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Interview: Ask Tim O'Reilly

Roblimo posted more than 15 years ago | from the pick-your-favorite-animal dept.

News 106

Tim O'Reilly is, of course, the founder and guiding light of O'Reilly & Associates, which publishes stacks of books about programming in general and Open Source programming in particular, along with authoritative Linux manuals and a whole bunch of other stuff. Want to become an O'Reilly author? Ask Tim how. Or ask him anything else. Moderators will select the 10 - 15 questions we forward on Tuesday. Answers will appear Friday, and we cordially invite Tim to join the discussion Friday (if he has time) and add more comments or respond to any questions he found interesting but weren't moderated high enough to make the "first cut."

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competition (2)

kootch (81702) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700401)

How do you feel about the competition among publishers relating to tech books (ie Computing for Dummies) and will their choices to distribute via e-books format influence your discision to go this route? Is there a level of competition among these authors/publishing co's?

Also, being into the cutting edge of technology and publishing, what are some books you've read non programming related that you've enjoyed?

Poor binding on O'Reilly books... (5)

zilym (3470) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700402)

Are there any plans to improve the binding on your future books? Many of us use O'Reilly books to death and the binding is the first to go. I know I certainly wouldn't mind pay slightly more for a stronger version of some of the most heavily used titles.

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (1)

Lamont (3347) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700403)

I like the fact that many of the Microsoft books are written from the unix admin's perspective. Since I too have to work with M$ technologies every day, I welcome O'Reilly's cool and clear explanations....

why are you doing a talk at Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700404)

A friend who works over in MS told me that you are doing a ESR and doing a talk over there?? ESR was bribed using dinners with his fav. authors, what about you?!

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (2)

mvw (2916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700405)

I'd nominate E.Coli for "MS Exchange Sever."

After having wasted more than half a day of work with MS Visual C++, I'd suggest a "Dung Beetle" for that one.
(The small guy doing by far the better compiling :)

Advice for the Linux Documentation Project (LDP)? (5)

jzawodn (29312) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700406)


Given some of the recent discussion surrounding the Linux Documentation Project (LDP), I began to wonder about its long-term direction and viability.

I "grew up" with Linux by reading *many* of the HOWTOs and other documents that were part of the LDP. In many ways, I'd have been lost without the LDP. But with the growth of Linux mind-share and increased demand for texts that help newcomers get acquainted with the various aspects of running their own Linux systems, there seems to have been a stagnation in much of the free documentation. I can't help but to wonder if many of the folks who would be working on LDP-type material have opted to write books for publishers instead.

Where do you see free documentation projects like the LDP going? What advice can you offer to the LDP and those who write documents for inclusion in the project? Might we see electronic versions of O'Reilly books (or parts of them) included in free documentation projects.


Electronic Publishing Formats (5)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700407)

I was just given a copy of The Unix CD Bookshelf as a gift. At first, I was suprised at the price (List price of $69.95 for six tittles - UNIX Power Tools, 2nd Edition; Learning the UNIX Operating System, 4th Edition; sed & awk, 2nd Edition; UNIX in a Nutshell, System V Edition (with a dead-tree copy included); Learning the vi Editor, 5th edition; Learning the Korn Shell). Then I was shocked to find out that the books were published in HTML with an optional Java based search engine. This leads to several questions.

First, in this day and age, electronic publications (e-books) seem to be synonymous with encryption and proprietary data formats to protect copyright. Why did O'Reilly & Associates decide to use an open, and technically unprotected, format? Do you think this is a big risk? What advantages outweigh possible risks?

Secondly, this CD set provides an amazing cost savings. UNIX Power Tools alone lists for about $60. Are electronic formats cheaper to produce? Or are the CD sets considered accompanyment to already sold paper books? Is there a risk of cutting into existing traditional book sales?

I'd like to quickly say how much I like the CD set. The open format makes using it a breeze - I got a chuckle at Lynx being listed amoung the acceptable browsers (very cool). An electronic copy makes it so much easier to keep my reference material close-at-hand (no more "damn... I left that book at home / work"). I've really enjoyed this format; please consider offering more tittles on CD.

Re:Freely redistributable books -- Linux NAG (1)

Chris Siegler (3170) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700408)

He already answered that question satisfactorily: it didn't sell enough copies to motivate the authors to write a new edition.

Re:Electronic Publishing Formats (1)

mvw (2916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700409)

Then I was shocked to find out that the books were published in HTML with an optional Java based search engine. This leads to several questions.

First, in this day and age, electronic publications (e-books) seem to be synonymous with encryption and proprietary data formats to protect copyright. Why did O'Reilly & Associates decide to use an open, and technically unprotected, format? Do you think this is a big risk?

Good point. I was lucky to buy the excellent Effective C++ CD-ROM by Scott Meyers (it contains both Meyers books and several magazine articles in HTML) very early via German

I recommended this most useful CD-ROM to many colleagues, but Amazon does not offer it anymore in Germany. I suspect due to pirating.

Timebombed/Crippled Utilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700410)

I'm disappointed that you have started including timebombed/crippled versions of utilities with your books (for example, the O'Reilly Utilities included with Windows 98 Annoyances). If you think the software included is worthwhile, wouldn't it be better to up the price of the book a few bucks and give us the real utilities? Wouldn't you get more money by tacking on a buck or two to each book and having that spread over the total sales of the book than by selling the utilities seperately? Or are the O'Reilly Utilities making you a lot of money as it is? What percentage of the book buyers are opting for buying them? And if the utilities are making you a significant amount, is it worth tarnishing your formerly good reputation to be doing business this way?

URL for the article (2)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700411)

The article I'm referring to is here [] .

Re:The post that launched a thousand flames... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700412)

I would like to second this. I pought the MySQL book (and love it) but intend to use PostgreSQL because of its transaction support.

Re:Poor binding on O'Reilly books... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700413)

Sorry, but I don't agree. I love the 'lie flat' bindings used by O'Reilly. Perhaps I am not agressive enough with my books!

O'Reilly as Internet Pioneer (2)

cshotton (46965) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700414)

Back in '93-'94, O'Reilly was one of the true Web pioneers with one of the first portals (GNN) and a stable of commercial Web servers (I know, you almost landed my MacHTTP product as one of them). Web servers obviously turned out to be a commodity business, but I wonder if you have any thoughts or regrets regarding the early sale of GNN?

Budding Authors Want to Know (5)

maelstrom (638) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700417)

Although I am majoring in Computer Science, I have been trying my hand at a little bit of Technical Writing here and there.

My questions are:

  • What techniques/tips do you have for future Tech Writers?
  • What books would you recommend a budding writer should read and study?

And somewhat unrelated: Do you read every book you publish?

Do you have a least favourite book? (5)

Tet (2721) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700418)

Are there any books that you look back on and wish you hadn't bothered with? In particular, I'm thinking about John Bloomer's Power Programming with RPC [] , which is the only book I feel tarnishes O'Reilly's good name. It the only one I've read (and I've got most of them, to be honest :-) that I feel is poorly written and difficult to read. For a programming book not to include a simple "Hello, world!" type program until chapter 6 or so is, IMHO, pretty unforgivable.

how do you decide on "long-range" topics (2)

Patman (32745) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700419)

Tim - How exactly do you decide which topics are "flash-in-the-pan" and which topics are going to stick around longer, and thus worth writing a book about? Also, how much does customer input factor in on your decisions as to which books to write/print?

O'Reilly Software versus Books (1)

Mike Greaves (1236) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700420)

I am struck by the fact that O'Reilly sells proprietary software (WebSite and friends) as well as books which are (mostly) about open-source software. I believe there will always be proprietary software, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. But open source has worked so well for infrastructural projects, like tools and servers. And companies like Cygnus and Red Hat are certainly doing well financially with primarily open-source business models.

WebSite - a web server - obviously falls into the infrastructure category where open source projects have done so well. I'm wondering if you'd comment on why you decided to make it proprietary?

Stance on digital copys (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700421)

It would be nice if either with or seperate from one of the books you publish I was able to get a version in HTML or postscript. Most of the people who buy your books are computer literate and it would be useful to bring say, "The Perl Cookbook", on a business trip rather than lugging the actual book around with the laptop. Ben.

Its pretty keen (1)

Xunker (6905) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700422)

Well, you must admit that it is very keen, instead of saying "Running Linux Editon 2", just saying "The Horse Book".

I wonder where Tim or whoever got the idea of using animals for refernce in the first place?

Free book: "GTK+/GNOME Application Development" (2)

ole (19909) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700423)

Free software, like GTK+ and GNOME, need free documentations.

Havoc Pennington's GTK+/Gnome Application Development covers a whole range of GTK+/GNOME features, packed with example code. Since the GNOME API reference documentation can be quite hairy for the beginning GNOMEr, HP's book is hopefully closing this gap.

Havoc Pennington, the author, should be known to a lot of people in the Free Software community. He has been working on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, programming with GTK+ for several years, and has become a very active Gnome developer. He is responsible for creating many components of the Gnome libraries as well as contributing several free software programs to the GNOME project. He also writes the weekly GNOME Summary, helps people on the GNOME mailinglists, and was recently hired by Red Hat, to focus on GNOME at the Red Hat Advanced Developments Labs.

The easiest way to get it is probably to order it [] in paperback.

Book subscription (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700424)

Could you consider introducing an O'Reilly subscription service? You have been upgrading a number of your books to keep them current, I would like to get automatic upgrades when they become available - for a reduced price, of course.

Online Books? (5)

drix (4602) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700425)

Why haven't more of your books made it online? A fair amount have, but it's still a fraction of the total offering. Certainly piracy could be an issue, but isn't there still some real profit to be made here? I don't think I know a single geek-sysadmin that wouldn't jump at the chance to, for example, have his company buy him an "O'Reilly Support Contract" for a couple hundred a year, which would enable him to browse and search - with regex's, of course :) - of every book you have online. Let's face it - several hundred dollars is a lot more than many of us spent on ORA books in the last year. And of course this opens up the doorway for tons of new features - books that update themselves through the notes that other readers would be able to leave on their virtual pages, etc.
And how about the ability to create possibly the most comprehensive, one-stop shop for computer info on the planet? I think we'll find soon enough that most of the technically oriented progamming terms in your books will actually have chapters in other books that document them in that easy-to-digest, ORA vernacular that we've all come to know and love. Going for the obvious, imagine if you linked all the regular expression discussions in 'Progamming Perl' to their corresponding lengthier, better documented examples in 'Mastering Regular Expressions.' I can't imagine what a Perl/Regex guru I would've been by now if I had had the latter at my side while reading the former.
Well, anyways, these are just some of the possiblities I see. Keep up the great work, and when you get a chance put a marmoset on one of your books. :)

Re:O'Reilly Software versus Books (1)

FooBarSmith (85970) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700426)

Website came out AFAIK before there was any good webserver software for the Win32 platform (IIS 2.0? Fastrack?). Closed source is the norm on that platform, especially way back then and it was distributed for free / with an O'Reilly book. I remember hacking WinCGI's together way back then before I started using *nix, and before anything like ASP was available. I guess the webserver was so popular and had displayed such a market that they thought it was a no brainer to add some functionality, tag Pro onto the end and make some cash.

Anyway, most of O'Reilly's books aren't open sourced, why should their software be any different?

GNN.. (1)

TurkishGeek (61318) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700427)

Great question..indeed, what happened to GNN? I guess it was there at about the same time as Yahoo if not before?

Why do you laugh at Gandhi? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700428)

Once in a interview you said, about the free software comunity, that they saw Gandhi as their role-model and then laughed. I then ask you: What is your role model?

Re:Textbooks and O'Reilley (1)

Jack_Foy (66846) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700429)

I'm a teaching assistant for a sophomore-level languages and translation course at Georgia Tech. We use Levine, Mason, and Brown's _Lex & Yacc_ in the course. Unfortunately, we've had difficulty getting O'Reilly to support our use of its texts. The publisher offered us two desktop copies of the book for use among 20 TAs and 350 students. It was only through the instructor's persistence that we were able to secure one desktop copy per TA. O'Reilly must adopt a more teacher-friendly system if they want to see wider use of their texts in college curricula.

What are your thoughts on current IP law? (4)

Jelloman (69747) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700430)

As a publisher, copyright law is obviously an important topic for you. Do you see the Net as a threat to copyright? What do you think of Congress' current fascination with mucking with and extending intellectual property laws? Isn't copyright supposed to be a tradeoff, granting protection now in exchange for eventual release into the public domain? Doesn't extending the copyright period by 20 years every 20 years defeat this? And do you have any thoughts you'd like to share on the database "protection" bills pending in Congress, or the UCITA extensions, or software patents? (I'm most interested in your thoughts on the latter.)

OK, I know, that's more than one question.

Rarity of good authors (2)

Chris Siegler (3170) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700431)

Why are there so few good authors of books for programmers? With the recent death of Richard Stevens, in one fell swoop we've lost the author of Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, Unix Network Programming, and the three books of the TCP/IP series. If you program on Unix and write networking code, those books are essential. Yet even before Stevens wrote UNP in 1990, nobody had written anything but man pages, and nobody other than Stevens has written anything since.

Is the dearth of authors because not enough copy gets sold to amply reward all the hard work? Do programmers make lousy authors? Or is it that many people start books but never finish them?

Certainly that last reason applies to software engineers too. It seems to be a suprisingly rare skill to actually get a product finished. But there seems to be such a large pool of people who enjoy writing and programming that I find the scarcity difficult to understand.

Thanks. --Chris.

Re:horse vs penguin (2)

Matt Welsh (11289) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700432)

Actually, we decided to use the "Wild West" theme for the O'Reilly Linux books before the penguin had been adopted as the official Linux mascot. Back then, the only real animal representing Linux was a seagull (anyone remember that?) but the folks at O'Reilly thought the connotation wasn't what we wanted (seagulls tend to be found near large heaps of trash, for example).

I suggested the use of antique motorcycles as the Linux cover design motif (after Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance") but again the possible negative connotations (i.e. Hell's Angels and the rest) outweighed that idea. My coauthor on Running Linux, Lar Kaufman, came up with the idea of the wild west -- seeing as how using Linux was a lot like the exploration of the American frontier. Never mind the negative connotations with that approach!

Matt Welsh

Novell books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700433)

Will O Reilly ever bring out books about novell netware? The O Reilly books about unix are excellent, and O Reilly also covers NT, so I'd really like to see a Netware book from O Reilly.

Re:PHP? (1)

DaMan (14537) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700434)

I would like to second that!!
I have the php manual from the web site but it would help to have some nice books like any of the Perl books to use while I learn it. Also Postgres is in the same boat, I have the manuals from there we site but it would be nice to have more. I would also like to add that when in doubt I buy O'Reilly. I found that all the books I have bought (upwards of 15) have all been well writen and very technical.

Thanks O'Reilly
Joshua Curtis
Lancaster Co. Linux Users Group

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (1)

sonoffreak (60226) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700435)

As much as I hate working with M$ products, I'm not the one who pulls the strings, so I don't always get to pick. That means that I am often forced to use them. I very thankful that O'Reilly makes these books because I don't what I would have done if I had to use a "Learn ASP in 21 Days" or a "ASP for Dummies" type book as my reference. Hopefully in the not too far future these books will not need to be published and the world will be a happy place.

Re:BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700436)

Put an imaginary animal on the cover. A devilish looking penguin with a smirk wearing a halo.

Re: Animals (1)

Vagary (21383) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700437)

To expand on the animals question:

  • How much internal relevance is given to the animals? Is it somebody's job to manage them?
  • Is there a database that could be linked up?
  • I'm sure there are some good ancedotes concerning the animals (like how the pig ended up with Spam and the butterfly with Windows)

The animals seem to be the thing that stands out the most about O'Reilly books, even the most technically illiterate can tell they're cooler than other technical books (and since they're B&W it gives a dignified air).

Re:The post that launched a thousand flames... (1)

Micah (278) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700438)

I'm just *sure* I read last year that ORA was planning a Postgres book, and have been looking forward to it. But it hasn't come!

Why not??? I'll buy it in a heartbeat! It's a very logical program for ORA to support - it's big, complex, and open source. And it has a lot of users. What gives???

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700439)

You know, I going to tell you something ... I had exactly the same feeling when I tried programming under Linux for the first time. Eveything seem to be "wasted time", unfriendly and generally completely lacked any sense. You can't blame the tool for not adhering to your habits.

horse vs penguin (3)

Will the Chill (78436) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700440)

Have you ever felt funny about having a horse as the animal on your linux books, when everyone would probably regard a penguin as a much better choice?

-Will the Chill

Quick turnaround (4)

Max Planck (36538) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700441)

With the technology changing so quickly, it seems it would be difficult to keep up, especially publishing books. Yet, you keep right up. What tricks do you use?

When is the X series gonna have a GTK+/Gnome book? (5)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700442)

Nearly all the X programming series books grace my bookcase at home (including the XView ones ...). But when are there going to be companion volumes on GTK+ and the Gnome libraries? Get David Flanagan et. al. on the case now. Please!

Chris Wareham

O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (5)

TurkishGeek (61318) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700443)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it makes perfect sense to say that it was mainly O'Reilly's focus on Unix and Open Source subjects that helped the company become the popular and respected publisher it is now. O'Reilly's newest catalogs have an increasing number of books featuring Microsoft technologies-and I'm not talking about the "annoyances" series I love most, but books on VB, ASP etc. I, for myself, welcome these additions since market conditions require us to use MS technologies sometimes, although we are true Linux believers at heart. On the other hand, based on my assumption that your "core audience" is mostly Unix/Linux programmer/admins (which might be mistaken, of course); I am curious about the responses that reached you about these latest Microsoft technology-centric O'Reilly titles; and how they are selling. Would you say that O'Reilly plans to become an important publisher of books on MS technologies as well? Finally, thanks for all those great titles you've provided our community. I guess I will stay a loyal O'Reilly customer until the day you run out of weird animals to put on the covers of your books, and start to use pictures of bacteria and virii. (I nominate "Escherischia coli" or the HIV virus for the cover of a possible book about Microsoft SMS)

Thanks Roblimo, (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700444)

Just wanted to thank you for answering the concerns of myself and many other slashdotters by letting everybody know how the questioning is going to take place this time around. Kudos!


Who decides on the woodcuts? (2)

Negator Inverse (44282) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700445)

Is it up to the author, editor, who? And why is the animal choice consistent on some series--Linux always has a horse (I think)--and wildly varied on others--Perl has a camel, ram and I think a panther?

heh... (3)

miahrogers (34176) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700446)

dude i've always wondered what it is with you and animals, please tell.

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (2)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700447)

I'd nominate E.Coli for "MS Exchange Sever." I get the same symptoms after being exposed to both.


Becoming an author (5)

Dominican (67865) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700448)

How does one go about writing for your company?
Is topic selection open or are there a set or topics you would accept?

How often are books revised? Open to the author?

Re:Who decides on the woodcuts? (1)

William Wallace (18863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700449)

Edie Freedman is the one who designs and chooses
the woodcuts. This was answered in the "Ask Tim"
section of the O'Reilly site.

Not sure about the rest of your question, but
I believe the answer is, "You'll have to interview
Edie!" :-)


Why are there so many Unix-using Star Trek fans?
When was the last time Picard said, "Computer, bring

E-books (5)

William Wallace (18863) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700450)

Back in the December of 1998, Linda Walsh answered
my email on the "Ask Tim" section of your website, regarding O'Reilly's support of e-books.

Her answer is here: ml

Basically, she just says that you'd be announcing
your plans "soon."

Nine months later, I don't believe O'Reilly has
made any announcements one way or the other ...
I've been holding off on e-books since then, to
find out what O'Reilly is going to do.

Will you support multiple e-books, or will you
sign an exclusive deal to work with only one
company? If not, which e-book do you personally
think handles O'Reilly material better?


Why are there so many Unix-using Star Trek fans?
When was the last time Picard said, "Computer, bring

Re:horse vs penguin (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700451)

Read the "colophon" in each book. They explain the choice of animals. IIRC Edie Freedman is the one who makes the choices, and she deserves a lot of credit for coming up with wittier selections than most of us would pick.


books (5)

Joheines (34255) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700452)

- How does a real O'Reilly bestseller (like Programming Perl) sell in comparison to some of the lesser known books? Generally, how often does a normal book sell (dimension)?
- Are your books, and computer books in general, that expensive because the impression numbers are low or do you price them that high just because you can?
- What is your opinion about electronic publishing?

writing an O'Reilly book (4)

mathowie (18747) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700453)

I am amazed that the O'Reilly books stay so current with the industry, and each book usually has only one or two authors. If you went with more people per book (like one per chapter or something), do you think you could get books out on new technology faster?

I haven't seen anyone ask the question everyone is dying to know: how do you get an idea green lighted by O'Reilly? [what prompted the question: Right now there are no books on Real's SMIL (their multimedia XML spec), and I've been getting into it for the last couple months.] So if I wanted to be considered for a book on it, should I crank out an outline and a couple rough drafts of chapters, then try to contact someone at O'Reilly?

How on earth did you guys decide to do a Lego Mindstorms book? (I'm looking forward to reading it, but I was surprised you published it)

Re:They *do* publish BSD books (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700454)

Design and Implementation was published by Addison-Wesley.

Anyway, my copy of PRM says 1994. Five years is quite a long time in this industry. I personally would like to see the URM, USD, PRM, PSD, and SMM completely redone and updated for FreeBSD (latest version at publication). Mr. O'Reilly, if you are listening, I will do whatever is necessary to get this :)


O'Reilly book pricing (3)

ezzewezza (84083) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700455)

I know that I can't expect you to reveal the marketing behind the pricing of various books published by O'reilly & Associates, Inc., but, I was wondering what factors were built into the pricing scheme? As a college student/ORA book lover I often find myself unsure whether to buy the seemingly smaller book on topic A or the book on topic B that's 2x as big for only $5 more.

Justin said this.

Book on webmin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700456)

I would really like to see a book about webmin

Re:Becoming an author (3)

ryanr (30917) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700457)

Folks who want to ask questions about how to write for O'Reilly should probably read the excellent resource that they have already provided:


Most of these questions have already been answered. I'd hate to waste a question that will probably have the answer: "read the FAQ"

Textbooks and O'Reilley (5)

Crutcher (24607) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700458)

Not sure how to phrase this, but, well, what is the status of O'Reilley and marketing books to schools and colleges for use as textbooks. Our textbooks suck, and if there textbook versions of ya'lls books it would rock.

Re:books (1)

Joheines (34255) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700459)

Huh? What happened? I *know* my questions had a 5 score, but there is no remark why it has been marked down either..?!

Computer humor books by O'Reilly? (4)

Kit Lo (45824) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700460)

Will O'Reilly and Associates have any plans to publish more computer humor books? I have been struck with the User Friendly Productivity Virus, and I also have read a few humor web pages along the way (mostly I would love to read something in the line of a compilation of the best stuff from the best of the funnies I have bumped into while reading /.

Re:books expensive? (1)

stump (21577) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700461)

Are you kidding me? I'd hardly consider $30-$40 expensive, especially considering the content. Unlike most of the technical books on the market, these are worth their weight in gold.

Re:books expensive? (1)

Joheines (34255) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700462)

I was talking about computer books in General. After all, Goethes "Faust" is a masterpiece, too, but I can get it for $3 in paperback.

Questions? (1)

caferace (442) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700463)


What do you think should be the final outcome of the Microsoft vs. the DOJ trial?

If you could publish a book that had nothing to do with technology, what would be the subject matter?

What is your favorite (and most frequently used) OS?

Questions For Tim (1)

technotron (80978) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700464)

What is the deal with the pictures of animals, which are on the cover of most(notable exceptions include the SATAN book, Firewalls, and Practical Unix Security, none of which have animals) of your books. I think they are pretty damn cool, but is there a purpose?

Re:CVS (1)

dair (210) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700465)

>is there anything planned in this direction? Possibly too close to the one about RCS/SCCS. -dair __________________________________________________ _________ (Work) [] [mailto] (!Work) [] [mailto] []

Re:GNN.. (1)

caferace (442) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700466)

AOL bought it, and killed it.

I have a GNN t-shirt that I scored when GNN helped sponsor the original "First Night in Cyberspace" and I helped out showing people the Web in San Francisco.

Re:PHP? (here's why not) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700467)

At the Linux Expo in Raleigh, I offered a completed (typeset, professionally edited, professionally illustrated) book on PHP and PostgreSQL to Tim O'Reilly. The book included about a dozen applications explained in full detail, and a small introduction to SQL. I had about 1,400 pages of material then. His comment was, "I don't think that would sell. Do you have a Palm Pilot?" I even offered the book as a starting point for his company to use with another author. The word "PostgreSQL" seems to be what really turned him off. When I said that, his expression went from one of interest to one of "how do I get out of here." Maybe, he has something against software developed at UCB?

I thought it was a good book. I consult it atleast 5 times per day myself, and the three guys I had review it said they do the same. Even the two copy editors I paid to look over it, said the grammer wasn't too bad. Oh well, I wasted 9 months of my life on that?

Even with the above rant, I still think O'Reilly is the best publisher of computer books, and I buy atleast one each time I walk in a bookstore.

I have a set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700468)

I have a full set of these I don't use anymore, which are in perfect condition and I'm willing to part with them for the right price. Email if interested.

Re:O'Reilly books on Microsoft subjects.. (1)

mvw (2916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700469)

Fun aside, VC++ has some er.. strange points, like two versions of the C++ standard lib, pre-ISO C++ and ISO C++ (Dinkum).

What bit me was, that the _declspec attributes vanished, when linking several libs to a big lib, so I had to link the big lib from the object files (that constitute the smaller libs) directly.


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Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700471)



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Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700473)



Re:Computer humor books by O'Reilly? (1)

Minupla (62455) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700474)

There is a planned UserFriendly [] book to be published by ORA in Oct of 99, and Illiad's been hinting that it won't be the end of his publishing career.

Profiting from Free Software (4)

Evan Vetere (9154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700475)

You've turned a nice profit selling books on free software. As I see it, this is much akin to hardware companies such as AMD, who sell their processors largely to Linux geeks, and RedHat, for obvious reasons. What other profitable markets or 'support industries' do you see emerging from the free software arena?

e-publishing (5)

t-money (32075) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700476) has recently announced that it will offer an electronic publishing service, E-matter [] . What do you think about offering documents for download for a fee? Is this something that O'Reilly might be undertaking in the future?

CVS (1)

mvw (2916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700477)

I sent a proposal for a book on CVS and related tools to ORA Germany (but got no feedback yet) - is there anything planned in this direction?

Re:O'Reilly book pricing (1)

Joheines (34255) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700478)

I don't feel like book price is always justified by low impression numbers. For example, the "JavaScript bible", which status is comparable to "Programming Perl" in the JavaScript area, costs $ 56, despite it obviously selling pretty good.

The post that launched a thousand flames... (5)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700479)

Not to start a free SQL server war here, but I notice there is a (quite good) book on mSql and MySql, but nothing for PostgreSQL. Are there any plans to cover it in the near future?

BSD (5)

howardjp (5458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700480)

Mr. O'Reilly:

One of the biggest compaints aong critics of the BSD operating systems is the lack of available books. Since O'Reilly is the leader in Open Source documentation, you are well positioned to enter the BSD market. With that in mind, why hasn't O'Reilly published any BSD books in recent memory?

Thank you, Jamie

On the Open Source Conference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700481)

How do you feel the O'Reilly Open Source Conference went? I've heard people who attended refer to it as the Perl+ Conference--meaning that the conference was not promoted well for the other venues, like Linux, Python, Tcl, etc. Since the conference was Open Source, I was surprised not to find any conference presentations available for free on the web. (Even the JavaOne Conference which I attend made these presentations available to everyone for free on the web.) When I contacted O'Reilly about this, they refered me to a link to buy audio cassettes of the presentations. Not exactly what I was expecting from Open Source. This same lack of freely available presentations was also the case with the LinuxWorld Conference.

Re:horse vs penguin (1)

Joheines (34255) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700482)

Additionally, I don't think putting a penguin on the cover of a Linux book could be called very original.

Re:books expensive? (1)

stump (21577) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700483)

Good example, but Faust doesn't have to eat or make mortgage payments. I don't want this to get too off-topic, but these guys need to make a living.

What else should be Open Source? (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700484)

Do you see the Open Source model being adopted by other industries?

For example, the music industry. I can see new musicians making lyrics, sheet music, and MP3s freely available to individuals while charging those that would profit from their works.(such as CDs, radio stations, concerts)

PHP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700485)

what about a book on PHP? and postgresql too....

The Pulpit and the Marketplace (4)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700486)

In an article explaining the differences of opinion between yourself and RMS, you once asserted that his approach was "religious" but yours was "scientific", and added that you felt free software/open source should be tested not at the pulpit but in the marketplace.

Now, where commercial interests and ethical demands coincide, that's great. Where they differ, RMS believes that ethics takes precedence; you seem to be asserting that being "scientific" means prioritizing making money over any ethical concern.

Since the interests of ethics and of commerce do sometimes differ, don't you think it's good that we have people like RMS to talk about the former? And weren't you unfair on him in labelling this behaviour "unscientific"?

Why? (1)

DirkGently (32794) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700487)

I dunno. I just coincidentally downloaded Webmin, and except for getting the SSL to work out of the box with my stock Perl, it was god-awfull easy. Thier module system may be a bit more in depth, but its kind of a fringe app. Wouldn't seel much, I'd venture.

An After Y2K book, novel, and/or movie please (2)

Matter Eating Lad (66251) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700488)

Ditto to that... and may I be the first to suggest an After Y2K [] book (or mini-series would be fine too). Nitrozac has burst on the scene as one of the funniest, most creative, and hottest talents in years! Hmmm., maybe I can raise enough capital... ;-)

Free software needs free documentation? (4)

thal (33211) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700489)

The GNU project believes that the free software it releases needs free documentation to be really free for all to use. O'Reilly seems to primarily profit from selling books for free software. Since it seems that in general O'Reilly books are slanted toward the free software movement, do you have any concrete reasons for disagreeing with the GNU project on this point, aside from the obvious reason that this is how you make money? Are you planning to release any future O'Reilly titles online for free?

From the OT ask Roblimo department... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700490)

Roblimo, when will the Nitrozac interview grace Slashdot's pages? We geeks are dieing out here!!!!!

Embedded Programmming? (1)

odd_parity (30158) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700491)

Do you have plans to publish anymore books on embedded programming and/or writing device drivers? Michael Barr's Programming Embedded Systems [] is a good introduction to a topic covered by very few good books.


Open Source Project Infrastructure in a Nutshell.. (3)

mvw (2916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700492)

Possibly too close to the one about RCS/SCCS.

This would be a shame. Can't believe that.

Ever considered erecting an open source project?

Next to a server with 24/7 conection to the Internet there is a certain set of infrastructure software you simply have to have:

  1. The Apache web server
  2. a CVS server for access to the repositories of the project source and the sources of the web site (very useful)
  3. Majordomo mailing lists
  4. ssh / scp for secure telnet, ftp and CVS access
  5. Gnats or Bugzilla bug tracking systems
  6. The GIMP for some nice site graphics
  7. For documentation the docbook suite and related tools

I wonder why nobody wrote such a Infrastructure in a Nutshell yet (gimme a mail, Tim :-)

On the other hand I am not surprised not to see a Kernel Hacking in a Nutshell yet.. that stuff is too much in flow for Linux as well as for FreeBSD.

Books not about programming? (1)

TheGeek (65841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700493)

Does/Will O'Reilly accept books from authors that are not specifically programming/Open Source books?

TheGeek []

GTK+ book. (1)

thal (33211) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700494)

While it's not an O'Reilly book, I found a pretty good book on GTK+ published by New Riders called Developing Linux Applications with GTK+ and GDK written by Eric Harlow. I read it without having written a GUI program before and I understood it well. It lacks detailed explanations of every widget, but the online documentation takes care of that for me. Here's a link [] to it on

Re:Freely redistributable books -- Linux NAG (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700495)

He already answered that question satisfactorily: it didn't sell enough copies to motivate the authors to write a new edition.

While he did indeed say that, it doesn't answer the question I originally asked. I want to know the figures. If I release a book, I want to know all the options before deciding whether or not to make the book freely available.

SGood Question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700500)

We need a great O'Reilly book on GTK+. Please!

How about contributing editing advice? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700501)

IMHO one of the strength of your company is the care that you put in reviewing book content.

Would you consider reviewing parts of the LDP project and providing good editing advice to the authors of some selected documents of this project?

Do you think that your company could review regularly (let's say xxx pages worth of technical documentation per year) as kind of payback to the community?

You'd be surprised. (1)

Q*bert (2134) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700502)

A lot of people use Lego Mindstorms for AI research. It's lame, but it's true.

Beer recipe: free! #Source
Cold pints: $2 #Product

Re:BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1700503)

I want to echo support for this request. A series of books on the various free BSD operating systems would be very welcome. Please do this.

Freely redistributable books -- Linux NAG (5)

Tet (2721) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700504)

You've said that the Linux Network Administrator's Guide sold significantly less than would normally be expected as a result of the text of the book being freely available on the net. By what sort of margin? How many copies did it sell, and how many would you have expected to sell under normal circumstances? Would you release another book in a similar manner if the author accepts that they'll make less money from it? Did the book actually make a loss, or just not make as much profit as expected?

Opening up Previous Editions (5)

chromatic (9471) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700505)

Would you ever consider making previous editions of certain books free for download when supplanted by newer editions?

For example, when Larry Wall finally gets around to writing the 3rd edition of the Camel (probably about the same time as Perl 6), would you consider making the second edition available in electronic format?

I realize this has the possibility of forking documentation, but it's hard to find anyone more qualified than Larry, Randal, and Tom, for example. It would only work for certain books.

QDMerge [] 0.21!

They *do* publish BSD books (3)

Tet (2721) | more than 15 years ago | (#1700506)

why hasn't O'Reilly published any BSD books in recent memory?

Maybe I just have a better memory than you :-) They published the complete 4.4BSD docs, although many of them are now out of print, and I can't find mention of them on the O'Reilly web site.

My girlfriend's boss has the complete set (in part because the company uses BSD/OS extensively). That said, O'Reilly could do with some more recent BSD docs, covering {Free,Net,Open}BSD.

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