[CLUE-Cert] Books

Dennis J Perkins dperkins2 at qwest.net
Fri Nov 24 11:41:09 MST 2000

Lynn Danielson wrote:

> > Linux Complete Reference   HOWTOs and FAQs
> > Linux Advanced Reference   more of the above
> Dennis, how up to date are these books?  I see that they
> were published October, 1999.  So, they can't be more
> current than that.  They also cost $40 a piece.  If
> these are simply reprints of public domain LDP documents,
> I think that's outrageous!  Is there more to these books
> than a reprinting of HowTos and FAQs?

I don't know.  At one time I think they were published twice a year.  I
don't think they contain anything more than HowTos
and FAQs, but if you want a reference book, it's useful.  And it's a lot
more compact than printing out even a fraction of the HowTos.  I haven't
looked recently, but the paper is also thinner, allowing more pages in
the book.

> > Linux Companion for System Administrators
> > Learning the Bash Shell
> Agreed.  Both good books.  Although I'd still recommend
> Essential Unix Administration over the Linux Companion
> for Sys Admins.  The Bash Shell book is now in its
> second edition.

True, but the Linux Companion does sometiems give alternatives and URLs
to some of them.

> > Linux kernel books
> > -------------
> > The Linux Kernel Book,   Card, Dumas, Mevel
> > Understanding the Linux Kernel,  Bovet & Cesati
> > Linux Internals,  Moshe Bar
> > Linux Kernel Internals
> Dennis, have you read these?  Do you recommend them all?
> The kernel books seem hard core to me.  Have you found
> them to be of practical value?

I've read parts of them.  They are definitely hardcore and a knowledge
of C is recommended, if not mandatory.  Unless one is really interested
in how the kernel works, I would not recommend them.  Each book has its
strengths and weaknesses, so it's hard to recommend one over the other.
Linux Kernel Internals might be the easiest to read.  It might also be
the easiest one to learn how the scheduler works and how processes are
set up.
Linux Internals is very heavy in C code and it is concerned only with
the upcoming 2.4 kernel.
The Linux Kernel Book was very helpful in my trying to switch from SCO's
shared memory and semaphores to Linux's.
I just bought Understanding the Linux Kernel, and it is very detailed.
According to the forward, it is the result of classes on the Linux

> > X Windows
> > ---------
> > XFree86 for Linux      does not cover 4.0
> No it does not.  There are some other things that it
> doesn't cover either.  The only example that I can
> remember right now is its coverage of font servers.
> It pretty much cops out and says to check out the
> Linux beautification HowTo.  While the book does
> contain good info on XFree86, I found its lack of
> depth and detail disappointing.  There's a new XFree86
> book scheduled for release in February, called "The
> New XFree86", which presumably will cover version 4.0.
> Hopefully it'll be a better book all around.
> As dated as it is, I think I'd have to recommend
> O'Reilly's book on X, volume 8, Systems Administration.
> > For those who are interested in programming in C, I
> > recommend buying the 2-volume GNU C Reference Manual.
> Would you recommend these over the K&R books and the
> C Standard Library Reference?

The K&R books don't cover the C library in detail.  I would recommend
the GNU C Library books over the C Standard Library Reference because
Linux uses the GNU C library.  GNU does have function calls that aren't
part of the standard, such as POSIX threads (this is part of the
POSIX standard).    I could bring the GNU books to the next meeting if
you want to compare them.  They're shrink-wrapped, so you can't do this
at a store.

> > It's a bit expensive at $60 ...
> At least with the GNU books the money is presumably
> helping to directly fund RMS and the FSF.  They say
> that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I
> have to admit that I've avoided the GNU books because
> a) they're not cheap and b) their print quality has
> always seemed inferior -- cheap paper, ugly fonts,
> poorly bound.  Maybe I'm being too harsh, but when
> I pay for a book I want it to be esthetically pleasing
> and easy to read.  If I get the feeling that I could
> do a better job of printing the material with my laser printer and a
> visit to a print shop, it doesn't
> inspire me to purchase a book.  I'd appreciate any
> other comments you have about the GNU references.
> Hopefully their quality makes up for their other
> shortcomings.

The latest editions are better looking than their predecessors.  Some of
them were sprial-bound!  I don't know about the binding.  As far as
price, computer textbooks are starting to reach into the $60 range.  And
some of the GNU book prices have dropped.
I care little about the picture on the cover as long as the contents are
good and the book doesn't fall apart.  I have some foreign-language
books that make GNU look stunning.

Re other GNU books
Using and Porting GNU CC - most people won't need this unless they're
porting GCC.  It does have a comprehensive list of compiler options, but
most of the time the majority aren't needed.  I usually don't go beyond
-c, -o, -g, -On, and -Wall.

Texinfo - if you want to create info pages, you won't find any other

Gawk Manual - I don't have the latest version, but I think Effective Awk
Programming is better.

GNU Make     - O'Reilly's make book is probably slightly better, but it
probably doesn't discuss GNU make's features in as much detail.

Programming in Emacs Lisp - This book teaches by examining some of the
Lisp functions in Emacs.  As a result, it explains some things that
Writing GNU Emacs Extensions does not.  I think they complement each

GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual - Get this two-volume set if you want to
do a lot of Lisp programming in Emacs.

GNU Emacs Manual - I think that pictures would be useful.  O'Reilly's
Learning GNU Emacs is probably better for most people, altho the GNU
manual does cover some things that O'Reilly skims over.

> Lynn
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