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Programming From the Ground Up

by Jonathan Bartlett

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About Book

Joel Spolsky, JoelOnSoftware.com
I highly recommend working through this book even if you'll never program assembly again... you'll be a vastly better programmer.

Book Description
Programming from the Ground Up is an introduction to programming using assembly language on the Linux platform for x86 machines. It is a great book for novices who are just learning to program as well as for intermediates who have never learned or mastered assembly language programming. It covers many topics skipped by other similar books, including memory management, debugging, interfacing with C, dynamic libraries, and even a bit on GUI programming.

From the Publisher
We were excited to publish this book for several reasons. First of all, very few books on assembly language deal with the Linux platform. In fact, most of the ones in use today are either stuck teaching MS-DOS 16-bit assembly language or teaching the MIPS architecture assembly language. Neither of these is particularly useful in modern programming, and 16-bit x86 assembly language is a complete nightmare for new programmers.

This book fills a real need right now. It is the only book available that (a) is readable by new programmers, (b) focuses on the cleaner 32-bit assembly language, (c) targets the Linux platform, and (d) uses the tools that are available standard on Linux distributions. The other Linux assembly language books require downloading and installing third-party assemblers, while this book uses the one that comes with the gcc tool chain.

This book also fills a need in the industry. Right now there are numerous programmers who either never got a formal education or went to a school that did not require assembly language programming. When you don't understand assembly language, you miss out on learning how the computer thinks and acts underneath the hood. This book has helped numerous programmers come back and learn assembly language and really understand how the computer works. If assembly language has been a "black magic" subject for you, this book will help you out.

From the Author
The difference between mediocre and star programmers is that star programmers understand assembly language, whether or not they use it on a daily basis. Programming from the Ground Up gives programmers the edge they need to be successful.

From the Inside Flap
Assembly language is the language of the computer itself. To be a programmer without ever learning assembly language is like being a professional race car driver without understanding how your carburetor works. To be a truly successful programmer, you have to understand exactly what the computer sees when it is running a program. Nothing short of learning assembly language will do that for you. Assembly language is often seen as a black art among today's programmers - with those knowing this art being more productive, more knowledgeable, and better paid, even if they primarily work in other languages.

Programming from the Ground Up uses Linux assembly language to take you a step at a time through these concepts:

* How the processor views memory
* How the processor operates
* How programs interact with the operating system
* How computers represent data internally
* How to do low-level and high-level optimization

Programming from the Ground Up includes access to online updates and a mailing list for readers of the book to discuss it with each other and the author.

According to Joel Spolsky from JoelOnSoftware.com:

"Trying to be a programmer without understanding how a CPU works is like trying to practice medicine without learning anatomy. Sure, you can have limited success curing patients with medical advice gleaned from Google, but on the whole you're going to be a pretty bad doctor. For those who missed out on learning assembly language, I highly recommend working through this book, even if you'll never program in assembly again. I promise that all kinds of lights will go on in your head and you'll be a vastly better programmer."

Programming from the Ground Up is being used by Princeton University in their COS 217 course, "Introduction to Programming Systems".

About the Author
Jonathan Bartlett is the Director of Technology at New Media Worx, where he architects custom software solutions for a variety of companies. Previously he has worked for EDS in their midrange department, as the Manager of Internet Systems Development for Wolfram Research, and as a webmaster for several different companies.



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