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Re: [OT] OpenSource Documentation Fund

John wrote:

> I am a small publisher. I have considered publishing books on some aspect
> or another of Linux, in particular some of the LDP documents. So far I have
> done nothing because I really don't know what would be good to do. I have
> no problem with paying the authors and the LDP a share of the profits, if I
> found a project that I think would be worthwhile doing.
> I do think there is a market for a paper copy of certain documents. I took
> my old computer (which used to run NT), put a new, cheap, hard drive in it
> and installed Corel Linux just to see what all the Linux hoopla was about.
> I found the documentation that came with it pretty useless. Were it not for

I hope you contacted the authors; getting feedback is hard and getting
quality feedback is extremely seldom in my experience.

> newsgroups and friends helping me out, I would never have gotten the
> network or the modem working. At that, I bought the Idiot's Guide, but it
> didn't help a lot either.

IMO, once you load up Linux you can never be an idiot. 8-)

> There seem to be a ton of Linux books at the bookstores, but mostly dealing
> with things that I either had no interest in (e.g., programming) or were
> about specific distributions that didn't match anything I was finding on my
> screen.
> One thing that seems to be completely lacking, both in the LDP and
> currently published books, is a troubleshooting guide. For example, what if

You mean something like this?

> someone went through the newsgroups and compiled the most commonly asked
> questions ("The ppp daemon died unexpectedly -- what does that mean?") --
> and then did a step-by-step checklist for the user to go through. I sure
> wish I had been able to get my hands on something like that. Would have
> saved me a lot of frustration and a lot of my friends' time and effort.

This will be so big, so version dependent and so hard to navigate
you will need a database driven application. Also this is the reason
why commercial entities such as QuestionExchange can make a living
in direct competition to the newsgroups.

Yet all is not lost, there are two relevant documents here:

There is also a LInux Knowledge Base project:

> The problem I found was that I would post a question in a newsgroup and
> people would respond by posting an URL to a document in the LDP. I would
> dutifully go to the URL, but the text was incomprehensible to me.
> Everything was written in Geekspeak. The authors assumed too much knowledge
> on the part of the reader, thus failing to define terms before using them.

It is hard to pitch a document at the right level; too low and it
gets patronizing. Would a LDP-wide acronym list and definition list
help this situation? There is a big alphabet soup out there.
Feedback always helps and I also added a reading plan on request
from a reader concerned with the pitching:

> Anyway, enough ranting by someone who doesn't know much about what he is
> talking about. I just wanted to say that, if there is something that could
> be published in short runs, I'm always interested. I'm a small publisher --
> I can produce about 50 copies a day max, so a national best-seller is not
> of interest to me. My specialty is short runs. My output is high-speed
> laser direct from the computer, so I can make instant editorial changes as
> the material gets out of date. I can be profitable on runs of 200 copies at
> a time, yet my product looks as professional as anything in a bookstore.

I have no idea how quickly these books sell, last major print I heard
about was by Redhat, over 2 years ago. In the past the LDP was informed
in advance of printing deadline so last minute updates could be
rushed in.

> Another of my specialties is writing. I cannot possibly qualify to do any
> of the documents for the LDP, as I know nothing to speak of about Linux.
> But I have a skill that I find is very lacking -- the ability to explain.
> Writing is my thing. I have spent half my life as a teacher and textbook
> writer. I can translate Geekspeak into English. Perhaps a publishing
> project that would use these abilities would be of interest. And, of
> course, to me it is a commercial venture, with enough potential profit to
> compensate me, the LDP and the authors.

An acronym list might be a project in itself, possibly in
conjunction with the Hackers Dictionary (aka Jargon file):
You will also find other dictionary projects in ESR's pages.


> OK, I've wasted enough of everyone's time, so I should shut up now I guess.
> :)

I hope you could mail out the feedbacks. And I feel there is plenty
of opportunities for a small scale enterprise to work in conjunction
with the LDP.

   Stein Gjoen

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