Art of UNIX Programming / Edition 1
  • Art of UNIX Programming / Edition 1
  • Art of UNIX Programming / Edition 1

Art of UNIX Programming / Edition 1

4.5 2
by Eric S. Raymond

ISBN-10: 0131429019

ISBN-13: 9780131429017

Pub. Date: 09/17/2003

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

"Reading this book has filled a gap in my education. I feel a sense of completion, understand that UNIX is really a style of community. Now I get it, at least I get it one level deeper than I ever did before. This book came at a perfect moment for me, a moment when I shifted from visualizing programs as things to programs as the shadows cast by communities.

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"Reading this book has filled a gap in my education. I feel a sense of completion, understand that UNIX is really a style of community. Now I get it, at least I get it one level deeper than I ever did before. This book came at a perfect moment for me, a moment when I shifted from visualizing programs as things to programs as the shadows cast by communities. From this perspective, Eric makes UNIX make perfect sense."
--Kent Beck, author of Extreme Programming Explained, Test Driven Development, and Contributing to Eclipse

"A delightful, fascinating read, and the lessons in problem-solvng are essential to every programmer, on any OS."
--Bruce Eckel, author of Thinking in Java and Thinking in C++

Writing better software: 30 years of UNIX development wisdom

In this book, five years in the making, the author encapsulates three decades of unwritten, hard-won software engineering wisdom. Raymond brings together for the first time the philosophy, design patterns, tools, culture, and traditions that make UNIX home to the world's best and most innovative software, and shows how these are carried forward in Linux and today's open-source movement. Using examples from leading open-source projects, he shows UNIX and Linux programmers how to apply this wisdom in building software that's more elegant, more portable, more reusable, and longer-lived.

Raymond incorporates commentary from thirteen UNIX pioneers:

  • Ken Thompson, the inventor of UNIX.
  • Ken Arnold, part of the group that created the 4BSD UNIX releases and co-author of The Java Programming Language.
  • Steven M. Bellovin, co-creator of Usenet and co-author of Firewalls and Internet Security.
  • Stuart Feldman, a member of the Bell Labs UNIX development group and the author of make and f77.
  • Jim Gettys and Keith Packard, principal architects of the X windowing system.
  • Steve Johnson, author of yacc and of the Portable C Compiler.
  • Brian Kernighan, co-author of The C Programming Language, The UNIX Programming Environment, The Practice of Programming, and of the awk programming language.
  • David Korn, creator of the korn shell and author of The New Korn Shell Command and Programming Language.
  • Mike Lesk, a member of the Bell Labs development group and author of the ms macro package, the tbl and refer tools,lex and UUCP.
  • Doug McIlroy, Director of the Bell Labs research group where UNIX was born and inventor of the UNIX pipe.
  • Marshall Kirk McKusick, developer of the 4.2BSD fast filesystem and a leader of the 4.3BSD and 4.4BSD teams.
  • Henry Spencer, a leader among early UNIX developers, who created getopt, the first open-source string library, and a regular-expression engine used in 4.4BSD.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents


1. Philosophy.

Culture? What culture?

The durability of Unix.

The case against learning Unix culture.

What Unix gets wrong.

What Unix gets right.

Basics of the Unix philosophy.

The Unix philosophy in one lesson.

Applying the Unix philosophy.

Attitude matters too.

2. History.

Origins and history of Unix, 1969-1995.

Origins and history of the hackers, 1961-1995.

The open-source movement: 1998 and onward.

The lessons of Unix history.

3. Contrasts.

The elements of operating-system style.

Operating-system comparisons.

What goes around, comes around.


4. Modularity.

Encapsulation and optimal module size.

Compactness and orthogonality.


Unix and object-oriented languages.

Coding for modularity.

5. Textuality.

The Importance of Being Textual.

Data file metaformats.

Application protocol design.

Application protocol metaformats.

6. Transparency.

Some case studies.

Designing for transparency and discoverability.

Designing for maintainability.

7. Multiprogramming.

Separating complexity control from performance tuning.

Taxonomy of Unix IPC methods.

Problems and methods to avoid.

Process partitioning at the design level.

8. Minilanguages.

Taxonomy of languages.

Applying minilanguages.

Designing minilanguages.

9. Transformation.

Data-driven programming.

Ad-hoc code generation.

10. Configuration.

What should be configurable?

Where configurations live.

Run-control files.

Environment variables.

Command-line options.

How to choose among configuration-setting methods.

On breaking these rules.

11. Interfaces.

Applying the Rule of Least Surprise.

History of interface design on Unix.

Evaluating interface designs.

Tradeoffs between CLI and visual interfaces.

Transparency, expressiveness, and configurability.

Unix interface design patterns.

Applying Unix interface-design patterns.

The Web browser as universal front end.

Silence is golden.

12. Optimization.

Don't just do something, stand there!

Measure before optimizing.

Non-locality considered harmful.

Throughput vs. latency.

13. Complexity.

Speaking of complexity.

A Tale of Five Editors.

The right size for an editor.

The right size of software.


14. Languages.

Unix's Cornucopia of Languages.

Why Not C?

Interpreted Languages and Mixed Strategies.

Language evaluations.

Trends for the Future.

Choosing an X toolkit.

15. Tools.

A developer-friendly operating system.

Choosing an editor.

Special-purpose code generators.

Make in non-C/C++ Development.

Version-control systems.

Run-time debugging.


Emacs as the universal front end.

16. Re-Use.

The tale of J. Random Newbie.

Transparency as the key to re-use.

From re-use to open source.

The best things in life are open.

Where should I look?

What are the issues in using open-source software?

Licensing issues.


17. Portability.

Evolution of C.

Unix standards.

Specifications as DNA, code as RNA.

Programming for Portability.


Portability, open standards and open source.

18. Documentation.

Documentation concepts.

The Unix style.

The zoo of Unix documentation formats.

The present chaos and a possible way out.

The DocBook toolchain.

How to write Unix documentation.

19. Open Source.

Unix and open source.

Best practices for working with open-source developers.

The logic of licenses: how to pick one.

Why you should use a standard license.

Varieties of Open-Source Licensing.

20. Futures.

Essence and accident in Unix tradition.

Problems in the design of Unix.

Problems in the environment of Unix.

Problems in the culture of Unix.

Reasons to believe.

A. Glossary of Abbreviations.

B. References.

C. Contributors.

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Art of UNIX Programming 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This brilliant book succeeds in capturing Raymond's 30 years of programming experience in UNIX and Linux! He explains not just techniques but also why they work. I too have 30 years of UNIX/Linux programming experience and I agree with his wisdom. In many cases he even helped me understand why the techniques I use work and explains clearly why other techniques -- some being quite fashionable these days -- do not work. Regardless of experience, any programmer will benefit tremendously from this book; any manager will benefit from learning what techniques will make his staff more productive and result in more reliable and maintainable code.

One technique discussed is using ASCII text files to store system configuration and documents. This allows any text editor to see, change data, and remove errors. Anyone who has suffered a trashed Windows Registry file or wanted to look at a Word document without using Word understands the bad design of not doing this. He also discusses the Windows Registry file design as allowing a single-point failure in any application to make the system unusable and how UNIX avoids this problem.

Eric is the rare person who has both the knowledge and the ability to explain it clearly in an easy-to-read and fun book. It includes the history that helps understanding and contrasts UNIX with other operating systems and techniques to illustrate advantages and disadvantages of each. While intended for UNIX and Linux programming in C, C++, Perl, Java, and shell script, those programming under Windows and other operating systems will benefit too by taking advantage of the techniques that made UNIX so popular and productive among programmers.

Guest More than 1 year ago
The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric S. Raymond, contains over 30 years software engineering wisdom. In addition to Raymond?s own experience, the book also incorporates knowledge from thirteen UNIX pioneers including Ken Thompson (the creator of UNIX) and David Korn (creator of the korn shell). Raymond?s book tells about the philosophy, design, tools, culture, and traditions that make up UNIX. Raymond shows how these are being carried forward today in both the open-source movement and Linux. Personally, I rather enjoyed reading this book because it's not just another book that teaches you how to use a particular programming language. This book teaches you how to design software, teaching you the philosophy behind UNIX and contains some of the history hacker lore that made UNIX what it is today. Unlike most programming books I have read this book uses case studies to prove a point rather then tailored examples. The case studies use real, pre-existing pieces of open-source software that are in use every day (including Kmail, The Gimp, Audacity and many others). Through these case studies Eric demonstrates how to apply the book's wisdom in building software that not only adheres to the UNIX philosophy but software that is more portable, more reusable, and longer lived.