Kickstart the Arabic Translation of the Debian Handbook

Cover of the Debian Administrator's Handbook (Wheezy edition)I just wanted to highlight that Muhammad Saied, a volunteer translator of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, is currently running a crowdfunding campaign with Mohamed Amine so that they can complete the Arabic translation that they started.

There’s only 6 days left to collect the last $2500… click here to help spread Debian to the Arabic world.

Finding a new name for the Package Tracking System

The Google Summer of Code rewriting the Package Tracking System is approaching its end and I’m starting to think about deploying it on debian.org. Its scope has expanded over the years and the rewritten PTS will continue this trend by bringing some new features for teams (like the possibility to subscribe to all packages of a team).

I believe that its current hostname (and name) doesn’t reflect properly the role of the PTS. Add to this the fact that there’s still some work left to be done to reach feature-parity with the current PTS, I’m considering deploying it in parallel to the current PTS under a new name.

“Package Tracking System” is also a bit too long for a name, and sounds more like a description than a name…

But if I get rid of “packages.qa.debian.org” and “Package Tracking System”, how should we call the new PTS? :-)

The PTS is a sort of central place that brings together information from many parts of Debian. It’s currently mainly a consumer/dispatcher of information but I expect to integrate some of the external services that are useful for all Debian derivatives, and it will thus become more and more a producer of first-hand information as well.

To replace packages.qa.debian.org, Stefano Zacchiroli suggested me hub.debian.org and I must say I like it, it’s short and relatively close to what the PTS actually is (and reminds me of DEP-2 — the new PTS will be an asset to make it a reality). My other ideas were devel.debian.org, inside.debian.org, watch.debian.org, track.debian.org, … do you have better suggestions? what’s your preference?

Finding a better name is harder, but there’s room to build on the hub concept and similar images. I would like a full name that’s not too long and an associated abbreviation/short name for the top-level Python package (currently we use “pts” for that Python package). Can you come up with something original and satisfactory?

My latest thoughts end up with “DistroHub” as full name and “dhub” as Python package name. Still boring…

So, dear lazy web, I heard that we’re good at bikeshedding in Debian, so can you come up with something better? Share your suggestions in the comments!

What about creating The Ubuntu Administrator’s Handbook?

I am currently running a crowdfunding campaign whose ultimate goal is to liberate the English translation of a French book that I have written. This book will be named The Debian Administrator’s Handbook because it has primarily been written for Debian.

Creating a new Ubuntu book based on The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

But since Ubuntu is based on Debian, a large part of its content applies equally well to Ubuntu. While discussing with Mark Shuttleworth, he suggested me to reuse those parts and to create a new book dedicated to Ubuntu. It would also cover the latest cloud technologies that Ubuntu has been delivering (since this is a topic that the current book does not cover).

This is something that I have been envisioning for a while and something that I would be ready to try if we manage to complete the liberation of the current book. This project would then bring a truly free book to the Ubuntu ecosystem.

Why? The official Ubuntu books are not really free

There’s a policy in place that ensures that official Ubuntu books use a free software/culture license and they are effectively available under the terms of a Creative Commons Share Alike license. But try to create a derivative book… you won’t find the “sources” (LaTeX or DocBook usually with most big books). You can only find a few PDF copies if you google for it. But this is really not the preferred form of modification for such a book.

Those books are also not packaged. Ubuntu much like Debian deserves to have a good book embodying the values of free software that can be shipped together with its product.

When I speak of liberation of the book, I really mean it in the way that free software hackers are used to: a public Git repository containing the DocBook sources, the pictures and the .dia files for the various schemas.

Help Ubuntu by spreading the word

I understand that at this point this proposed Ubuntu book is really hypothetical (“vaporware” one could say) but we need to go step by step to make it a reality. And the first step is to ensure that we manage to liberate the Debian Administrator’s Handbook.

For this I am seeking the support of the Ubuntu community to promote the current fundraising campaign. If the perspective of the Ubuntu book is not enough to convince you, you’ll be glad to learn that I also commit to give back to Ubuntu 15% of the money raised via the link below (once VAT has been subtracted).

Click here to go to the crowdfunding campaign page and pledge a few euros. Then share this article (or the link http://debian-handbook.info/go/ulule-ubuntu/) and convince others to participate.

At this point, the liberation target is entirely reachable with your help and the help of the community: the remaining 18 K€ needed in the liberation fund represent 720 persons giving 25 EUR each or 1800 persons giving 10 EUR each.

Thank you very much for your support and your help in this project!

Contribute to Debian while promoting the Debian Administrator’s Handbook

We just announced the launch of the fundraising campaign for the Debian Administrator’s Handbook.

We wanted to use this opportunity to let people contribute money both to our project but also to Debian itself. That’s why we have setup a special link that you can use to participate. 15% of any donation made through this link (after VAT has been subtracted) will be given back to the Debian Project.

Here’s the link: http://debian-handbook.info/go/ulule-debian/

Feel free to use this link when promoting the project to your friends, so that even more money goes back to Debian.

You can also embed a special widget on your website where any visitor that ends up becoming a supporter will also contribute 15% to the Debian project.

Help us spread the word about the project, and help raise money for Debian!

Do You Want a Free Debian Book? Read This.

A bit more than a year elapsed since we announced our plans to translate our Debian book into English and to try to get it published under a license compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. But we’re now ready to go to the next step.

Completing the translation of 450 pages book is a huge work, we estimate it’s going to take roughly 3 full time months for both Roland and me. Since we’re freelancers, we can take the required time provided that we have a minimum income during that period. That’s where you come into play: we have setup a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule.com and we need your support to raise €15000 (this is the absolute minimum for us to be able to commit the required time).

Even if a good and up-to-date book on Debian is a great perspective, we want to go further than that by adding the perspective of getting a DFSG-free Debian book. That’s why we have transformed the crowfunding campaign in a liberation campaign. When you support the project, you can pledge money towards a liberation fund… and if this fund reaches €25000 then the book will be published under the GPL-2+ and CC-BY-SA 3.0 licenses.

On top of this, when you support this project you can select a reward that goes from a copy of the ebook to a dinner with the authors (only 10 places for the latter)! Among the other rewards, there’s obviously a paperback version of the book, but also an individual one-hour mentoring session with me… a nice way to get you hooked as a new Debian contributor (limited to 40 persons, don’t miss the opportunity!).

Wait no longer, click here and pledge some money to bring this reference book to Debian and the rest of the world.

We also need your help to spread the news and get as many supporters as possible. Share the link with your friends, write an article on your blog, put a widget on your website, etc. Thank you very much!

Click here to go to the fundraising page and to learn more about this project.

Discover my Debian DVD shop

After a private launch (with discounted prices) for my newsletter subscribers, it’s now time to open my Debian DVD shop to the public.

I did not want to become yet another DVD reseller, so my DVDs are different and better. Here’s why you want to get one (or more):

  1. it’s easier to install Debian with my DVDs since they provide all the (non-free) firmwares that have been stripped and that you’re supposed to provide on a USB key;
  2. the installed system features the former theme (MoreBlue Orbit) and not SpaceFun (although you can reactivate SpaceFun easily if you prefer it);
  3. 100% of the benefits are reinvested into Debian (90% to fund my Debian work, 10% given back to Debian to fund work meetings)
  4. they are provided in a beautiful DVD case and despite this they are not expensive (between $3.49 and $5.49)

Click here to learn more about my DVD offer.

PS: Click here and join my newsletter to not miss other opportunities.

What’s annoying with Flattr buttons on Planet Debian?

Dear Planet Debian readers, a significant number of people have expressed concerns over the presence of Flattr buttons on Planet Debian. The concerns were expressed in a thread on the debian-project mailing list and they were quite diverse.

While the discussion brought some of the issues into light, it’s not really possible to find out whether a specific concern is widely shared or not. That’s why I set up a poll on selectricity.org.

Please take a few minutes and rank the various options: put the most important concern first in the list, and sort the others by decreasing importance. If there are concerns that you do not agree with, put them below the entry named “Special: I don’t share the concerns quoted below”. And to prove that you have read through all the options before voting, put the other special entry last (it’s named “Special: I know how condorcet voting works and thus I put this item last”).

Click here to go to the poll. You need only one minute to vote and no login is required.

PS: The discussion on debian-project is the reason why I changed the footer in my RSS feed to contain only plain text (in a smaller font). I also improved the wording to be more neutral.

Wiki page to share Debian presentations and associated templates

After having created my Debian presentation template, I wanted to share it so that future speakers can reuse my work. Surely there should be a place for this. I quickly found Ubuntu’s dedicated wiki page, and for Debian the relevant place was on the website.

However looking at that page, it’s obvious that the website is not the proper place: the page has not been updated with new talks since 2005. It’s just to much burden for any speaker. A wiki page is much more convenient in that regard. Switching to the wiki means we loose translations but that’s still better than an outdated translated page on the website.

So I went ahead, I created http://wiki.debian.org/Presentations and I filed a bug against www.debian.org to suggest to move the content to the wiki (see #601337) and to leave a link pointing to the new wiki page.

So the content of the website needs to be injected into the wiki. This is an easy task for someone that wishes to start contributing to Debian. Thus it’s your task.

Once completed send a mail to 601337@bugs.debian.org to inform the webmasters that the wiki part of the work has been completed. They just have to drop the old pages and replace them with links to the wiki.

PS: If you have given a Debian talk recently, please put your slides online and link to them on the new wiki page.

What Debian & Ubuntu topics would you like to read about?

A woman enjoying this blogAfter having looked back at the first months of this blog, I also want to look forward and see how I can improve its content. If you’re a Debian/Ubuntu user and/or contributor, I want this blog to be a truly useful resource for you. What kind of articles would you like me to write?

I have lots of ideas but I can’t do everything. I’ll share some of them so that you can discuss them:

  • New in Debian testing: a regular column covering changes affecting testing users.
  • Short presentations of software available in Debian/Ubuntu (like debaday.debian.net used to do).
  • Articles covering wishlist bugs on developers-reference so that they can be easily reused to improve the documentation!
  • Interviews of Debian contributors.
  • Description of small tasks that one can do to start contributing.

Pleases discuss and share your ideas in the comments. Don’t limit yourself to the above list, you know better than me what you need: tell me what kind of documentation was lacking in your daily usage of Debian/Ubuntu, or what could have been better explained while you tried to contribute to Debian/Ubuntu.

While I set no limits on Debian/Ubuntu topics that I accept to cover, my main focus is around documentation for end-users and/or contributors.

If you prefer you can also send your feedback with Identi.ca, Twitter or leave a comment in the entry for this article in my facebook page.

Do You Want a Free Debian Book? Read on.

Cover of my French Debian BookWhile I have made good progress on many of my Debian goals for this year, it’s not the case for the goal number #1: translating my Debian book into English. The picture on the left is the cover of the current French version based on Debian Lenny (450 pages). But the translation would be based on the next edition that we’re currently preparing and it’s based on Debian Squeeze of course! We have already translated the table of contents so that you can get an idea of what’s in the book. Note that many parts of the book apply to Ubuntu as well.

It’s quite difficult for Roland and me to allocate several months of our life to such a huge task without any income in that period and without knowing if our book will sell enough to cover for the time invested. For those reasons, we’re considering using a service like kickstarter.com or ulule.com or yooook.net to get this project funded.

If you don’t know those services, they allow you to present your project and to collect pledges so that you can safely complete your project. The money pledged is distributed only if the total amount pledged exceeds the minimal funding level (set by the project creator). Furthermore you can select nice rewards depending on the amount of money pledged.

To make things even more exciting we are ready to publish the book under a DFSG-compatible license at the sole condition that we reach 25 000€ of donations. That might look like a lot but in fact it’s only 5€ donated by 5000 persons and then everybody benefits! And for the authors, you have to remove ~10% of fees taken by the funding service (including card processing fees), 16.4% VAT, 9% social taxes and if you consider that the project represents a minimum of 6 months of work, that ends up to at most 2850 €/month. We believe this to be reasonable.

The next step for us is to pick the service to use and setup the fundraising. We need your input. Please answer a few questions by filling this form.

In all cases, we will have those rewards and probably more:

  • the book in digital format (PDF, HTML, ePub) (between 5€ and 10€, price not fixed yet)
  • the book as paperback (between 35€ and 50€, price not fixed yet)
  • the paperback book with a dedication by (one of) the authors

A few considerations about the various services: Kickstarter.com is a great service but it’s restricted to US-residents so it’s complicated for us to use that service since we’re French (and live in France) and the supporters need to have an Amazon (payments) account. Ulule.com is open to anyone for project creation but uses a paypal API to deal with the pledge mechanism and thus imposes that all supporters have a paypal account. Is that requirement likely to scare you away? Yooook.net is specialized in liberation fundraising but the interface is not very polished, they don’t offer (many) social features nor do they give a public listing of the projects hosted.

The choice is difficult and thus we’re seeking your feedback to make the right one, take a few minutes and answer our questions: click here to go to the form.

Thank you for your help and please spread the word so that we get enough answers to have meaningful results.

Update: it has been brought to my attention that kickstarter requires an Amazon (payments) account. I fixed my article and the form to document this.

I have also been asked what license we’re going to use. It’s likely to be dual-licensed GPL2+ / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Update: The crowfunding campaign is now running on Ulule. Click here to see its project page.