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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Operating System Concepts 6ed
Author:
Silberschatz et al
ISBN:
0 471 26272 2
Publisher:
Wiley
Pages:
949pp
Price:
£31-95
Reviewer:
Francis Glassborow
Subject:
operating systems
Appeared in:
14-5
As programmers we do need to have some fairly clear ideas about what operating systems are and what we should expect from them. Some with degrees in Computer Science will have learnt about them at college, some with greying hair may have learnt by bitter experience, others may have very little idea other than that it is a long standing sneer that Microsoft Windows is not a proper OS. How can you know if you do not have a clear idea as to what constitutes an OS.

If you feel ignorant and want to spend time correcting that, or if you are responsible for a course on Operating Systems at a college or university then this book is one you should look at. Please note that this book is about concepts and so, while you will find some pseudo code, you will not find source code. [Actually, if you want source code you can purchase the alternativeApplied Operating System Conceptswhere the authors have provided illustrations in Java.]

The authors tackle all aspects of an operating system and illustrate how different real world OSs tackle each issue. Splashed across the front cover is 'Windows XP Update' (There was an earlier version without the Windows XP Update which is also marked as a 6thedition. Why not mark this one as a 7thedition?) which simply means that Windows XP is now included in the OSs that are used as examples. Well there is a little more because Windows XP is used along with Windows 2000 and Linux as case studies. Right at the end, in chapter 23, we see brief coverage of several historical systems such as Atlas, XDS-940 and OS/360. One interesting idea (remember this is designed as a student text) is that three appendices (the FreeBSD System, The Mach System and The Nachos System) are published electronically on the net and not contained in the printed book.

The book has an extensive bibliography and there is extra support for instructors. One thing that puzzles me is the price. The UK price (and the European price in euros) is perfectly respectable for a substantial technical text in hardcover. Yes, it is tough on students to find over£30 for a text, but at least this one is substantial and covers the whole subject. However pity the poor US student who will be asked to cough up $99 (at least that is what Amazon lists it as).

If you have the study time and want to learn all about OSs this is as good a book as you are likely to find. However you will have to put in the hours as this is a tough subject. It is also the kind of book that you can dip into on a chapter-by-chapter basis. So, for example, if you need to get a clear grasp of the issues with virtual memory you could just find a day to study chapter 10 which will tell you all that you are likely to want to know on that subject.

Finally a warning to instructors but helpful to individuals; you will find the answers to most exercises out on the web. Oh, and before I forget, the support for instructors includes such things as slides (in both PowerPoint and PDF format) and a manual.