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Introduction


This book has the unfortunate burden of serving a diverse set of audiences. We realize that this book might appeal to both experienced Java programmers who are new to Linux, and to experienced Linux programmers who are new to Java, with all possible shadings in between.

In addition to balancing these two poles, we are also trying to strike a bal- ance between the size of the book and the range of our topic. Fortunately, there is today quite a range of both book and Web publishing on both Java and Linux, so we are able to do our best within the limits of a book a normal person may lift, and we can make recourse to a number of outside references you might wish to use to supplement our efforts.


WHO SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK


If you are an experienced Java programmer, but quite new to Linux, and you have been looking for information on the tools available to develop and deploy Java applications on Linux systems, this book will provide a lot of useful information.


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If you are an experienced Linux user or developer, and you are interested in using the Java language on that platform, this book will guide you through some advanced Java development topics and will present, we hope, some novel uses for familiar Linux and GNU tools.

If you are a rank beginner to either Linux or Java, we still think this book has value, but we would recommend that you use it in conjunction with more introductory books. For a basic introduction to Java and object-oriented pro- gramming, we recommend Bruce Eckel’s excellent book, Thinking in Java (ISBN 0-13-100287-2). For an introduction to Linux and its tools, we can recommend The Linux Book by David Elboth (ISBN 0-13-032765-4)1 as an all-around title. We also list several other books in sections titled Resources throughout this book. Many books we recommend are not actually Linux- specific. Since Linux duplicates (in most respects) a UNIX platform, we do occasionally recommend books that are general to all *nix systems.

If you are a developer, contractor, or MIS development manager with more projects than budget, our book will introduce you to many solid tools that are free of license fees for the development and deployment of production Java applications. We are all being asked to do more with less all the time. In many (but certainly not all) cases, Free and Open Source software is an excellent way to do that.


WHO SHOULD NOT BUY THIS BOOK


Those looking for complete documentation on Java APIs and Linux-based Java application servers will be disappointed. Complete reference material on Free Software and Open Source Software may be found in book form, but it is most certainly out-of-date. And while this is an open-content book, we know full well that we will only be updating it as our “day jobs” permit. In other words, those seeking complete and current reference material should go to the Web.

Those who have a multimillion-dollar budget for applications development will probably be well served by commercial application server products. While we very much believe that Linux and Java on Linux are fully capable of support- ing production environments, we recognize that products such as BEAWeblogic and IBM’s WebSphere have large support organizations behind them, and


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1. Note that we do tend to recommend titles from Pearson Education (our publishers), but that we by no means confine ourselves to that publisher.


(at least for now) a larger base of developers and contracting organizations with staff (variably) experienced in writing and supporting applications in these en- vironments. Please note that you can run these products on Linux systems, and that they are part of the Linux-Java world. Our book does not cover them, however, both because they are well-covered elsewhere, and because we have chosen to emphasize the Free and Open Source tools merely to keep the book small enough to lift, while still covering those tools most in need of well-written supporting documentation.


HOW TO USE THIS BOOK


There are many approaches to a book. Some people like to start with the last chapter to see how it all turns out in the end; others like to start at the front and master each topic before moving on; some read through quickly, then reread for detail; still others prefer to skip around, “cherry picking” topics as whim and fancy strike. We hope this book will work for you, whatever your style.

Each chapter is not really free-standing, nor is it intricately tied to the previous chapters. If we were writing in depth on a single topic we might be able to build chapter by chapter. Instead, we’ve tackled an immense amount of information in hopes of condensing it down to give a good overview, to give you a glimpse of the possibilities, and to whet your appetite for more. Some chapters will be strongly related to previous chapters; others you may be able to read without having read any of the preceding chapters—it will depend on the topic.


 


Many Paths