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Linux Internals- Moshe Bar

© November 2000 Tony Lawrence

This is a hard book to recommend. First of all, it is very badly edited- there are all kinds of glaring editorial mistakes, from "Please provide figure caption" captions to author-editor communications that never got taken out (page 18- "no, you're right,lilo"). There are some typos here and there, some clumsy language, that sort of thing.

But more problematical is that this is supposedly addressed to an audience who I think would mostly be baffled by its contents. The "Who Should Read This Book" says

Linux Internals is targeted at system and network administrators, developers and capacity planning managers. It will also appeal to Linux enthusiasts who have a good general understanding of hardware and software

I'm sorry, but a "good general understanding of hardware and software" wouldn't get you very far here. Nor would most administrators I've known find this anything but incomprehensible. You really need a lot of kernel knowledge to get anything out of this book. That's not necessarily a bad thing: If you don't need hand holding on the basics of Unix kernels, and are interested in Linux, this might be just what you need. However, Moshe's message is a little muddled in that regard; for example he devotes several pages to explaining spin locks, which anyone experienced with other kernels certainly wouldn't need at all, yet he runs through DMA mapping as though it were the most obvious thing that could be. I think that's the major flaw here: Moshe flips back and forth between too basic and too obscure, which never makes anyone happy.

However, if you are interested in details of Linux internals, and do have the background, this does have a lot of Linux specific information to offer. If you don't have the background that is really necessary, I'd recommend the "Magic Garden Explained" and Steve Pate's "Unix Internals" (see the links below) as companions to this adventure.


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