More Mini Book Reviews

by Pat Eyler

When riding the commuter train into Seattle buys me reading time like this, I've got to wonder why anyone drives. There's something about the unhurried ride into work with a good book that makes your day run a little bit more smoothly.

This time around I've got two books for you, Writing Perl Modules for CPAN by Sam Tregar and Linux Server Hacks by Rob Flickenger. This was my first Apress book and the first in a new series by O'Reilly, respectively, so read on and see what I thought.

As with my last reviews, each short review also contains a rating from 1 to 10. (Tens are still reserved for the perfect book, so don't expect to see one any time soon.)

Writing Perl Modules for CPAN

Title: Writing Perl Modules for CPANAuthor: Sam TregarPublisher: ApressISBN: 1-59059-018-X

Sam did a great job with this book, his writing style is informal and fun to read. When I'd finished the book, I almost felt like I'd simply sat down and talked with Sam.

I enjoyed Apress' style as well; the book looked and read like well written documentation. There wasn't a lot of extra mark-up to get in the way of code examples, and the few icons pointed out information that was worthwhile and more useful because it stood out.

The book contains a good deal of distilled wisdom about writing modules. It also covers using C (both with XS and Inline::C), maintaining modules and the process of module submission. At first I was put off by the last chapter, "CGI Application Modules for CPAN", but as I read through it I found myself feeling better about it.

This book is a nice addition to a Perl programmer's bookshelf, so I'll give it 7 stars. It's certainly a nice compliment to Extending and Embedding Perl (reviewed in my last article) and vice versa.

Linux Server Hacks

Title: Linux Server HacksAuthor: Rob FlickengerPublisher: O'ReillyISBN: 0-596-00461-3

I was able to sit in on an O'Reilly presentation about a month ago, and I heard Rael Dornfest and Nathan Torkington talk about the new Hacks series. As they talked, visions of mini Power Tools books (my favorite O'Reilly books ever) danced in my head. Given this preconception, Rob had some big shoes to fill--he didn't do a bad job, either.

Rob's writing flows well. By its nature, Linux Server Hacks is a bit disjointed, jumping from hack to hack. Rob did a good job of maintaining order throughout, and the cross-indexing is well done. I wish they'd have maintained the marginal cross-index notes of the Power Tools books, though, instead of the "see also" and inline notations used in this book. I also was disappointed that the on-line source is categorized by chapter number while the book doesn't number the chapters.

A true measure of this kind of book, however, is what you learn from it and what you can share with your friends and coworkers. Linux Server Hacks measured up, and I picked up several new tricks that I shared around the office.

I didn't get the book I thought I would, but I'm happy with what I got. Linux Server Hacks gets 7 stars. I'm looking forward to the next books in the series.

Until next time, good reading and happy hacking.

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