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contributing to Debian (woody?) documentation


I'm not a programmar really (I do not consider some fooling around in Basic, Modula or Pascal as programming :-), but I do want to contribute to the Debian Development, in some way.

Let's start from the beginning. It's gonna be a long story, it might annoy some people, but it's with best intentions. I just want to explain how I came to Debian Linux and WHY I want to contribute to the project.


I started with Slackware Linux, down in 1995. I happened to have it up and running quite soon, because I knew how to handle commandlines. I was a SysOp of a multiline fidonet-node running DesqView and Dos in these days :-))). And life was good.

But then I ran into trouble quite quickly, trying to upgrade to the 2.0 kernels. I had to upgrade almost evey "package" (somehow I just don't feel this pile of files in a tarball to be a "package", but ok :-) in the whole system to move from my good old 1.3.80 kernel (if I remember correctly) to the new 2.x kernels. So life went a little bit less good.

Then I tried RedHat. It gave me more, easy to install, packages. And hey, this RPM stuff was cool! I only had to type rpm -i <pkg name> and it worked! Life was good again (I'm a very lazy person).

Somehow RH didn't attract me anymore, because of security issues maybe. Anyway, I shifted to the BeOS for some time. Yes, I left the "linux", or Open Software World :-). In a way I liked it, BeOS rocks! I never saw such a beatifull system in my whole life (still!). But what to do with a lightning fast, stable as a rock OS if there are no apps? Or no drivers?

In the end the BeOS community was betrayed by Be Inc. Or by the shareholders, so to speak. And I hated this. Now I fully understood why software should be free. Not because of the money (I was willing to pay the $$$ for BeOS, it was worth it!), but because I now saw how restrictive things can be! A small group of idiot people with too much money, who probable didn't understand a f*ck about software or computing in general, decided to stop funding BeOS, and there I was, with nothing! I think a user-community should be able to make it's own decisions. People, individuals should be able to choose what to do with their computers. And most important, they should be able to continue working on something nice if the original creator decides to bail out.


For some time I just played a bit with Mandrake. It was ok-ish. Not stable enough, but nice and shiny looking. After some weeks I tried to de-install some package (gkrellm, because it was constantly blowing up X windows), and the RPM system just said: "ok, checking dependencies.... hmmm, let's remove all dependencies: base-system, X, kde, networking, EVERYTHING). I was just so angry about so much stupidity.

And for years I heard about this weird other flavor of Linux.... It was called Debian, and it should be VERY VERY VERY hard to install.... I never dared trying anyway. But after this nice RPM experience I talked to a friend of mine wo was using it (he was the one who pointed me at Linux 6 years ago!), and he told me about the packaging system.. I couldn't believe, but know I was sure ready to try.

Then another friend, a Linux-guru for years, gave me the book of Linus for my birthdat in July. It made me more sure about why software should be free. And why it should be FUN.

So I did. I tried the boot-floppies, and sorry to say, it was a pain. Mostly because I don't have much floppies in the house anymore, and secondly because almost all of them appeared to be corrupt soon :-) So that was unusable. I downloaded a Woody ISO and used that for a change. It worked, without a hitch (and some RTFM :-)

Now I'm 3 test-installs further, learned a lot. Currently my FreeBSD server (NAT/proxy/mail etc) is not running BSD anymore, it's running Debian for 3 weeks now, and I love it! (I forgot to mention BSD in my story above. Used it for a year now. It's nice, but it's just too boring somehow :-)

So. At this point I'm now fully ready to start helping newbies coming to Debian. I understand Debian is maybe not the easiest to learn, but it's sure worth it. If one is an absolute newbie to Linux, Debian is not the easiest way for sure. But it's worth it!

If anyone can tell me how I can contribute?

What can I do?
- I can write manuals. Doesn't matter what, as long as I find the topic at least a little bit interesting. I have some (6 yrs actually, but not a real die-hard :-) experience configuring linux as a home-router/firewall f.i.
- Some spare time (not too much, but enough).
- Maybe some input to others writing manuals.
- Translating manuals to Dutch. (if needed).

Well.. So far for my little story, sorry if it bugged you. I just felt that telling WHY I moved to Debian, and WHY I want to contribute is the right thing to do.


Pim Bliek

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