UNIX Programming Environment, The

Author: Brian W. Kernighan, Rob Pike, Robert Pike
List Price: $45.99
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ISBN: 013937681X
Publisher: Prentice Hall Computer Books (March, 1984)
Edition: Paperback
Sales Rank: 39,036
Average Customer Rating: 4.52 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5
The much-vaunted Unix "philosophy" in practice
This book is one of the cornerstones of the Unix philosophy. "There's a philosophy?" I hear you ask. Ohhh yessss. Unix gives you the tools to build whatever you want and asks only that you behave nicely, reading standard input and writing to stdout. Problem is, the tools sometimes seem too small to get anything useful done. What can you do with tiddlers like ls, cp and diff after all?

This book answers those concerns by a series of examples. My favorite is the version control system implemented in diff. Yes, it's dated, but the quality still shows. I prefer to think of it as "old-school"; it shows just how much can be accomplished with talent and an understanding of the Unix Way.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Yes its great
This is the book I wish I had as an undergrad. I only purchased the book out of curiosity but was delighted with its content. If you are new to *nix programming then this book is a must! If this book demonstrates anything it reveals the true strength of Unix -- timeless. After all, the book was published in 1984. I always judge a technical book by its cover and this book is no exception (the less flashy the cover, the better the content). Eventually you'll need this book so you might as well buy it now.

Rating: 5 out of 5
If you use Unix, you want this book. End of subject.
Dated, yes. But that's the only weakness of this excellent book, which covers the philosophy and structure of userland in Unix, and it's not an important one -- nroff is still necessary for man pages, and life on the command line is something anyone dealing with a Unix box should get used to, whether the user is using a shell account on their local freenet or a cutting edge Athlon64 Linux PC or PowerMac G5. (Or even SCO, if you must.)

The tools covered are timeless ones -- make, lex, yacc, and others that are still important for software development some twenty-five to thirty years after they were first written. There's no networking, no Perl, and the shell language is ancient, but what's in there still works, with only minor changes to accomodate ANSI C (if you're using GCC, even that can be dispensed with using a compiler flag). The book also serves as an education in programming language design, working out a full programmable calculator system called hoc, and an introduction to the concept of toolsmithing.

This book and Kernighan's book Software Tools (coauthored with P.J. Plauger) provide a great education in how to build a computer system; there's a very good reason both books are still in print after many, many years when most computer books turn over editions every year or two. Whatever your Unix is -- Mac, Linux, Solaris, BSD, whatever -- take this book with you when you start hacking around on the command line. It's not everything you'll ever need to know, but it's one of the best to get you started.

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