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Re: Debian User Manual

robert havoc pennington <rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu> writes:

> On Tue, 12 May 1998, Oliver Elphick wrote:
> > What's happening with the manuals?
> > 
> > I contributed a section on basic commands some months back and Havoc
> > Pennington did a section on the file system.  But as far as I can tell,
> > these haven't actually been put up on the web site, and we still have
> > plaintive messages from new users to debian-user saying (rightly) that 
> > there's no documentation.
> > 
> > Have other sections been written or should I start to look at any/all 
> > of the rest?
> > 
> > Please put up what has already been written; if it's rubbish we can 
> > always replace it, but no-one has a chance to judge, if it's not
> > published.
> > 
> It's all on my web page, http://pobox.com/~hp. It is also in CVS at
> happy.digitaldune.net because no one with the proper access ever put it on
> a Debian machine; it's not on the Debian Doc Project web site for much the
> same reason. I've posted my URL here twice in the past to try to
> compensate. The document has my files stuff, I believe it still has your
> basic commands stuff, it has lots of chunks from the LDP User's Manual,
> and it has a few new sections I wrote. 
> Currently there are 4 or 5 people with CVS access, but last I checked
> nothing had been written in about a month. There is quite a lot done,
> however, so certainly if someone wants to write they should start from
> what we have.
> The Tutorial is also limited in scope, because supposedly a Reference
> Manual and Install Guide were going to be written. There is an install.txt
> document, but that's not the Install Guide that was proposed (the proposal
> was going to cover configuring all the major packages). There's no sign of
> a Reference Manual to my knowledge. If these are being written (and I
> don't think they are, yet), they need to be in the same CVS with the
> tutorial to avoid duplicate effort, or at least mailing list traffic needs
> to go up to keep in sync.
> IMO this should all be one big document, it should go in Debian CVS, and
> all the different authors should colloborate on it. Then it might get
> done.  The grandiose schemes with a zillion different manuals probably
> won't. We might make a big push for volunteers when Debian 2.0 is finally
> released. 

I completely agree with the CVS thing and authors collaborating.
However, I don't think it's a good idea to work on one big document
which covers all aspects of using Debian.  We had a similar discussion
last fall (see archive) and I still think the then proposed division
into an Installation Manual, Tutorial, and Reference Guide is a good
one.  Please the archive for all the details, but the main reason for
this was trying to accomodate different audiences (sysadmins, newbies,
(more) experienced users, etc.).  In this setting the current setup
makes sense. 

However, seeing the DDH made me rethink the Reference Guide.  The DDH
can be viewed as a big Super Reference Guide.  We only need to document
the Debian specific way of things.  The question is then: how?  In one
big document, scattered throughout the DDH, something in between?  We
can use the same approach for the planned SysAdmin and NetAdminmanuals.

> I've been working on GNOME instead in my limited time, basically because
> it's a more fun way to help novice users, largely because there's an
> active community working on it. However, if a group of people want to
> actually do anything with the tutorial then I'd be willing to go back to
> it. 
> Two other ideas: 1) I think it should be packaged, made available for
> download, and recommended on debian-user; no better way to raise its
> profile and get it written than to publicize it and have people actually
> using what we have so far and providing feedback. 2) The latest GNU
> Bulletin says someone else is working on a document like this; he should
> be emailed. 

1) As I'm listed as maintainer of the tutorial I will package it. 
The reason I did not do this up to now is that I think we should try
to complete the current setup first.  With Debian 2.0 coming out next
month(?) and shortly after us having the Tutorial available seems good
timing to me.  This also helps bridging the next two weeks during
which I will be out of town. :-)

2) As I already told Havoc we should definitely contact this person.
This also brings me back to the "How Debian specific should it be". 
A lot of what's in the Tutorial is quite generic for all(?) Linux
distributions, so joining forces to write a GNU/Linux CookBook makes
sense.  However, we also need to be able to handle the Debian-specific
bits and pieces. 

> Anyway, aren't you glad you asked? That's what's happening, from my
> perspective. If someone wants to do the CVS thing (or give me the
> necessary account), or package the tutorial up, please do so. I'm in a
> time crunch for the next couple of weeks, but I can help a little and
> after that if there's interest I can put in some hours and get this thing
> done. It really isn't that hard; I'd say a chapter is a couple of good
> solid nights' work, if you know the material.
> Havoc


Ardo van Rangelrooij
home email: ardo.van.rangelrooij@tip.nl, ardo@debian.org
home page:  http://www.tip.nl/users/ardo.van.rangelrooij
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