Books Every UNIX/Linux/AIX Person Should Already Have Read
nagger 100000MRSJ Comments (2) Visits (7016)
Yes, I admit it I am a "hacker" in the old sense of the word i.e. Definition 4 = A person who is good at programming quickly.See Hackers Dictionary below.
I was think that there are certain books every one in the computer industry should have read before they can claim any level of computer expertise. If you have not read them don't tell any one and quickly get yourself a copy and read it quickly.
My five top books all computer people should have read
Neuromancer by William Gibson
One of the original cyber punk books which in 1984 predicted the modern Internet and cracking computers over the network with automated tools and some that is only coming true now.
I thought of this book when looking into PowerSC Security tools and noticing one of them includes a reference to ICE.
This book includes references to the same Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (the "thanks to" in Neuromancer, attributed this term to Tom Maddox).
There is also Black ICE which has behind it an Artificial Intelligence mind that can, if necessary, kill the intruder although I am ot clear if this is only the virtual person or includes the actual person.
I looked around for Black-ICE on the Internet and found a company with such a product name and guess who now owns it !!
IBM withdrew the firewall product with this name a few years ago. Perhaps, due to the Neuromancer connection.
Don't get this confused with Necromancer. That is something else entirely, just don't go there.
The New Hackers Dictionary by Eric Raymond
A fun book to just read a page "now and again" or read cover to cover. Who knew computers were so much fun.
Take a look at the definition of "hacker" = originally "one that makes furniture with an axe".
I was and still am proud to be a hacker in the original computer sense and it is nothing to do with cracking into computers.
Oh how I laughed at "IBM discount" before joining IBM myself 20 years later and then realised it was actually true. It means a price increase.
Buy a second hand copy for that certain "beaten up" look and extra street-cred points and save 20 bucks.
No idea if the updated later edition is any good.
The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
Fascinating account of the development of a new mini computer at Data General (you know a mini computer has multiple boards to make up the actual CPU, right, of course you do, silly me). This book includes great fun and inter-team rivalry like the renaming of one develop teams files to include a full stop at the front - I am sure I don't need to tell you what happens when the user tries to list their files in the morning, right?
Also include the "fight to the death" competition across the computer industry main players - what happened to Data General in the end?
Probably the same as Pyramid, MIPS, Norsk Data, DEC, Sun and all the others down through the decades.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.
The Mythical Man-Month and Other Essays on Software Engineering by Frederick P. Brook Jr.
The story of IBM betting the whole company on the creation of OS/360. Lots of insightful thoughts on common mistakes and how large projects can go wrong with bad thinking.
The Mythical Man-month is based on the idea that if a woman takes 9 months to make a baby then 9 women can make a baby in just one month!! Stupid right but thinking like this is why many managers desperately trying to get software finished sooner throw more bodies at the problem and make the problem worse. It also covers why writing generic software for a range of machines and various sizes (instead of a single machine) is nine times harder and not the expected twice or three times.
I read this years before joining IBM and sounded wise beyond my years for a decade -when working in large software teams :-)
I would read the new edition with extra thoughts.
Lions' Commentary on UNIX with Source Code by John Lions
If you can read C source code (even if you can't write it yourself) then this was an exciting find. It is the actual source code for UNIX in the days when it was small enough that one person could read and actually understand the whole thing. And I mean every single line of code. It includes the tiny bit of assembler that UNIX needs to do the actual changing of registers for virtual memory, process context switch and user to kernel mode switches. All the code is explain by John Lions notes. I will not tell you that I had a prized 4th generate photocopy of the original University Course hand-out ... until I found everyone could now just buy a copy now. It is the UNIX 6th Edition, so pretty old, but all of the UNIX kernel is there. Don't forget Brian Kernighan and Dennis Richie (K & R) wrote the C compiler (another great book C Programming Language) and Dennis Richie and Ken Thompson wrote the UNIX Kernel, so the code here is a master class in design and coding style.
For an extreme view: I don't understand how any one can use UNIX without being a C programmer :-)
Now three books about the near future including computing, Internet and virtual reality . . .
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
A great book about life in the future and part of it covers an uneducated poor girl given a very special book that transforms her life.
This book inspired me to make 100+ technical hands-on movies on the AIX operating system, the POWER6 and 7 processor and related technologies catch this if you have not already at http
I decided that it is better to watch some one else use a product "hands-on" and explain it as they go. this can include what and why they do things that way. Much better than endless manuals and "death by Powerpoint" presentations. It is more of a conversation and story. This is what the special book in The Diamond Age uses to education the girl.
OK, the book does get a little "mushy" two thirds of the way in but it is very interesting in covering an extreme 3D printer technology that we are starting to see today. Just look at the Raspberry Pi cases becoming available now - the first cases available were via 3D models ready for a 3D printer. Regular cases took 3 months longer to become available.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Wow!!! What a start to the book - you will never think about extreme pizza delivery, swimming pools, burbclaves and levitating skateboards quite the same way again. Nor forget the main characters names of Hiro Protagonist and Vitality Chernobyl for their impact. Snow Crash is the pattern you get on a screen once the computer failed and "oh no" the pattern is not so random after all as it taps in to your mind and ....
In this book the heroes have a life and a virtual life too that get strangely mixed up and they life in a world rich in new technology and terms and vocabulary. It is so vivid I thing the world is reading this book and trying to catch up by adopting it.
The word on the street is the guys at Second Life read this book and said "OK, lets do that and actually build it". And they did!
The future in this book could very easily be the future we all see.
This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams
Another near future book but this one could happen this year. It is a murder mystery techno- thriller where they people involved are fed up with the the slow results of the police investigation to figure what happened when their friend died. So they harness the resources they have available to them. They are an Internet gaming company running a semi real life, semi online problem solving game.
If a dozen cops can't get to the bottom of the clues - what about 12 million Internet users research skills, imagination and ability to follow every possible avenue? What about a million webcams and 1000s of people that can give you an hour or two to help out.
It is only a matter of time before this actually happens.
OK, so that is my choice - what have I missed?