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Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag, May 25 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of UNIX Programming (Paperback)
Eric does a good job of covering the history of UNIX. I wish there was more content from his "guest" writers -- they have more interesting and authoritative stories to tell. It's a good book if you like his style: a complex and changing mix between high-brow and plain-talk, history and personal opinions.
The author would do well to follow his own advice: page 434, "Don't think for a moment that volume will be mistaken for quality." Don't worry, we won't. This is about the fattest and most wordy UNIX book you can find.
I like how he continually disses the 'make' command for using a tab character in its 'makefile'. He calls it: "one of the worst design botches in the history of Unix". Then how can he wax poetic over Python, which also uses white space in a syntactically meaningful way?
His distain for Tcl is apparent, but I wish he'd at least hate a version that's been made in the last 9 years. Quoting Ousterhout from 1995 doesn't seem relevant in 2004. Tcl has had namespaces for quite awhile now, and there are "batteries included" distributions. Saying it's simple, and then claiming it's complex, doesn't make sense.
Finally, one of his examples of stellar programming is Audacity. I tried it and found it quite lacking. It's great if you want buttons as large as quarters, but the functionality wasn't enough for my modest editing needs.
Yeah, I'm way too picky. But it's a $40 (list) book, so it ought to be better than it is. Perhaps it would have enjoyed life as an on-line book. On the other hand, there's nothing else like it on the market, so we have to be grateful that he put all the hard work into making it.
Anon, just for the heck of it.
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