Get Your Hands Dirty!

by , originally published in O'Reilly's Winter 2005 Catalog
January 2005

The urge to hack—to tweak, extend, customize, remix—seems to be a fundamental human impulse. From the Linux geeks who wrote code for fun (and hacked the power structure of the computing world almost by accident), to Dangermouse, the DJ who created the Grey Album by remixing the vocals from the Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album, or the hundreds of activists who remixed news footage into political mashups, to the thousands of weekend tinkerers who are improving their PCs, toasters, and TiVos, hackers of all stripes refuse to just take what they’re given. They’re driven to remake it, and getting there is more than half the fun.

In this catalog, you’ll find a host of new books that celebrate the hacker impulse:

For the ultimate true-life hacker tale, read Andy Hertzfeld’s Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made. Andy, a core developer of the Macintosh system software, shares a vivid firsthand account of how a small team of bright, creative developers gave their all to build a computer that would change the world.

Linux continues to be a hacker’s playground, even as it gains users and respect in the corporate world. We’ve got new books that span the Linux universe, from High Performance Linux Clusters with OSCAR, Rocks, OpenMosix, and MPI, to third editions of our classic Linux Network Administrator’s Guide and Linux Device Drivers.

Our hit Hacks series has several new titles for those who want to alter their physical environments: Home Hacking Projects for Geeks, Home Theater Hacks, Gaming Hacks, and PC Hacks join favorites Building the Perfect PC and Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks. And if you’re up for some serious rewiring, try Mind Hacks.

For a lighter take on the subject (you might call it lifestyle hacking) we offer our new Fan Books for iPod, Xbox, PowerBook, and iBook. These eye-catching little books—a compact 6" square—will delight anyone who’s passionate about his or her favorite gadget.

But that’s not all! “Remix” is the theme for this year’s ETech (officially the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference). We’ll look at how the remix spirit is playing out in innovative developments in hardware, mobile devices, web services, social software, and grid computing. For an infusion of the concepts, technologies, and projects hovering just below the mainstream radar, join us at ETech, March 14–17 in San Diego.

And if your idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon revolves around soldering irons, screwdrivers, and motion sensors, be sure to check out MAKE. Our new magazine, due to be launched in Feburary, is packed with detailed information on do-it-yourself projects from kite aerial photography to homemade steadycams.

However the urge to hack strikes you, I hope you give in to it. Doing it yourself brings great satisfaction. Here at O’Reilly, we get our satisfaction from bringing you the information you need to hack, remix, and master technology at home and at work. Go on, get your hands dirty!

Tim O'Reilly