Found in 6 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.

rpeden · 2021-06-21 · Original thread
The best start would probably be both parts of Windows Internals:

These aren't about programming per se, but if you want to do systems programming it helps to have a detailed understanding of the system. :)

After that, specific reading probably depends on the exact task you want to perform, but MS has good documentation and tutorials in many areas. Writing drivers, for example:

kyberias · 2019-09-02 · Original thread
Oh come on!

Certainly all systems have undocumented stuff that are left undocumented because the users are not supposed to use it. If they would, they couldn't change it.

pjmlp · 2019-06-30 · Original thread

- MacOS (pre-OS X)

"Revolution in the Valley"


Debatable about non-C non-Unixy part, but it surely isn't the focus of the whole stack.

"Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach"

- Oberon and its derivatives (1992 and 2013 versions, System 3, Insight ETHOS and A2)

- Symbian

"Symbian OS Internals: Real-time Kernel Programming"

"Symbian OS Platform Security: Software Development Using the Symbian OS Security Architecture"

"The Symbian OS Architecture Sourcebook: Design and Evolution of a Mobile Phone OS"

- Mesa and Mesa/Cedar

- JX


- Singularity,

- Barrelfish

- Midori,

"RustConf 2017 - Closing Keynote: Safe Systems Software and the Future of Computing"

"While never reaching commercial release, at one time Midori powered all of Microsoft’s natural language search service for the West Coast and Asia."


- Helios

- Muen

- GenodeOS

- Inferno

- Minix 3

- BeOS

"Be Developer's Guide"

"Be Advanced Topics"

- Windows

Not everything by a long shot, plenty more to re-discover like VMS,IBM i and Z, Unisys ClearPath, mbed,...

Just keep an open mind and don't idolatrize UNIX, yes it has a couple of good ideas, but they don't make it the be all end all of OS design.

mrguyorama · 2018-01-19 · Original thread
The series of books known as "Windows System Internals"[0]

Raymond Chen of "Old New Thing" fame and all his friends[1]

The creator of process monitor occasionally writes nice blog posts about troubleshooting[2]

A lot of historical NT stuff is still valid, or at least mildly relevant today.




dr_zoidberg · 2015-12-21 · Original thread
Windows Internals 7th Edition Book 1 is available already[0], and there will be 2 more books[1]. Russinovich and Solomon have stepped down a while ago, according to that forum thread, but the new book lists them as authors because Catlin and Hanrahan worked over the already existing stuff.



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