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am 18. Januar 2016
[This review has also appeared at my blog]
What really makes this book stands out, is not the top-notch technical writing or abundance of useful one-liners, is the fact that the author moves forward and suggests a methodology for troubleshooting and performance analysis, as opposed to the ad-hoc methods of the past (or best case scenario a checklist and $DEITY forbid the use of “blame someone else methodology”). In particular the author suggests the USE methodology, USE standing for Utilization – Saturation – Errors, to methodically and accurately analyze and diagnose problems. This methodology (which can be adapted/expanded at will, last time I checked the book was not written in stone), is worth the price of the book alone.

The author correctly maintains that you must have an X-ray (so to speak) of the system at all times. By utilizing tools such as DTrace (available for Solaris and BSD) or the Linux equivalent SystemTap, much insight can be gained from the internals of a system.

Chapters 5-10 are self-explanatory: the author presents what the chapter is about, common errors and common one-liners used to diagnose possible problems. As said before, chapters aim to be self contained and can be read while actually troubleshooting a live system so no lengthy explanations there. At the end of the chapter, the bibliography section provides useful pointers towards resources for further study, something that is greatly appreciated. Finally, the exercises can be easily transformed to interview questions, which is another bonus.

Cloud computing and the special considerations that is presenting is getting its own chapter and the author tries to keep it platform agnostic (even if employed by a “Cloud Computing” company), which is a nice touch. This is followed by a chapter on useful advice on how to actually benchmark systems and the book ends with a, sadly too short, case study.

The appendices that follow should be read, as they contain a lot of useful one-liners (as if the ones in the book were not enough), concrete examples of the USE method, a guide of porting dtrace to systemtap and a who-is-who in the world of systems performance.

So how to sum up the book? “Incredible value” is one thought that comes to mind, “timeless classic” is another. If you are a systems {operator|engineer|administrator|architect}, this book is a must-have and should be kept within reach at all times. Even if your $DAYJOB does not have systems on the title, the book is going to be useful, if you have to interact with Unix-like systems on a frequent basis.

PS. Some reviews of this book complain about the binding of the book. In three physical copies that I have seen before my eyes, binding was of the highest quality so I do not know if this complain is still valid.
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am 22. November 2013
Have to support existing complaints about book binding. I read them and bought the book anyway thinking, how bad could it be. Opened the book the first time, and a big chunk of 20 pages fell out. Now this is a big book, it's not going to be convenient. The book itself looks good though I just started reading, but I recommend all potentials buyers to wait til the binding problems are solved.
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am 19. November 2013
I just started to read this book, and I did not read many pages, I just opened book few times and checked the table of contents and pages start to fall of.
Book is so poorly glued and binded, that I can not describe it. It has 800 pages and I am really eager to read it but such poor binding I did not see for quite some time.
I can not give some ratings for the book content at this point but I will give update latter.
I will not give one star because that will not be fair to the book author and I am so angry at the moment but publisher will not deserve even that one star.
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am 5. Januar 2014
Vielleicht bin ich nicht mehr befähigt ein herkömmliches Buch zu lesen: mehrere bedruckte Seiten Papier mit einer Bindung und einem mehr oder weniger wertigen Einband. So stellt man sich ein analoges Buch vor. Das dies auch anders geht, zeigt uns Prentice Hall in beeindruckender Weise mit dieser gedruckten Ausgabe. Das Vorwort noch nicht beendet, schon lösen sich die ersten Seiten aus der Bindung. Soll dem Besitzer des Buches das Erstellen einer digitalen Sicherheitskopie schmackhaft gemacht und somit die Entnahme der einzelnen Seiten erleichtert werden? Soll hier dem zahlenden Kunden unmissverständlich der Weg zu Online-Lesediensten und ausschließlich digitalen Ausgaben gewiesen werden? Über den eigentlichen Inhalt des Buches vermag ich noch nichts zu sagen,ich bin noch nicht über das Vorwort hinaus gekommen. Die handwerkliche Qualität der Buchbindung ist außerordentlich mangelhaft und eine Schande für das Handwerk. Bisher bin ich über den Erwerb der gedruckten Ausgabe so glücklich wie über einen Pickel am Popo und kann allen Lesern dieser Zeilen nur den Kauf der digitalen Ausgaben empfehlen.
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