Nice discount on No Starch books

No Starch Press is doing a brief pre-Christmas sale -- 40% off all paper books, and the ebook is included for free. That's cheaper than the normal discount offered for TLPI, and it applies to all No Starch books. But I only found out about this sale a little late: according to http://nostarch.com/newsletters/2011_holiday.htm, the sale finishes at midnight on 3 Dec. I presume that means midnight in California (UTC-8), about 24 hours from now. So, you might want to take a quick look at the full catalog at No Starch.

PS The publisher's costs for international shipping from the US is pretty hefty, but with the free ebooks, and if you're ordering more than one book, the prices might still beat the online bookstores even if you're shipping outside the US.


Slides from OpenFest presentation

The slides from my OpenFest presentation, Why kernel space sucks, can be found here.


Speaking tomorrow at OpenFest

The organizers very kindly invited me to speak at OpenFest in Sofia, Bulgaria. My talk tomorrow is entitled Why Kernel Space Sucks.

That title is of course a reference to the highly amusing presentation of a few years ago by kernel hacker Dave Jones entitled Why Userspace Sucks (MagicPoint presentation). (For the PDF of Dave's complete paper presented at Linux Symposium 2006, look here; LWN.net has a nice tl;dr summary.)

Dave's presentation was all about the ways in which various userspace systems and applications kill performance by wasting system resources on pointless tasks. I'm not contradicting anything that Dave says, but it seems at least fair to point out that there are places where kernel space sucks too. My talk is about one of those places with special interest to me--the kernel-userspace programming interface--a place where kernel developers have inflicted a steady stream of small train wrecks (to borrow Dave's term) on userspace.


LinuxCon Europe

I'll be at LinuxCon Europe, 26-28 October, in Prague, Czech Republic. (In fact, I arrive already on Monday, 24 October.) I'll have a few copies of The Linux Programming Interface with me for sale. If you want to buy a copy (signed even, if you want!), drop me a mail (mtk AT man7.org).


Linux Plumbers Conference

I'm going to be at Linux Plumbers Conference, 7-9 September, in Santa Rosa, California. I'm looking forward to connect up with folk, and spend a couple of days in the Bay Area. I may have a limited number of copies of The Linux Programming Interface with me for sale. If you want to buy a copy directly from me (signed even, if you want!), please contact me by email by the end of this month (mtk AT man7.org).


Updated API Changes page

With the release of Linux 2.6.39, and the opening of the merge window for Linux 2.8.0 (or 2.6.40, or 3.0, or whatever) 3.0, I've updated the API changes page to include recent and upcoming userspace API changes in the Linux kernel. (This page covers changes since Linux 2.6.36, which was the next kernel released after the book went to press.)

Updated 2011-05-30: fixed kernel version number


No Starch Press discount offer further extended

Because TLPI was temporarily out of stock while the second print run was being completed, No Starch Press has further extended their earlier discount offer, allowing you to order the paper version of TLPI from them at a 30% discount (i.e., a total price of US$70 plus shipping), and receive the ebook free (look here for details on the ebook release). The offer is now extended to 30 June 2011.

To obtain the discount (and ebook), you must buy TLPI direct from the publisher's web site, and quote the coupon code Mamaku (what's that?). (No Starch Press is located in San Francisco, so international shipping rates will apply for readers outside North America.)

No Starch Press has the second print run in stock, so they can ship immediately.


Second print run now available

The second print run of The Linux Programming Interface is now available. Sellers such as Amazon are now restocked.


Reworked errata page

I've reworked the errata page to use color and fonts to classify the errata into three broad types and two levels of "severity".

One reason that I've done this is because there are by now quite a few errata. Another reason is because I earlier received a couple of inquiries along the lines "Because there are a lot of errata, should I wait for the second printing of the book before I buy a copy?" My response to this was "probably not", for reasons that I give below.

As of today, there are 104 errata posted on the errata page. One reason that there are a lot of errata is because there is a lot of book: 1500 pages. Another reason is that I'm very conscientious about fixing and documenting all errors that I find or that are reported to me (by contrast, a lot of books don't even maintain an errata list).

However, the observation that there are a lot of errata also needs to be tempered with some analysis. The current set of errata can be broken down (see the coding on the errata page) as follows:
  • 5 fixes to significant code problems.
  • 1 significant fix to an explanation in the text.
  • 1 significant fix to a technical detail explained in the text.
  • 10 minor code fixes. The corresponding code problem is minor and its solution is normally obvious to an attentive reader with a good understanding of C. (The most common culprit here was small code snippets that I wrote directly into the text--complete with syntax errors--rather than extracting directly from source files.)
  • 24 minor technical fixes. These are typically obvious fixes to minor technical errors or imprecisions in the text. (In many cases, these issues probably wouldn't have impacted the reader's understanding of the topic.)
  • 25 minor clarifications. These are improvements or fixes to minor details in the text. In many cases, the fix could simply have been omitted (the problem would have been unlikely to trouble most readers), but I took the opportunity anyway to improve the text because it was easily possible to do so.
  • 38 typo fixes. Spelling and grammar corrections and obvious fixes to wording errors.
For most readers, probably only the first three categories of errata will matter--and possibly a few of those in the fourth category. In other words, the number of significant errata fixed between the two print runs is actually quite small, which is why I counseled those wondering whether to wait for the second print run that they probably didn't need to.

PS Meanwhile, we look to still be on target to have the second print run ready and in shops at the start of May.


Low stock

While we wait for the second print run to complete, it looks like some of the online booksellers (such as Amazon.com) have temporarily run out of stock. The second print run should be completed at the start of next month, and sellers will be restocked within a couple of days after that.


man7.org down this weekend

Currently, the company where I work and host my website is going through a move of offices. As a result, access to the man7.org website will see some interruptions. Everything should be right by Monday.

Update 2011-04-17: And we're back


Second print run going to press

Last December, I wrote that we'd be preparing the second print run of the book soon. That time window changed a bit, mainly because it turned out that the lead time with the publisher became much shorter than we expected, so that it was possible to delay preparation of the print run until later. By now however, reserves from the first print run have run low enough that the files for the second print run have already gone to the publisher, and will emerge from the presses in a few weeks time.

The new print run will incorporate all of the errata reported up to the end of March, and I have now reorganized the main errata page so that it breaks the errata down by the print run in which they were applied (as well as a list of errata queued for the next print run).

Updated 2011-04-16 to fix a wording error.


Using TLPI in a university course? Let me know

I didn't specifically target TLPI at the university market as I wrote it. But, by now I've had emails from a number of university teachers who are using TLPI as a required text or as recommended reading for courses on Linux or UNIX system programming.

If you are a teacher or a student using TLPI in a university course, I'd love to hear about it. In particular, I'm very interested to find out more details about how TLPI is being used as a course book, with the idea in mind of improving a future edition of the book for use in that market. If you're a teacher or a student using TLPI, take a look at the questions here, and drop me a mail.


Training course details posted on my web site

I've posted the full training course outline for the Linux/UNIX system programming course that I teach on my web site. You can find it here.


Japanese translation of TLPI

O'Reilly Japan have reached an agreement with No Starch Press to do a Japanese translation of TLPI. I'll add some more details on the web site when I have them.

Update, 2012-02-18: It's likely that this translation will be published toward the end of 2012. Ongoing information about this and other translations can be found on the TLPI translations page.


Portability versus innovation

Choosing between portability and innovation, is an article on LWN.net by Koen Vervloesem that nicely summarizes the debate about portable application development versus (non-portable) innovation based on a single platform (i.e., Linux).

Although the benefits of portable programming are clear, I also have some sympathy for Lennart Poettering's position (which also gave a nice nod to TLPI):
In fact, the way I see things the Linux API has been taking the role of the POSIX API and Linux is the focal point of all Free Software development. Due to that I can only recommend developers to try to hack with only Linux in mind and experience the freedom and the opportunities this offers you. So, get yourself a copy of The Linux Programming Interface, ignore everything it says about POSIX compatibility and hack away your amazing Linux software. It's quite relieving!
I wrote TLPI in such a way that it could be used for programmers whose goal was portability (to the point that it should be useful even to programmers actually working only on UNIX platforms other than Linux). However, as Lennart suggests, TLPI can equally be used in the converse way: as a guide to fully exploiting the features of Linux, without worrying about portability.

Writing TLPI so that it could be used in these dual roles seemed (and still seems) appropriate for the current circumstances. But, by the time it becomes necessary to do a revision of TLPI, it'll be interesting to see if the operating-system landscape has changed to such an extent that Lennart's argument becomes even more compelling.


No Starch Press discount offer extended

No Starch press has extended their earlier discount offer, allowing you to order the paper version of TLPI from them at a 30% discount (i.e., a total price of US$70 plus shipping), and receive the ebook free (look here for details on the ebook release). The offer is now extended to 30 April 2011 (this is a final deadline).

To obtain the discount (and ebook), you must buy TLPI direct from the publisher's web site, and quote the coupon code Mamaku (what's that?). (No Starch Press is located in San Francisco, so international shipping rates will apply for readers outside North America.)


All ebook formats now available

The full range of ebook formats is now available: PDF, ePub, and mobi. These formats are currently all on sale on the No Starch and O'Reilly web sites, and will also soon be available through online booksellers as well.


ebook status

Some days ago, No Starch Press started selling an ebook version of TLPI. The ebook is also provided for free when you buy a paper copy of TLPI from No Starch (look here for coupon—valid until end of February—that provides a publisher discount for the book+ebook package).

Currently, the ebook is available only in PDF form and only from No Starch. However, a full range of other ebook formats is currently in production, and when those formats are available they will be sold through the usual retail channels (and made available to No Starch customers who already have the ebook). I expect those other formats to be available around mid-February.


Source code download glitch

There's a small glitch in the latest website update, which I won't be able to fix for about 24 hours: on the source code page, the links to the source code tarballs are broken. In the meantime, here are the links for the dist and book tarballs (look here for an explanation of why there are two versions of the tarball).

Update 2011-01-20: The problem is fixed now.

FAQ page

I've added an FAQ page to the TLPI web site, with answers to some questions about TLPI that have come up more than once.


Korean translation of TLPI

Korean publisher Acorn Publishing has signed a contract with No Starch Press to do a Korean translation of TLPI. I've now added a page to the web site with information about translations of TLPI.


Linux 2.6.37 API changes

Linux kernel 2.6.37 was released a few days ago, so I've updated the API changes page with information on the most significant change in 2.6.37: the addition of the fanotify API.


FAQ: Why didn't you cover topic X?

By now, I've had a few questions of the form Why didn't you cover [topic X] in TLPI? Examples of topics that have been mentioned include more socket options in Chapter 61, tracing and debugging techniques, and POSIX AIO.

The general answer to this question is twofold: time and space. There are various additional topics I myself would have liked to include in TLPI, but in the interest of actually finishing the book, I had to draw the line somewhere, and exclude those topics. In addition, as we headed toward production, it became clear that we were going to run close to the limits of what could be printed as a single paper volume (the publisher and I both agreed that we didn't want to go to two volumes). Thus, there wasn't enough space to cover every desirable topic.

Assuming that there is one day a second edition of TLPI, we may well go to two volumes and go into greater detail on some topics and add various topics not covered in the first edition. I'm collecting suggestions for topics to consider for inclusion in future editions of TLPI, if you want to send me specific suggestions.