March 24, 2019

Classic UNIX Programming Text Updated - page 3

Interview with Steve Rago, Co-author of Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

  • July 5, 2005
  • By Ibrahim Haddad

What tools did you use to write the book?

I used vi to edit the files, make to manage the construction of each chapter, groff to typeset the pages, gpic to generate diagrams, gtbl to generate tables, grap to convert data into graphs, loom to insert source code into the book, refer to build the bibliography, and xghostview to preview finished pages. Many awk and shell scripts were used to assist in processing text. The index tools initially developed by Jon Bentley and Brian Kernighan were used to build the index. An interesting (to me, anyway) story surrounds the use of loom. Initially, I couldn't find this tool. It wasn't in the first edition's source material provided by Addison-Wesley. Nobody knew what it was or where it could be found. Internet search engines also failed to find it. (Apparently the search engine technology has since improved, because some can find it now.) Anyway, I had to reverse-engineer the tool from how the book materials used it. I built my own version from scratch. During the three-year period, my disk died, so I had to restore my system from backups. Unfortunately, I forgot to back up my loom source, so I had to reverse-engineer it a second time and write it all over again. There's at least one moral here.

What operating systems do you run at home?

In no particular order, SCO OpenServer 5, SCO UnixWare 7, Mandrake Linux 9.5, Mac OS X 10.3, Solaris 9, FreeBSD 5.2.1, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows 95 (to support some legacy hardware, which I'm about to decommission).

Do you have any plans for new books?

I don't have any immediate plans at this time to write any more books. If I did, my wife would probably kill me. I worked on APUE2e during nights, weekends, and vacations, which took me away from my family. Now I need to spend some time with them.

How did Dilbert make it to the cover?

I've always been a fan of Scott Adams and his Dilbert comic strip. More often than not his humor is true to life. Several Dilberts have used UNIX as the punch line in a joke, so they seemed appropriate for the cover of a UNIX programming book. The Dilbert I originally wanted to use was thought to be too provocative, so I settled on one that was tamer.

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