeit hat Eric S. Raymond nun endlich "The Art Of Unix Programming" beendet und veröffentlicht. Gleich vorweg: Die Arbeit hat sich gelohnt und heraus kam _die_ definitve Abhandlung über die Geschichte von Unix. Wer also heute z.B. mitreden möchte über den von SCO initiierten Patentstreit in Bezug auf Linux, der kommt um dieses Buch (und die entsprechenden Online-Essays des Autors) nicht herum.
Die Meinung des Autors gilt - nicht zuletzt wegen seiner eher extremen politischen Ansichten - als kontrovers, und leider ist auch das Buch gespickt mit den sehr persönlichen, technischen Ansichten Raymonds. Beispielsweise wird der populäre Emacs-Editor, an dessen Entwicklung der Autor massgeblich beteiligt war, meiner Meinung nach absolut überbewertet. Dies geht so weit, dass bei einem Vergleich von verschiedenen Entwicklungssprachen Emacs-Lisp mit C/C++, Perl und Java verglichen wird.
Auch mit seiner Meinung zur Bedeutung von Objekt-orientierten Vorgehensmodellen in der Unix-Welt dürfte Raymond relativ allein dastehen.
Wenn dies so klingt, als enthielte das Buch eine Menge Tipps zur Programmierung im allgemeinen und vielleicht sogar den einen oder anderen Quelltext-Ausschnitt, so sei an dieser Stelle versichert, dass dem ganz und gar nicht so ist. Vielmehr ist das Buch eine eher geschichtliche und philophische Abhandlung über all das, was Unix ausmacht. Das Thema Technologie wird eher oberflächlich behandelt.
Der teilweise etwas spröde Text wird durch viele Zitate von beinahe legendäre Unix-Größen, wie Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan, David Korn und Henry Spencer aufgelockert.
Fazit: Absolut lesenswert für jeden Unix-Fan und solche, die es vielleicht noch werden wollen.
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3 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Viel Meinung, wenig Kunst 22. Mai 2004
Als Entwickler gibt mir dieses Buch nichts. Hält keinerleich Vergleich stand mit "The Art of Computer Programming", nichteinmal mit "Programming Pearls".
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  42 Rezensionen
58 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Highly informative and readable, though very biased 27. November 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Raymond does a good job of explaining the philosophy driving the Unix-style of programming. Coming from a background programming Windows, I always thought of the Unix approach (lots of abbreviated command-line utilities, mini-languages, pipes, semi-unstructured text-based process integration) as down-right primitive. However, after reading this book, I've started to understand the philosophy (and the practical reasons) for adopting this approach. I'd definitely recommend this book especially to newbie programmers from the Windows or Mac (pre-OS X) worlds. That said, I do have some criticisms:
One of the problems with this book is the overly partisan tone it takes - one gets the impression that absolutely nothing Microsoft has ever done is of value, but the other major desktop PC OSes (Apple, Linux) represent different forms of perfection. (At home, I run Mac OSX, RedHat Linux and Windows, and have a reasonable sense of their relative strengths and weaknesses.)
So, be warned: Art of Unix Programming paints a one sided picture. The author is a well-known figure in the open source community, one of its fiercest advocates, and one of Microsoft's most vocal critics, so it might seem to strange to wish for less anti-Microsoft spin from this source. After all, the Raymond brand certainly carries with it an obligatory expectation of Windows-bashing, doesn't it?
One of the only Windows design decision which Raymond doesn't condemn is the (now discontinued) .ini file format. Even the thorough-going support for object-orientation in Windows is given short-shrift: after explaining the many horrors of object-oriented programming (according to Raymond), Unix-programmers are praised as "tend[ing] to share an instinctive sense of these problems." This section ([...]) is particularly illustrative of the one-sided approach that Raymond takes.
Art of Unix Programming is really an excellent and informative book which could have been substantially better with a little balanced discussion. I found myself constantly second-guessing the author: Is he arguing such-and-such a point on the merits or because he simply loves UNIX & hates Microsoft so much? While the book does a great job of articulating and illustrating the UNIX idiom, it's a shame that the reading experience is marred by mistrust. If he hadn't been so blindly anti-Microsoft, we'd be able to more confidently rely on his conclusions, and the text would be not merely highly informative (as it is), but definitive (as it is not). Four stars, therefore, instead of five.
PS: You can find this book on-line with Google - no charge.
19 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The patterns of UNIX and how you can use them 17. April 2004
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Even for a primarily Windows programmer, this is a great book to read. He provides a great overview of the Unix design philosophy, its evolution over time, and the things that it still doesn't handle well (user-centered design). He also digs deeper into a lot of the patterns in program organization and coordination to help you choose what to build into a utility, what to expose as a library, and what to package as a set of binaries. There's even a small bit of programming advice from place to place. I'd highly recommend reading the book to at least get a sense of perspective when you're designing your next system. He's right on the mark that the Windows and UNIX worlds have a completely different philosophy on program construction, each with their own merits.
His comments about the Windows registry were a bit distressing, though -- not because they're negative, which I consider fine. Rather, it was obvious he'd never used it (comments like "there's no API for it") and it was also clear that he hadn't even bothered to research why it existed and what problems it was intended to solve. The comments were typical of what I'd expect of a Slashdot troll, but not of a bright, respectable person like ESR. I've programmed on both platforms extensively and only comment on what I have first-hand experience and knowledge of; I'd expect him to do the no less, especially as an author.
It was also curious that several times he implied unit testing == XP == agile software development. For as tuned in as he seems to be to methodolgy work, missing the forest for a single leaf is a bit embarrassing.
52 von 64 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Autohagiography with some programming tips 25. Dezember 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
The writing style of this book tends to hurt the reading experience, as Raymond trumpets his own minor achievments in the free software community. The work feels like it needed one more rewrite before being released to the public: some related sources Raymond hadn't yet read at the time of writing, and some of his advice gets repetitive.
The exposition itself is not up to par with The Elements of Programming Style. Raymond tries to give a list of programming rules or principles to follow, but it reads more like a list of slogans that should be taken as axioms. While The Elements of Programming Style itself had a list of rules, the rules were well woven with each other, well defended, and they were used as a means of conveying a larger story. In Raymond's case, he relies upon the slogans in absence of such a story.
Thus, the book ends up more like a list of random unrelated tips. Some very profound, like his writings on threads (which he acknowleges Mark M. Miller for his help). Others are very shallow and pointless in a book that supposes to call itself about "Art." Some of the pieces appear only to function to attack Windows, and sometimes the information about Windows is embarassingly inaccurate.
One final criticism is that Raymond does not understand object-oriented programming very well and misses the point in several cases. You just need to see the popularity of Python, Java, C# (Mono), OO Perl and C++ in the Linux world to see that Raymond is off base calling OO a failed experiment. In fact, with almost any matter of opinion in the book you can feel Raymond's bias and be hit in the face with misinformation or dull false dilemmas.
However, given this book's many flaws, I rate this 3 stars instead of 2 stars because it also has valuable information from the many contributors, some of them Gods in the Unix world. These contributors often even disagree with Raymond, or point out other interesting tidbits. For these tips alone, it is worth checking out this book, though I would not recommend you buy it.
To get the true Unix programming philosophy, I recommend Software Tools, by Kernighan and Plauger. It's somewhat dated, and I recommend the Ratfor version of it, but that single book has became very influencial as I grow as a Unix programmer.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Surpassed my expectations 24. Juli 2005
Von Szymon Rozga - Veröffentlicht auf
When I first started reading this book, I expected to hear a considerable amount of Microsoft trashing and everything else that follows from fanatical Microsoft haters. However, what I found was an easy to follow book that illustrates many aspects of Unix programming, explains why they work, and shows examples of all of them.

The organization of the chapters is logical and the emphasis on the Unix philosophy helps with the flow of the book. Raymond starts out by enumerating the philosophy and writing a bit about each one. Many are universal, as "The Rule of Separation", "The Rule of Diversity" or "The Rule of Least Surprise" in user interfaces. However, many others are specific to Unix and its descendants such as "The Rule of Silence" and others. From there on, Raymond takes off to talk about how Unix is designed and implemented guided by the items of the Unix philosophy.

The book also includes a nice history of Unix section, which is pretty much the history of modern computing. Reading it made me all warm and fuzzy inside; it was both entertaining and informative. A must-read.

Where this book falls shortly is in some criticisms of non-Unix related topics. Object oriented programming is apparently not appreciated by Raymond. I don't agree with a lot of his claims about how object oriented programming over-complicates things. In my opinion, writing in procedural languages is messy stuff. Also, this man seems to think everything in Unix is simply perfect. Although a bit annoying at times, in many instances the result is positive becase his passion for the topic is clear.

Even though there is no code, it didn't take anything away from reading. The knowledge gained from it is HUGE because of the amount of material covered, and it WILL make you a better programmer, independent of whatever OS background you are from.
16 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Spectacular Book 19. Februar 2004
Von Elizabeth Krumbach - Veröffentlicht auf
This is a really great book, 30 pages into it I had already begun raving about it to my peers. It takes the reader through years of Unix history, philosophy, application, and wisdom. It starts out slowly, explaining how an operating system can create and sustain any sort of culture. It admits the flaws in Unix and highlights it's strengths and successes. It then gets into the "Rules" of Unix Philosophy, which was something that was greatly beneficial to me in my coding life. It teaches the reader to make things modular and simple, not try to redo things that have been done before, not to be overly clever, etc.
Throughout this book the reader is given examples of some of the most basic things in the unix world, why text is so important, what "transparency" is when referring to coding, and it even includes a non-bias section reviewing some standard unix text editors. The book also gets into evaluating various languages in unix, including which is most appropriate for certain projects, which can be very helpful to someone looking to learn a programming language but who is unsure of which direction to take. A whole huge section of this book gets into the community of unix, standards, documentation, licensing, and the actual personal community.
The most thrilling part of this book for me was the History of Unix, hackers and the open srouce movement. As a history buff I always tend to be drawn to such things, and I believe he did a very good job and kept me enthralled. I also enjoyed Appendix D: Rootless Root: The Unix Koans of Master Foo, it was quite witty and amusing, as well as full of great lessons.
A wonderful computer book suitable for any sort of computer buff, even if they aren't currently working directly with Unix. It's easy to skip around this book by scanning the contents to just see what you're interested in, I really believe there is something for every computer enthusist, I am surprised a book like this hadn't been written sooner.
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