Operating System Concepts Essentials Paperback – 8 Nov 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The most egregious issue with this book is the way it handles vocab words. Apparently, for a 700 page book an index is enough -- it has no glossary. Which is perfectly fine if ALL of the vocab words are defined in the text. But they aren't.
Here is an example for you: I'm reading through chapter one, it's going okay. Finish, start on my assigned exercise questions. For Question 1.8, the reader must determine which of the following instruction options should require elevated privileges. Option f. reads "Modify entries in device-status table." Hmm... I don't remember reading about a device-status table. Maybe I spaced out. Well, let me check the glossary. Oh yeah, no glossary. Let me check the index. WTF, this isn't in the index either. Okay, let me go re-read the privileges section... Section 1.5.1 Dual Mode Operation. Nope, not mentioned in there either. WTF. Google device-status table, get linked to Silberschatz lecture slides for this specific book. Look through the slides: Ah, there is the term. It's in the I/O Structure section of the lecture, which corresponds to Section 1.2.3 I/O Subsystems. Read that. IT'S NOT IN THERE! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Nope, it's really not. The question in the exercises is based on a vocab word only seen in the lectures (and likely the real book, but sure as hell not the essentials version).
At this point, I said screw this book. Luckily I have William Stallings' Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles 6e on hand. I start comparing the books. I read the first chapter of Stallings, just like I did this one. It's very informative. It doesn't have nearly as much fluff as Silberschatz did.
Silberschatz's book takes relatively straightforward concepts and obscures their details. I'll just use one piece of specific coverage as an example why, juxtaposing it with Stallings: After reading Stallings Ch. 1, his treatment of Interrupts and I/O already exceeded the coverage of the entire Silberschatz book (meaning Ch. 12 specifically). Plus he uses an abundance of visuals, which actually help you understand how the interrupts work. He uses interrupts as immediate motivation for his discussion of Direct Memory Access (DMA), which makes sense because DMA was literally invented to allow the processor not to get caught up in large I/O transfers (which used to be done by INTERRUPTS).
Long story short: Silberschatz (at least the Essentials version) is an overly verbose, watered down coverage of Operating Systems, with occasional inconsistencies and lacking definitions. I highly recommend you pursue another Operating Systems author (Stallings does the trick for me).
EDIT (9 months later):
I wanted to come back to this review to provide more details. I had gone through the book in full by the end of the fall 2013 semester. The book was still mediocre at best. The end of chapter problems are ridiculous. However, the book actually did a good job with a few topics. As a result, I've bumped my rating up from one to two stars -- it's not absolute garbage, but still pretty crappy. Stallings is a little better in my opinion, but has plenty of its own shortcomings (for another review).
The book that I highly recommend to all instructors and students is called "Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces." You won't find it on Amazon -- they print on demand to make it affordable for the students. The most expensive option, hardcover, is ~40 bucks. The cheapest option is, well, free. They've posted the chapters on their website for any and all to view. Who are they? The Dean of Computer Science and University of Wisconsin, and her husband, who happens to be a full professor of CS there. They've done operating systems research for the past twenty years, and they truly have the insight to make a great OS book. Admittedly, the organization of the book is a little non-standard, but it works. They've imparted so much wisdom and care in making the book. Every topic is well motivated. Seriously, the scheduling coverage of this book blew my mind, it was so well done. Just google "OSTEP" if you're interested. It's pretty incredible.