Announcing the OpenSolaris Bible

Last year, I wrote a bible. No, I didn’t change my name to Paul or Ezekial. I mean bible in the fourth definition sense of the word. My bible, on the topic of OpenSolaris, will be released next month under the appropriate enough title, OpenSolaris Bible. It’s available now for pre-order from any of the online booksellers.

If you’re interested in OpenSolaris, whether you’re a novice or an experienced user or admin, this book should have something for you. The only prerequisite is some experience with UNIX or Linux; and at close to 1000 pages, we’re able to cover both the basics and many advanced topics. The detailed table of contents (note: PDF link) and index (also PDF link) on the book web site give an idea of the topics and scope of the book.

I’ll have more to say about the contents of the book later, but in this post I’d like to write a little about how and why I wrote it. Four years ago, my first book, Professional C++, was released. I did the project somewhat on a whim, mostly because I was offered the opportunity. I knew I didn’t want to write full-time, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try my hand at it. And of course there was the lure of getting the chance to influence thousands of programmers to code the "right" (i.e. "my") way. However, after spending almost one year working every night and weekend on it, I was ready to focus on other things for a while.

Given that I’m still working full-time for Sun, have added a child to my family, and my wife is just starting her own business, why did I decide to again spend almost a year writing every night and weekend? As any author this side of John Grisham can attest, it’s certainly not for the money. Nor, if I’m being realistic about the market for C++ and OpenSolaris books, is it for the fame. However, there are a few reasons other than just seeing my words in print again.

First and foremost, I strongly believe that the OpenSolaris community needs this book. At the time we started writing there were no books available or, as far as we knew, even in the works, on OpenSolaris. In fact, OpenSolaris Bible will be the first English-language book on OpenSolaris. A good tutorial and reference book on OpenSolaris is imperative in order for the technology to gain hold and grow market share in the open source community.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why I wrote the book myself, especially since I’m not a core Solaris engineer directly involved in developing the OpenSolaris distribution. To be frank, one reason is simply that I enjoy taking opportunities that come my way.

More importantly, however, I work for Sun, am involved in the OpenSolaris community, and use OpenSolaris every day. I am quite familiar with the details and intricacies of OpenSolaris and knew that I would be comfortable writing the content of the book. As with Professional C++, I wrote the book that I would want to have as my tutorial and reference. Additionally, having written Professional C++, I had the contacts at Wiley, and knew that I was capable of writing a book of this magnitude.

That said, there was no way I could have written this book by myself. I had a great experience working with Scott on Professional C++, and at first wasn’t sure I could repeat it. However, I was extremely lucky to find two amazing co-authors: Jerry and Dave. They both have a rare combination of exceptional technical knowledge and the ability to explain it clearly in writing. (If you’ve spent much time around technical folks, you’ll know that second quality is in short supply). In particular, Jerry’s understanding of Zones, virtualization, file systems, and a host of other topics, and Dave’s knowledge about the OpenSolaris distribution, IPS, Networking, and pretty much everything else were invaluable. They wrote all the hard chapters, including some material that took significant research and testing.

And in addition to their technical abilities, Dave and Jerry were both a pleasure to work with. Although I don’t think we’ve all three ever been in the same place at the same time, we didn’t just each go off into a locked room and write our chapters. We had weekly phone conversations and innumerable email exchanges about all sorts of subjects from global chapter topics and ordering to detailed questions about a particular technical issue. Additionally, we each reviewed each other’s chapters in detail several times, and all kept our eyes out for OpenSolaris changes that would impact any of our material. I believe that this diligence shows, and that the resultant tome, in my obviously biased opinion, is a well-organized, comprehensive, and cohesive tutorial and reference on OpenSolaris.

But that’s just my opinion. I’m looking forward to hearing yours!


Nick - Congratulations on the book! Looks great.

Posted by Harold Carr on January 20, 2009 at 03:32 PM MST #

Congrats, Nick! How do I order an autographed copy? No seriously -- we use OpenSolaris at Context Optional. Let me know when it's in stores!

Posted by Scott J. KLeper on January 22, 2009 at 03:02 AM MST #

Preordered it as soon as I went through the contents. Seriously...

The amount of [Open]Solaris documentation available makes it important to have something like this around. Thanks.

Posted by Chavdar Ivanov on January 22, 2009 at 07:26 AM MST #

Thanks guys for gathering such a broad knowledge on this living subject in the book!
Tremendous effort which could be a very fruitful and a handy on-desk reference for OpenSolaris fans.
I pre-ordered your book and am anxiously looking for receiving it.
Thanks a lot!

Posted by Jacek Laska on January 23, 2009 at 07:28 AM MST #

This is real cool Nick. Congratulations to all 3 of you. The book is very much needed.

Posted by Tirthankar Das on January 25, 2009 at 01:02 AM MST #

Congratulations to all of you for completing this book! This is so timely. All this in addition to your day jobs! I am sure the Open HA Cluster community will also benefit from the book.

Posted by Meenakshi on January 25, 2009 at 12:45 PM MST #

Thanks for doing this. The links are backwards for the Table of Contents and Index though.

Posted by Daniel Anderson on January 28, 2009 at 04:23 AM MST #

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far for the congratulations and excitement about the book!

@Daniel, thanks for the correction.

Posted by Nicholas Solter on January 28, 2009 at 09:02 AM MST #

I'm truly impressed, just made the purchase. I've read all kinds of unix books in my life time but this is truly the most enjoyable; gets me excited about all the technology I really haven't used in solaris. Really amazed at the new & old features covered. My hats off to you.

Posted by sid wilroy on February 20, 2009 at 06:13 AM MST #

@sid - Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback! It's really rewarding to hear these kinds of comments. Have fun exploring the technology you haven't yet used in OpenSolaris :-)

Posted by Nicholas Solter on February 23, 2009 at 09:29 AM MST #

Great book Nick! Would love to meet you some day. Shoot, maybe I'll just knock on the door since you are my nieghbor! Good job sir, a lot of work for sure! Now I really owe you a coffee!

Posted by Tim Chambers on March 19, 2009 at 01:39 PM MDT #

Thanks for the Book, I just picked up a copy of your book at a local Barnes and Noble last weekend. I have used Linux for years (RH 4.x days and that is not RHEL either). I installed OpenSolaris on my Eeepc 1000H, and it is great. I have a lot of learning to do!

More to follow when I have some time to dive into it.

Posted by W. Charles Alexander on April 30, 2009 at 03:17 AM MDT #

This looks like a great starting point for new OpenSolaris users (like myself)!

However, since I'm anxiously waiting for a release which will support my laptop hardware (cross my fingers for 2010.02, but not likely), I'm worried that this edition will be outdated by the time I take the plunge.

Hence, I wonder if there are any follow-up editions planned (if only in thought) that covers future editions of OpenSolaris. I'm a big fan of the "complete guide" concept and would really love to pick up a fresh OpenSolaris Bible when time comes.

Posted by Mikael Lindsten on September 30, 2009 at 05:56 PM MDT #

Mikael: Thanks for your interest in OpenSolaris and the OpenSolaris Bible. Although some content in the book will of course be out of date by 2010.02 or later, most of the content of the book should actually still be valid and useful for the foreseeable future. The fundamentals of ZFS, DTrace, SMF, and so on aren't changing a whole lot.

We don't currently have plans for a second edition, but that doesn't mean it won't happen at some point. I'll be sure to announce it on my blog if it does.

Posted by Nicholas Solter on October 02, 2009 at 08:42 AM MDT #

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Nick Solter is a software engineer and author living in Colorado.


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