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DTrace: Dynamic Tracing in Oracle Solaris, Mac OS X and FreeBSD (Oracle Solaris Series)

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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 932
Author/s    : Brendan Gregg, Jim Mauro
Publisher   : Prentice Hall
Category   : Other
Review by : Michael Ernest
Rating        : 8 horseshoes

The last book I tried to use while at my computer was the O'Reilly behemoth Unix Power Tools, a small phone book in both page count and quality. Working through a large book that way might seem like a fool's errand, but it is a tirelessly cross-referenced work. I wasn't just impressed by the vigor and care the contributors had taken to relate so many points of information, I was struck by the implication that I could follow suit. It was a breath of encouragement I was grateful to receive and a gift I think about paying forward, in some way, every time I teach.
This book on DTrace is also quite thick, also filled with lots of hard-won information on examining many dark areas of code. It is, in some ways, a meandering journal, a breathless mash-up of contributions, a collection of clipped, man page-style explanations, and a dry series of code and output blocks the authors deem self-evident. It is also a formidable reference, quite possibly to every DTrace program of general consequence written in the last few years. And it is a tour de force of its lead author, despite some falsely-modest protests to the contrary.
But an 1100-page book needs another handle in addition to a good binding. Unix Power Tools did that with a cross-referencing effort we won't see again. For this book, the reader will have to supply it with passion or expertise. Both, with a continuous caffeine feed, would be better. After a while I downloaded the programs and started working through them. The book so far seems to be a coin-toss for satisfying explanations on what I can't test or divine myself.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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