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Obtaining Debian's assistance with a project

Can you tell me how to go about getting the Debian Orgs assistance with
a project. Essentially, the project involes writing 3 volumes. The
series is called the "Laud GNU/Linux Development Series". An outline of
the series is provided in the document laud1.html (attached to this

Regards, Wayne.
About the Laud GNU/Linux Development Series

This document briefly describes the objective and purpose of the Laud GNU/Linux Development Series. The Laud GNU/Linux Development Series is a set of books which describes and applies GNU/Linux technology.


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What The Laud GNU/Linux Development Series Will Be

The Laud GNU/Linux Development Series is a set of books (hopefully only 3, but possibly 4 volumes if coding of the Kernel and the OS can be addressed in a single volume) that intends, from a self-teaching and self-learning model, to enable any person (eventually any person will include people with disabilities) to self-acquire basic to high level GNU/Linux computing skills in an applied way. An aspect of the skills acquisition journey requires that a person accesses information and resources to build a personal GNU/Linux System. An individual's development of their personal system can be as basic or as complex as they wish (given that within the building process there are numerous working system's cuts out points). The series, however, is not solely focused on the process involved in the production of a working GNU/Linux System.
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What Laud GNU/Linux System Will "Not" Be

The Laud GNU/Linux Development Series will always retain one very important focus - the provision of information to enable self-skilling.

The "Laud GNU/Linux System" will not, now or at any time in the future, provoke or result in the establishment of some organisation that makes and then distributes yet another GNU/Linux Distribution (there are sufficient distributions already available and the end amounts to a distraction in purpose).

Further, the series will focus only on the potential and best use of free software (the freer the better). Hence,

the series will not make use of, nor make reference to, commercial software.

The previously mentioned position is an absolute position. The best focus here is probably to encourage experimentation with "free" software that will equally benefit all rather than promote some commercial interest in software that only intends to benefit a very few.

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The Purpose Of The Laud GNU/Linux Series

Besides making a continual link to the processes of teaching and learning in skills acquisition it is hoped (through the use of plain language, highly visual schemes, and participative techniques) it will be possible to demystify computer science/technology and thus open up the GNU/Linux user base.

Additionally, the series will attempt to pull together a plethora of software documents that are floating around cyberspace and place them in one convenient and inter-related medium. In so doing I hope that the series will begin to tackle an issue that appears to plague a lot of free software documents, namely: they are often poorly written; they overly utilise technical jargon; and, they assume too much of a reader. If freedom in use and application are important in the individual's access to, and equity in, something - then software document writers need to deal with the fact their current approach to writing, and hence informing others, appeals to a limited few rather than the multitude.

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About The Word, Acronym, And The Variable $LAUD

The word LAUD means: "to praise or extol something". The word is also being used here as an acronym that is composed of two parts. The letter "L" refers GNU/Linux software whilst the letters "aud" literally mean Australian currency (in financial markets "aud" is used to indicate the Australian dollar). Put the two ideas together and you end up with something like "GNU/Linux with Australian input". Lastly, the variable $LAUD is nothing more than a technical consideration in the building of a GNU/Linux system. The Laud GNU/Linux Series will encourage people to rename the variable to something they would prefer.
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The Laud GNU/Linux System

For the purposes of applying the information contained within the 3 (possibly 4) Volumes of the Series - an actual GNU/Linux System is to be built (which will be called Laud GNU/Linux). The system, "like" the series, will be developed over time (it is hoped each volume of the series will be updated annually).

However, the GNU/Linux System, "unlike" the published series, will not be made publicly available. The reason is simple ... building the system is meant to be an activity within a learning process. Part of that process is to physically build a personal GNU/Linux System. The series will not limit GNU/Linux computing skills and knowledge acquisition to a simple and single activity. There are other considerations within the process, such as: system's administration; programming; script writing; use of applications; use and deployment of electronic services (i.e. ftp, http, site development, etc.); and, ... the list goes on. The Laud GNU/Linux System will amount to framework to encourage creative computer pursuits.

The framework should result in the production of a system that is highly stable (some of the very prominent distributions continue to have problems in this area) and complex. That complexity will include X11, two desktop environments and electronic services. However, what the system will not include is a kitchen sink, dogs, cats, chickens ... i.e. unnecessary software will be sent to another planet.

In terms of the potential of the System the considerations will be development and creativity. Only 3 games programmes will be recommended for the system and there inclusion will only be on the basis of exploring games programming techniques.

At this stage I have not set a rigid list of software components for the Laud GNU/Linux System ... but it will need to be done. The suggested system will need to work rather than simply represent some theoretical position.

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Present State Of Development Of The Series

The short and long answers are the same! The series is in a pretty pathetic (or primitive) stage of development.

I only commenced putting the series together in January, 2001. To put some direction into the project I began mapping out the content of each volume. The contents of Volume I is pretty well set (it needs to be reviewed to ensure it does not double up on material in Volume 2 and 3). The content lists of Volumes 2 and 3 at this stage are in a more generalised form (i.e. the broad areas to be covered). As I do not know if the series will proceed to a fourth Volume (i.e. Kernel and OS coding) I have not considered a possible contents list for the last book in the series.

The contents lists for Volumes 1 to 3 will be firmed up by the end of March. The usefulness of these lists is that they frame a writing technique that is akin to filling in gaps (i.e. placing specific material under a determined heading).

Besides establishing content guide lists for each book in the series I have commenced writing Volume 1. Volume 1 is comprised of 21 chapters (this will be revised downwards) and 12 appendices (the list of appendices will remain fairly static).

The following indicates Volume 1 chapters that are now being written:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
List of Appendices
*    not compiled

** being progressively compiled

N.B.: The reference lists (On-line Documents Bibliography; Bibliography Of Text; and Volume 1 Index) are things developed as I go along but they are more an end of work consideration.

The following chapter is in little more than a research stage:

Chapter 3: The UNIX Language - Part 1
Very minor work is being carried out on the following chapters:
Next to no work is being carried out on the following chapters at this time:
Missing chapters - as previously indicated the contents of Volume 1 are not set in concrete. A planned chapter on security will be removed from volume 1 and placed in volume 2. At this stage I do not feel comfortable with Scripts so this chapter will possibly find its life in volume 2. Further, I need to develop a chapter to both explain guided exercises and assist those not familiar with GNU/Linux to get up to scratch in a short period of time. Lastly, I want to try and develop the idea, and the potential application, of the Persuado programme (without crapping on or miss-leading people about the programme's existence).

Chapters 12 - 14 provides information on the installation of core software packages) information in the following way:

1. a page that elaborates on process and possible options; and

2. a page (i.e. a coloured table) setting out "suggested" installation steps.

When it comes to installing software packages like GCC, the GLIBC (group) and other complex packages then the rule of a single explanatory page and a single installation guide page is not adhered to. It is not possible to stick to this format when installing non-core software (such as XFree86).

Regrettably, because I am not happy with GNU/Linux document formatting programmes, I am using Win98 programmes to write volume 1. Given the rough nature of work to-date, it is not necessary for me to think about how I will get around the problem of converting data from one platform to the next. This issue will only become relevant when I approach a final first draft of the volume 1 (about August/September).

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How The Debian GNU/Linux Community Could Assist

In the development of the Laud GNU/Linux Development Series the Debian GNU/Linux community, given its long association with GNU/Linux, could assist in a number of ways, such as:
(1) provide technical advice that assists the development of a workable GNU/Linux System;

(2) act as the vehicle that tests and assesses the Laud GNU/Linux System;

(3) review and make comment on the contents of each completed volume in the series;

(4) provide common and free access to the electronic files of the volumes through Debian site or related mirrors;

(5) consider assisting (or taking on in its own right) the development of the fictive interactive teaching program tentatively labelled "Persuado".

In the continuum of what is most important to what is least important in the project ... this non-existent teaching/learning aide is the second most important goal (the completion of the written text being the first).

In terms of the development of a GNU/Linux System I am not asking the community to help produce a clone of either a current or a past Debian distribution. Compared to a Debian Distribution, the Laud GNU/Linux would need to economise on its features inventory and it should clearly be set up to easily manage source and binary files.

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Problems To Be Overcome

The list of problems is not significant and tend to reflect my personal lack of computing skills.

In the development of a personal GNU/Linux System my lack of programming skills may result in something that gets off on pickles rather than software. Until this particular skill is developed then the Persuado program has to be viewed as a long-term objective rather than one that could be satisfied in the immediate future.

Additionally, I am finding software installation is a little more complex than just being able to run: ./configure, make and make install!!! In the development of a system (that includes X and other normal service) I have not been able to establish a software installation process that works. Further, trying to combine the use of source and binary files has proved to be a describable pain (which I have abandoned for the time being). The order, placement and linking of software are definitely issues for me and this may remain so for a period of time.

The last of the problems is finding a suitable GNU/Linux software package that allows me to think and design documents on the fly (refer comments: "In Need Of A Special GNU/Linux Technical Document Programme"). I became so frustrated with some of the GNU/Linux programmes just freezing on me as I was doing ordinary editing that I made a decision to revert MS Win98 text programmes.

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The Persuado Programme

>From the outset, one point needs to be made clear - Persuado is just an idea. There is no such programme!

The goal of Persuado would be to provide any individual with a personal learning environment. Hopefully, the learning environment will mimic human senses and human interaction with the environment.

In terms of ordinary computer environments the program will need to mimic an X11 desktop environment (such as gnome). The programme needs to at least appear to be operating as a shell (such as bash), an editor, a file manager, a browser, an ftp client, and, an e-mail client. Learning activities (and levels within) will be closely tied to a given chapter in a given volume of the series.

Persuado would need to be a very easy and highly programmable tool that allows the setting up of teaching modules (by non-computer technicians) geared to address levels in learning related to: topic introduction, getting to know, trying out, getting feedback, and allowing individual application with assessment (it is not possible to fully explain the teaching/learning model in this small readme document).

From an altruistic point of view I hope (when this programme is developed) that it will become a tool that enables those individuals that cannot cope with, or fit into, mainstream education institutions, a means to access formal education/training opportunities.

Exactly how the above will be achieved is something I cannot answer at this stage. Persuado is in the left field ... and can be liken to a jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the box!!!

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Access To The Series

When completed, each volume in the series will be:
1. converted to a set of electronic files (html and pdf); and,
2. a hardback book with a set of CD-ROM's (the CD-ROM's will contain the source files and the programme Persuado).
The electronic files will be hosted on some organisation's server and will be made available "free of charge" to "any person" from "any background".

The hardback copy (English language version) of each volume will be published in Australia (I at least want to retain a say over the quality and presentation of each volume in the series). Initially, the series will be distributed by an Australia Distributor of technical books. Some time down the track international distribution alternatives will be explored but only if the issues of publication cost and book quality are agreed too. There is no need, nor is there any justification, for excessive profit making in the distribution and retail of publications (or any material item for that matter).

I cannot guarantee the series will be translated into other languages simply because the task will require a "war and peace" effort which may be off putting (the length of each volume will be about 1,000 pages). However, if translations of the series is possible, the option will be explored. Translated versions of the series would have to be subject to the same free access requirements as the original English language text.

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The Issue Of Copyright

Copyright is not an issue in any significant way.

Generally, copyright will model (but extend) the right to something as suggested in the Open Publication Licence. There is no, or next to no, need for any person or group to construct a licence to grant another person(s) some freedom. The ideas contradict each other and in effect suggest someone has a right to determine what someone else's freedoms will be ... rubbish. On the issue of freedoms removal the qualifications must be based on harm, destruction and best interest not the structuring of unnecessary controls or the assignment of some economic benefit!!!

Essentially, a person who accesses the series (either over the internet or by purchasing a copy of the text) will be able to do whatever they like with information contained in the series (subject to any legal requirement that the series cannot void).

The names/titles: "The Laud GNU/Linux Development Series"; "A comprehensive guide to: building a personal GNU/Linux System: based on a self-teaching and self-learning model"; "Laud GNU/Linux" or "Laud GNU/Linux System", will be subject to copyright. And the only reason these names/titles will be copyrighted is to enable mainstream publication of the series.

A person could if they wished, take one or all of volumes of the series, remove any references to Laud GNU/Linux, the Laud GNU/Linux Development Series, etc. ... rename the books something else and then distribute the renamed works without breaching the copyright of this series.

What we call an individual "idea" is something that is actually derived from the compote of human knowledge formed over the entire period of human existence. I often challenge the right of any individual or any entity to lay an exclusive claim or an economic right to anything (especially natural resources, forms or arrangements). Patents and copyright (especially intellectual property rights) blatantly deny the pre-existence of knowledge or the source of something and as such ownership, exclusive rights and the assignment of economic benefits should be openly challenged and precluded.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

The original source of information for this series is the Linux HOWTO's and other documents provided by the Linux Documentation Project.

In terms of the development of a personal GNU/Linux System there were two HOWTO documents that provide a framework to build a personal GNU/Linux system, namely: Greg O'Keefe's "From power up to bash prompt" and Gerard Beekmans' "Linux from scratch". Additionally, there is an interesting and more complex bootdisk creation HOWTO. As useful as the O'Keefe and Beekman documents are I have continued to yearn for something different. The Laud GNU/Linux Series is that something different ... and it will travel its own path.

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In Need Of A Special GNU/Linux Technical Document Programme

Does anyone know of a GNU/Linux Desktop Publishing Program that is an equal to Adobe's Linux version of FrameMaker????

I dislike those programmes where you must resort to coding or tagging as pages are developed. I prefer very visual and uncluttered environments. Programmes like StarOffice (now OpenOffice) and AbiWord are not suitable for the production of long technical books.

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My Contact Details

If you would like to contact me in relation to the above project, my contact details are:

Name: Wayne Hyland
E-Mail address: comaus@ozemail.com.au

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