Best essays on software

Are you interested in reading quality essays on subjects related to software development? If so, then treat yourself to Neil Kandalgaonkar’s Links to essays in the book Best Software Writing I, or buy the hardcopy.

In the interest of letting people get to the links quickly, I’m copying-and-pasting Neil Kandalgaonkar’s links:

Joel Spolsky – Introduction

Refactoring Rules

Tried-and-true refactoring rules:

  1. Find the smallest change that could possibly work, and check it in. “If I make this change, it will change nothing else.”
  2. Revert early, and revert often. If you lose a half-day of work because the refactoring change is too large, that’s okay. Better to start over than to cost the rest of the team precious time struggling with a broken build.
  3. Do not write new code while refactoring.
  4. Always use cut-and-paste, never copy-and-paste.
  5. Just because the unit tests pass, doesn’t mean that the product still works after your refactor. You may need to add new unit tests before you refactor. And you may need to do some acceptance-testing for things that aren’t unit-testable.

General Advice:

  1. Don’t checkin changes to the version control system just before you go home. Wait for the next day.

Types of Refactoring:

  1. Refer to Martin Fowler’s “Refactoring” book
  2. Refer to Fowler’s website: and his catalog of refactorings

Advantages of Fedora Core 5 over FC3/FC4

Advantages of Fedora Core 5 over FC3/FC4:

  • Faster boot times
  • Faster Gnome desktop login
  • Faster responsiveness in the Gnome user interface (snappier application menu, etc.)
  • Suspend to disk and suspend to RAM
  • New desktop applications: Beagle desktop search tool, F-spot photo manager, Tomboy note taking application.
  • Firefox: Opening a new window is MUCH faster than with FC4.
  • Most stable installer to date, in my opinion.
  • New HAL integration (hardware abstraction layer) manages USB flash drives, and as a result, they mount on the user’s desktop more quickly than in the past.
  • SELinux targetted policies are much more comprehensive
  • Better wireless NIC support.
  • Xen virtulization.

I find it easier to upgrade rather than reinstall. The upgrade process did not install the new applications that a fresh install would have provided. Therefore, I did a fresh install of FC5 on one machine, and grabbed the package list (FC5 Packages). Then, I upgraded another machine, grabbed the package list ("rpm -qa | sort > upgradepackages.txt“). I generated a ‘diff’ of the two files. Here are the main things I came up with when going from FC4 to FC5:

Missing desktop packages:

  • beagle
  • f-spot
  • frysk
  • tomboy
  • gnome-backgrounds
  • gnome-power-manager
  • gnome-screensaver
  • gnome-user-share
  • nautilus-sendto
  • hal-gnome

Missing non-desktop packages:

  • xorg-x11-fonts-truetype
  • smartmontools
  • systemtap
  • hplip
  • longrun
  • irqbalance
  • glx-utils
  • gmime
  • gmime-sharp
  • dbus-sharp
  • dcraw
  • evolution-sharp

It’s always a good idea to read the release notes:
Install extra software using yum, or using the graphical application ‘pirut’, or view ‘extra’ packages with your browser:
Useful packages (from extras repository):

yum install yum-utils gtweakui themes-backgrounds-gnome nautilus-open-terminal nautilus-image-converter nautilus-actions