Found in 17 comments on Hacker News
tristor · 2021-09-08 · Original thread
I don't have any one complete book that I can recommend, and I don't even really have a great reading list for this. But I'll make an attempt to share what I think is useful as a starting point.

1. Systems Operations is first and foremost about understanding systems, in all of their complexity, which means understanding the internals of your OS primarily.

2. Performance and networking, in particular, are super important areas to focus on understanding when it comes to learning the topic to help with software development.

3. A lot of it is about understanding concepts in abstract and being able to extrapolate to other situations and apply these concepts, so there's actually quite a lot of useful information that can be learned on one OS and still applied to another OS (or on one game engine and applied to another, et al).

Here's a few books I think are worth reading, not in any particular order of prevalence, but loosely categorized


High Performance MySQL:

SQL Queries for Mere Mortals:

The Art of SQL:


TCP/IP Illustrated: (updates on author's site at

The TCP/IP Guide:

UNIX Network Programming:

Beej's Guide to Network Programming:

Operating Systems:

Operating Systems Concepts: (various editions, I have the 7th edition... I recommend you find the latest)

Modern Operating Systems: (the "Tanenbaum Book")

Operating Systems Design and Implementation: (the other one, the "MINIX Book")

Windows Internals:

Part 1:

Part 2: (I had the pleasure of being taught from this book by Mark Russinovich and David Solomon at a previous employer, was an amazing class and these books are incredible resources even applied outside of Windows, we used 5th edition, I linked 7th, which has the 2nd part pending publication).

MacOS Internals:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Linux Kernel Programming:

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Linux Programming Interface:

General Systems Administration:

Essential Systems Administration:

UNIX and Linux Systems Administration Handbook:

The Linux Command Line and Shell Scripting Bible:

UNIX Shell Programming:

BASH Hackers Wiki:

TLDP Advanced BASH Scripting Guide:

The Debian Administrator's Handbook:

TLDP Linux System Administrator's Guide:

Performance & Benchmarking:

Systems Performance: (this is Brendan Gregg's book where you learn about the magic of dtrace)

BPF Performance Tools: (the newer Brendan Gregg book about BPF, stellar)

The Art of Computer Systems Performance Analysis: (no longer available from Amazon, but is available direct from publisher. This is basically the one book you should read about creating and structuring benchmarks or performance tests)

I guess that's a "reading list", but this is just a small part of what you need to know to excel in systems operations.

I would say for the typical software developer writing web applications, the most important thing to know is how databases work and how networking works, since these are going to be the primary items affecting your application performance. But there's obviously topics not included in this list that are also worth understanding, such as browser/DOM internals, how caching and CDNs work, and web-specific optimizations that can be achievable with HTTP/2 or QUIC.

For the average software developer writing desktop applications, I'd say make sure you /really/ understand OS internals... at the base everything you do on a computer system is based on what the OS provides to you. Even though you are abstracted (possibly many layers) away from this, being able to peel back the layers and understand what's /really/ happening is essential to writing high-quality application code that is performant and secure, as well as making you a champ at debugging issues.

If you're trying to get into systems operations as a field, this is just a brush over the top surface and there's a lot deeper diving required.

solomatov · 2021-02-22 · Original thread
I highly recommend this book:

All system call interfaces, as well as how system calls happen are thoroughly documented there. Though, I would just use libc, since all this stuff is a bit messy and have plenty of legacy stuff.

teleforce · 2020-09-06 · Original thread
Please check "The C Interfaces and Implementations" book by David Hanson [1]. Someone has implemented the concept using his library that you can check and use [2].

Another excellent reference is the "The Linux Programming Interface" book by Michael Kerrisk that documents most of the API available under Linux [3].




cfors · 2019-10-30 · Original thread
As another resource, I just finished up the chapters of The Linux Application Programming Interface [0] that described this.

Highly recommend this book, its filled with fun tidbits of Linux-lore.


CameronBanga · 2018-07-16 · Original thread
Maybe wrong Amazon page (or the store being down made it wonky), I see over 150 reviews. Very stellar response, I'm going to up my backing to get it now:

techjuice · 2017-07-08 · Original thread
If you want to become a professional and not just a dabbler I would recommend reading some of the following books I have in my bookshelf:

[0] RHCSA & RHCE Training and Exam Preparation Guide by Asghar Ghori. This book will help insure you know your stuff as your system engineer/administrator wise.

[1] A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editor and Shell Programming Third Edition. This book will cover the majority of what you would need and want to know when connecting to a remote linux system over ssh.

If you want to get under the hood and become an expert, the following books should help get you started:

[2] Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

[3] The Linux Programming Interface: A Linux and UNIX System Programming Handbook

[4] Linux Kernel Development 3rd Edition

To get a nice general overview and get up and going quickly:

[5] How Linux works: What every superuser should know

[6] The Linux Command Line

[7] Python Crash Course

[8] Automate the boring stuff with Python. This is a great book to help you think about how to automate most of the repetitive things you will end up doing on a regular basis.










W0lf · 2017-06-05 · Original thread
I've gathered all the book titles in this thread and created Amazon affiliate links (if you don't mind. Otherwise you still have all the titles together :-) )

A Pattern Language, Alexander and Ishikawa and Silverstein

Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment , Stevens

Algorithmics: the Spirit of Computing, Harel

Applied Crytography, Wiley

Clean Code, Martin

Clean Coder, Martin

Code Complete, McConnel

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Petzold

Coders at Work, Seibel

Compilers: Principles, Techniques, & Tools, Aho

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, O'Hallaron and Bryant

Data Flow Analysis: Theory and Practice, Khedker

Dependency Injection in .NET, Seemann

Domain Driven Design, Evans

Fundamentals of Wireless Communication, Tse and Viswanath

Genetic Programming: An Intrduction, Banzhaf

Head First Design Patterns, O'Reilly

Implementing Domain-Driven Design, Vernon

Intrduction to Algorithms, CLRS

Introduction to General Systems Thinking, Weinberg

Joy of Clojure, Fogus and Houser

Let over Lambda, Hoyte

Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, Tanenbaum

Parsing Techniques, Grune and Jacobs

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, DeMarco and Lister

Programming Pearls, Bentley

Software Process Design: Out of the Tar Pit, McGraw-Hill

Software Runaways, Glass

Sorting and Searching, Knuth

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Abelson and Sussman

The Art of Unit Testing, Manning

The Art of Unix Programming, ESR

The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist, Brooks

The Effective Engineer, Lau

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White

The Healthy Programmer, Kutner

The Linux Programming Interface, Kerrisk

The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks

The Practice of Programming, Kernighan and Pike

The Pragmatic Programmer, Hunt and Thomas

The Psychology of Computer Programming, Weinberg

Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques, Gray and Reuter

Types and Programming Languages, Pierce

Understanding MySQL Internals, Pachev

Working Effectively with Legacy Code, Feathers

Zen of graphics programming, Abrash

nlg · 2017-01-20 · Original thread
I've really enjoyed the book The Linux Programming Interface by Kerrisk as a guide for learning some of these types of low level concepts.

ctur · 2016-03-24 · Original thread
Two alternative, and better, choices, if you're willing to spend a few dollars (and hopefully expense it to your manager):

The Linux Programming Interface:

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment:

A not-too-distant third choice, Linux System Programming:

incision · 2014-09-17 · Original thread
Not exactly.

What really sets this book apart, in my opinion, is just how readable it is. I haven't run across anything with quite the same combination of style and depth for Linux.

You could read through something like The Linux Programming Interface [1] or Understanding the Linux Kernel [2] and with effort extract much of the same information, but without the pace/structure/commentary that I think this book does so well.

Thing is, conceptually much of what you'll read in this book will be applicable to Linux just fine and having read it will make it far easier to grok how/where the two differ.

1: 2:

incision · 2013-11-24 · Original thread
Very nice summary.

I encountered many of these while reading through Understanding The Linux Kernel [0] and The Linux Programming Interface [1].

Both are great books which are primarily about the "how" of the kernel, but cover a lot of the "why" of the design and algorithms as well.



scott_s · 2013-05-07 · Original thread
Asking $30 for a book is shocking? I expect to pay at least that for a good technical book. This is a book I paid $60 for: I did so because the information in it is relevant to my job, it's unlikely to change in a significant way over the next decade, and I was tired of not having a single place to look up Linux systems stuff.

If I was a web developer using Meteor, I imagine I would come to a similar conclusion about this book - with the exception that because it's online, the authors can update it over time.

robomartin · 2012-11-27 · Original thread
OK, if you don't have any real experience in low-level embedded coding (relevant to device drivers), RTOS or OS design in general, file systems, data structures, algorithms, interfaces, etc. And, if you have "hobby level" experience with Assembler, C and C++. And, if your intent is to write a desktop OS, from the ground up, without making use of existing technologies, drivers, file systems, memory management, POSIX, etc. Here's a list of books that could be considered required reading before you can really start to write specifications and code. Pick twenty of these and that might be a good start.

In no particular order:






















































54- ...well, I'll stop here.

Of course, the equivalent knowledge can be obtained by trial-and-error, which would take longer and might result in costly errors and imperfect design. The greater danger here is that a sole developer, without the feedback and interaction of even a small group of capable and experienced programmers could simply burn a lot of time repeating the mistakes made by those who have already trenched that territory.

If the goal is to write a small RTOS on a small but nicely-featured microcontroller, then the C books and the uC/OS book might be a good shove in the right direction. Things start getting complicated if you need to write such things as a full USB stack, PCIe subsystem, graphics drivers, etc.

skb_ · 2012-10-09 · Original thread
The Linux Programming Interface by Kerrisk has pretty thorough coverage of sockets (and everything else).

pwaring · 2012-10-02 · Original thread
Isn't Bovet & Cesati a bit out of date now? I used to have a copy, but it was published in 2005, which means it was probably written in 2004.

Also, it's not kernel-specific, but this book covers a lot of system programming concepts (expensive though):

joshbaptiste · 2011-11-13 · Original thread
The Linux Programming Interface: A Linux and UNIX System Programming Handbook

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