Distributed Systems for practitioners
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Distributed Systems for practitioners

About the Book

Distributed systems are everywhere nowadays, from the chat applications we use to communicate with our friends to the online stores we use for our shopping. However, distributed systems are by nature complicated. In order to design and build a distributed system that will work properly, one has to understand a lot of different concepts and nuances and the literature of distributed systems can be quite big and chaotic at times.

This book makes an effort to collate the basic principles, algorithms and protocols in the field of distributed systems. It introduces the basic problems that are inherent in distributed systems, the main approaches to tackle them and any associated complications one needs to keep in mind. You will have the chance to get an overview of the seminal papers in the field, while also understanding how the associated algorithms and protocols can be used in real life. As implied by the title, the goal of this book is to maintain a practical perspective, by explaining algorithms in the simplest terms possible and demonstrating how implementations of them can be used in real systems.

Who is this book for

This book is aimed at software engineers that have some experience in building software systems and have no or some experience in distributed systems. It assumes no knowledge around concepts and algorithms for distributed systems. This book attempts to gradually introduce the terms and explain the basic algorithms in the simplest way possible, providing many diagrams and examples. As a result, this book can also be useful to people that don't develop software, but want to get an introduction to the field of distributed systems.

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  • Categories

    • Computer Science
    • Software Architecture
    • Distributed Systems
    • Cloud Computing
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About the Author

Dimos Raptis
Dimos Raptis

Dimos is a software engineer who has been designing, building and operating software systems over the last decade. He holds an MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and an MSc in Software Engineering from Imperial College London. His endless curiosity usually leads him down big rabbit holes and when he's lucky, he re-emerges with a big bucket of knowledge. When he finds some time, he enjoys sharing this knowledge with others either through his blog or by writing books. He's the author of the books Distributed Systems for Practitioners and Computer Science for kids.


The Book

With this package you get a copy of the book, including any of its future updates.

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  • English

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The Book: 5 copies bundle

With this package you get 5 copies of the book, including any of its future updates.

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  • English

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The book: 10 copies bundle

With this package you get 10 copies of the book, including any of its future updates.

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Reader Testimonials

Kumar Uttpal
Kumar Uttpal

SDE 2 at Amazon

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I liked the straight-to-the-point attitude of writing.

Kaviraj Kanagaraj
Kaviraj Kanagaraj

Software Engineer at HousingAnywhere

It's a really great book given its size. Great read for knowing key topics and concepts of distributed systems. The new section on Case Studies is top notch, I really wanted something like this and I am happy to see this.

Table of Contents


What is a distributed system and why we need it

The fallacies of distributed computing

Why distributed systems are hard

Correctness in distributed systems

System models

The tale of exactly-once semantics

Failure in the world of distributed systems

Stateful and Stateless systems

Basic concepts and theorems


Algorithms for horizontal partitioning


Single-master replication

Multi-master replication

Quorums in distributed systems

Safety guarantees in distributed systems

ACID transactions

The CAP Theorem

Consistency models

Isolation Levels

Consistency and Isolation - Differences and Similarities

Why all the formalities

Distributed Transactions

What is a distributed transaction

Achieving Isolation

2-phase locking (2PL)

Optimistic concurrency control (OCC)

Multi-version concurrency control (MVCC)

Achieving atomicity

2-phase commit (2PC)

3-phase commit (3PC)

A quorum-based commit protocol

How it all fits together

Long-lived transactions & Sagas


Defining consensus

Some use-cases of consensus

FLP impossibility

The Paxos algorithm

Intricacies of Paxos

Paxos in real-life

Replicated state machine via consensus

Distributed transactions via consensus


Standing on the shoulders of giants


What is different in a distributed system

A practical perspective

A theoretical perspective

Logical clocks


Total and partial ordering

The concept of causality

Lamport clocks

Vector clocks

Version vectors & Dotted version vectors

Distributed snapshots

Physical & Logical time: closing thoughts


The physical layer

The link layer

The network layer

The transport layer

The application layer

Taking a step back





A cryptography primer

Example protocols

Case studies

Distributed file systems (HDFS/GFS)

Distributed coordination service (Zookeeper/Chubby/etcd)

Distributed datastores





Distributed messaging system (Kafka)

Distributed cluster management (Kubernetes)

Distributed ledger (Corda)

Distributed data processing systems


Apache Spark

Apache Flink

Practices & Patterns

Communication Patterns

Coordination Patterns

Data synchronisation

Shared-nothing architectures

Distributed locking

Compatibility patterns

Dealing with failure

Distributed tracing

Causes Supported

Code Club


A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week. Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on. We’d like to put a Code Club in every single primary school in the country. There are over 21,000 primary schools in the UK, it’s a big task but we think we can do it!

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