Another Newbie Question: C or C++

Daniela dgw at
Tue Nov 11 08:13:22 PST 2003

On Tuesday 11 November 2003 13:54, Louis LeBlanc wrote:
> On 11/10/03 07:12 PM, Scott W sat at the `puter and typed:
> > Alex Kelly wrote:
> > >I need to buy a book on C or C++ to help me in FreeBSD. Which would be
> > > better to buy?
> > >
> > >I first thought a book on C would be best, because the OS is written in
> > > C. But, now I'm not sure because I read that gcc can compile C++ too
> > > (so, I'm assuming C++ must get used too).
> > >
> > >Does it even matter?
> > >
> > >Suggestions?
> > >_______________________________________________
> > >freebsd-questions at mailing list
> > >
> > >To unsubscribe, send any mail to
> > > "freebsd-questions-unsubscribe at"
> >
> > It depends on your goals.  I used to teach both C and C++, and now years
> > later, am currently hard pressed to find a non-Microsoft C/C++
> > development position.  If for personal knowledge, definitely C followed
> > by C++.  If professional, or want to be....hmm.  In that case, I'd say
> > it still depends more on your goals- if you're going to try to stay in
> > *nix development, you've GOT to know C.  If you don't care, or God help
> > you, want a job doing Windows development, start with C++, and  ignore
> > all of the standard data types because MS will make their own for you ;-)
> >
> > Starting with C has an advantage in that you tend to have to do 'most of
> > the work yourself' for a lot of things, which tends to help you
> > understand more about how things work.  IMHO, that also tends to make
> > better programmers down the line, regardless of the language they use.
> > C++ is similar, but STL will make life easier when it comes to data
> > structures.  Java I don't want to talk about ;-)
> >
> > A significant amount of system level programming(think system processes
> > and services/daemons) are written in C.  A fair number of applications
> > are, but the majority of GNOME/KDE apps, if that's a consideration, are
> > done in C++.  A growing number of applications are also being done in
> > Java, but it's not the best language to start with for understanding
> > much of anything (you can write a half dozen lines of Java to replace
> > perhaps 100+ in C/C++ from scratch in some cases).  It isn't a bad
> > language to learn (professional-wise as well, *groan*) after learning C
> > or C++.
> >
> > Books and references-
> > C- Already mentioned, K&R 'The C Programming Language' is 'the bible.'
> > This is also generally a lousy book to start with if you aren't
> > programming already, but an invaluable reference.  Pick up another book,
> > wish I knew a good starter one, but it's been a while...can try Deitel
> > and Deitel or (nobody laugh, have used it for Intro before..) the 21
> > days SAMs series for a 'jump-start,' and THEN the Deitel/Deitel and K&R.
> >
> > W. Richard Stevens "Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment"- MUST
> > HAVE.  I may be misquoting the name, but a search on ,
> > (or search on amazon then BUY somewhere else!) will quickly turn
> > it up.  K&R is to the C language, Stevens is to Unix programming...
> >
> > google search for 'Secure Unix Programming'- there's a FAQ or two out
> > there that are pretty good once you're past 'the basics.'
> >
> > C++
> > Latest edition of Deitel/Deitel.  Funny, I used to really dislike their
> > books, but they DO provide pretty decent overall coverage.  May or may
> > not be 'too deep' at first, if so, preface with SAMs or equivalent.
> >
> > Stroustrup- 'The C++ Programming Language".  Stroustrup write C++ but is
> > pretty dry.  Good reference and for advanced topics.
> > Stroustrup- Annoted Reference Manual AKA 'the ARM'- what K&R is to C.
> > *The C++ Standard Library : A Tutorial and Reference- recommended pretty
> > highly, but don't currently have.  search on favorite bookstore will
> > turn it up.
> >
> > *Java (before ya ask ;-)  There are a LOT of bad books on Java it
> > seems.  Deitel and Deitel again is worth buying as a first book (after C
> > and/or C++), then decide what you want to DO with Java, as there are a
> > number of directions- JDBC, Beans, JSP, etc etc etc..
> >
> > As always, languages and books can be a moving target- when possible,
> > pick up the latest edition covering the current ANSI standard for C/C++,
> > and make sure anything you buy for Java covers 'Java 2,' preferably JDK
> > 1.4, but at least 1.3 or you'll be throwing out work by the time you
> > work on a current project..
> >
> > Misc others-
> > POSIX Programming, O'Reilly press.  Good coverage of POSIX (Unix for
> > simplicity's sake but not really) required system calls.
> >
> > Network Programming- Again,m by Stevens.
> >
> > FAQs for whatever you wind up taking an interest in.  I don't _like_ GUI
> > development, but KDE and GNOME have a fair number of tutorials for QT
> > and GTK respectively...
> Wow, that's a fairly complete list.  Agree completely on the C/C++
> application/philosophical differences.  The book list missed one very
> useful C++ book by Josutis, "The C++ Standard" I think.  Don't have it
> handy.
> You know, everyone's been telling me to give up C and just start
> working with C++.  I've been resisting pretty strongly, and now I
> realize why.  C is a geeks language.  It gives you more control than
> C++.  I like C for one primary reason:  I like to be in control.  I
> know that many of the C++ constructs, member functions, etc. are slow
> in comparison to home grown vanilla construct in C that only do what
> they are needed for.  The standard template classes use table lookups
> just to figure out what its contents look like.  If you create the
> construct from scratch, it knows whether it's holding an int, char*,
> or struct.
> And the arguments about faster machines meaning that level of
> efficiency is unimportant will fall on deaf ears here.  Efficiency
> should always be in the top 3 list (correctness, stability, and
> efficiency are the trinity of the true programmer).
> I'm gonna stop here because this is going to turn into a holy war
> shortly, but take Scott's description of the applications,
> availability, and books to heart.  The only thing I can really add
> (for all my babbling here) is the Josutis book for C++.

I can recommend "Who's afraid of C++?" by Steve Heller. It's good as the very 
first programming book to read, very easy to understand.


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