The best operating system books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about operating system and why they recommend each book.

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Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment

By W. Richard Stevens, Stephen Rago,

Book cover of Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment

Modern Unix systems (including Linux) offer a wealth of APIs. This book provides detailed instruction, including sample code, on how to make the best use of them. It is a one-stop-shop for mastering the details of Unix programming in C.

I recommend the book because it is thorough, authoritative, and clearly written. Richard Stevens was a well-known author and consultant and his books are models of clear exposition. Steven Rago is an experienced Unix developer and author as well.


Who am I?

I am a professional software developer and technical author, with a number of books published by O’Reilly and Prentice Hall. I have been working in the C / C++ / Unix / Linux world for over four decades. I am also the maintainer of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Awk interpreter for the awk programming language. I have a passion for writing clear, correct, efficient, and portable code, and for applying the UNIX and Software Tools principles in my development. I hope that this book list will help you climb the learning curve of doing great Unix / Linux development.


I wrote...

Linux Programming by Example

By Arnold Robbins,

Book cover of Linux Programming by Example

What is my book about?

Assuming that you know only the C programming language, this book teaches you the fundamental Unix / Linux Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  Based on industry standards, it helps you learn how to write correct, readable applications that deal with files, processes, signals, user information, and more. It brings example code from original Seventh Edition UNIX programs, as well as from more modern GNU programs, so that you can see how the APIs are used in real programs, and not just in toy examples.

Lions' Commentary on Unix

By John Lions,

Book cover of Lions' Commentary on Unix

The previous books all cover programming at the user level – how to write regular programs for a Unix / Linux system. But what about the operating system itself?

This classic work explains the operating system code of the 6th Edition Unix system, which ran on Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-11 systems. If you want to learn the basics of operating system implementation by reading real, working code, this is the place to start.

This is worth reading, even if you never intend to write kernel code, since an understanding of how the operating system works makes it easier for you to correctly use the system calls (APIs) that the operating system provides.


Who am I?

I am a professional software developer and technical author, with a number of books published by O’Reilly and Prentice Hall. I have been working in the C / C++ / Unix / Linux world for over four decades. I am also the maintainer of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Awk interpreter for the awk programming language. I have a passion for writing clear, correct, efficient, and portable code, and for applying the UNIX and Software Tools principles in my development. I hope that this book list will help you climb the learning curve of doing great Unix / Linux development.


I wrote...

Linux Programming by Example

By Arnold Robbins,

Book cover of Linux Programming by Example

What is my book about?

Assuming that you know only the C programming language, this book teaches you the fundamental Unix / Linux Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  Based on industry standards, it helps you learn how to write correct, readable applications that deal with files, processes, signals, user information, and more. It brings example code from original Seventh Edition UNIX programs, as well as from more modern GNU programs, so that you can see how the APIs are used in real programs, and not just in toy examples.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

By Charles Yu,

Book cover of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

I am not actually a huge sci-fi fan overall. I actually just love books about memory, identity, and facing up to your true self. This one is a perfect fit for this. It’s about a character called Charles Yu (yes, the same as the author!) who travels through time to find his father, the inventor of time travel no less. His job is to stop people trying to change the past, which never ends well. His own mother is stuck in a self-imposed time loop and he is in love with an operating system. In this bizarre and often humorous tale, Yu forces us to question our own fragilities and coping mechanisms. Despite its sci-fi leanings and the oddities, it is a story of family, love, and what it means to be human – and ultimately, memory and the ways it can damage or heal a person. 


Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by the idea of memory. What sticks in your mind, what is lost, what can be manipulated, how you see things in different ways to others, and how sometimes you can’t trust even your own memories. I studied psychology at A-level and that sparked an interest in me, especially in terms of repression and learned behaviours. I studied creative writing to MA level at university, where I wrote my first thriller, which also focuses on memory. I’m always searching for reads that make me look at human nature differently, or break me out of routine and can offer a surprise. Surprises keep things interesting! 


I wrote...

VOLTA

By Nikki Dudley,

Book cover of VOLTA

What is my book about?

When Briony Campbell confesses to killing her boyfriend, a straightforward crime soon turns into a baffling mystery. Haunted by demons from his past, lawyer SJ Robin is assigned to the case. But as confusion - and the body count - rises, he's forced to question who is guilty and who is innocent. Can he see justice served and hold on to the woman he loves?

A psychological thriller where no one is what they seem.

The Darkness Outside Us

By Eliot Schrefer,

Book cover of The Darkness Outside Us

This science fiction novel from Eliot Schrefer has it all: a thrilling adventure in space, a disembodied robot withholding information, and a pair of adorably opposite boys falling in love. This dramatic story about survival, love, and love as a means of survival is on the upper end of YA, but it’s one you don’t want to miss! Be prepared to laugh, cry, swoon, and throw your book across the room in shock because this one will stick with you long after the final page.


Who am I?

I grew up in Texas where sex-ed curriculums ranged from spotty and misinformed to totally nonexistent. Therefore, as a teenager, I learned about sex from the novels I read—at that time, I was devouring Meg Cabot and John Green books—and I remember wishing for more tangible information. (This was before Urban Dictionary and Tumblr, unfortunately.) Fast forward a decade, and I’m the one writing YA novels. I no longer live in Texas, but my passion for crafting sex-positive, uplifting, and accessible books for teenagers remains central to my life as a writer and reader.


I wrote...

The Night When No One Had Sex

By Kalena Miller,

Book cover of The Night When No One Had Sex

What is my book about?

It's the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe is trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet.

The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school.

The Original Green

By Stephen A. Mouzon,

Book cover of The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability

I had someone laugh at this book for its quirkiness and whimsy. That person is a fool. What Mouzon has produced here is a brilliant compilation of why our ancestors (in the broadest sense of the term) were genius in ways we struggle to even comprehend, let alone appreciate. Steve taught me why it’s not just okay to love a place, but why more places need to become lovable.


Who am I?

Everyone should be able to live a meaningful life in a place they love, where their day-to-day efforts participating in society result in the community becoming a more prosperous place over time, for themselves, and for those who come next. I founded Strong Towns to help people recognize that they have this opportunity, that they and their neighbors working together have the capacity to make things better, despite everything else going on. Cities are works in progress. It is not our job to finish ours, but we all have a role to play in making it stronger.


I wrote...

Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity

By Charles L. Marohn Jr.,

Book cover of Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity

What is my book about?

Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Build American Prosperity breaks with modern practice to present a new vision of urban development in the United States. Presenting the foundational ideas of the Strong Towns movement he co-founded, Charles Marohn explains why cities of all sizes continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, and reveals the new paradigm that can solve this longstanding problem.

Inside, you’ll learn why inducing growth and development has been the conventional response to urban financial struggles―and why it just doesn’t work. New development and high-risk investing don’t generate enough wealth to support themselves, and cities continue to struggle. Read this book to find out how cities large and small can focus on bottom-up investments to minimize risk and maximize their ability to strengthen the community financially and improve citizens’ quality of life.

The Design of the Unix Operating System

By Maurice Bach,

Book cover of The Design of the Unix Operating System

This book looks at UNIX System V Release 2 and Release 3, describing a more modern version of Unix.  It presents pseudo code of the internal algorithms with diagrams of the major data structures used by the system.

Here too, knowing how the operating system works will help you write better code to take advantage of the services provided to you.

Supposedly, Linus Torvalds read this book before he produced the first Linux kernel!


Who am I?

I am a professional software developer and technical author, with a number of books published by O’Reilly and Prentice Hall. I have been working in the C / C++ / Unix / Linux world for over four decades. I am also the maintainer of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Awk interpreter for the awk programming language. I have a passion for writing clear, correct, efficient, and portable code, and for applying the UNIX and Software Tools principles in my development. I hope that this book list will help you climb the learning curve of doing great Unix / Linux development.


I wrote...

Linux Programming by Example

By Arnold Robbins,

Book cover of Linux Programming by Example

What is my book about?

Assuming that you know only the C programming language, this book teaches you the fundamental Unix / Linux Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  Based on industry standards, it helps you learn how to write correct, readable applications that deal with files, processes, signals, user information, and more. It brings example code from original Seventh Edition UNIX programs, as well as from more modern GNU programs, so that you can see how the APIs are used in real programs, and not just in toy examples.

Unix for the Beginning Mage

By Joe Topjian,

Book cover of Unix for the Beginning Mage

Unix/Linux has emerged as the most common operating system in the world. Found on almost every server, smartphone, and network-enabled device, Unix plays a critical role in all aspects of computing. Unix for the Beginning Mage is a fun introduction to Unix for the novice who may be intimidated by other texts.


Who am I?

Dr. Jeremy Kepner is head and founder of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center (LLSC), and also a Founder of the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator. Lincoln Laboratory is a 4000-person National Laboratory whose mission is to create defensive technologies to protect our Nation and the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. Dr. Kepner is one of five Lincoln Laboratory Fellows, a position that "recognizes the Laboratory's strongest technical talent for outstanding contributions to Laboratory programs over many years." Dr. Kepner is recognized as one of nine MIT Fellows of the Society of Industrial Applied Mathematics (SIAM), for "contributions to interactive parallel computing, matrix-based graph algorithms, green supercomputing, and big data." 


I wrote...

Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs

By Jeremy Kepner, Hayden Jananthan,

Book cover of Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs

What is my book about?

Today, the volume, velocity, and variety of data are increasing rapidly across a range of fields, including Internet search, healthcare, finance, social media, wireless devices, and cybersecurity. Indeed, these data are growing at a rate beyond our capacity to analyze them. The tools—including spreadsheets, databases, matrices, and graphs—developed to address this challenge all reflect the need to store and operate on data as whole sets rather than as individual elements. This book presents the common mathematical foundations of these data sets that apply across many applications and technologies. Associative arrays unify and simplify data, allowing readers to look past the differences among the various tools and leverage their mathematical similarities in order to solve the hardest big data challenges.

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