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.

Social Micropayment Can Foster Free Software, Discover Flattr

Social Micropayment

Flattr LogoA social micropayment system allows you to donate a small amount of money (a few pennies/cents) to thank someone else for a good blog post, piece of music, … or for a free software that you enjoy. That’s what Flattr is all about.

How Flattr works

With Flattr, donating is as easy as a single click on a Flattr button that content providers (read “free software developers”) embed on their websites. A Flattr button is very similar to a “Digg” button or other social buttons (you can look at the end of this blog post for a sample).

The amount donated per flattr varies from month to month because you define a fixed amount of money to spend each month (minimum 2€) and it’s split evenly between all the things that you appreciated. You can flattr as much as you want, it won’t cost you more.

Support Free Software with Flattr

Free Software lacks a good business model to fund the creation of software, yet someone has to pay the time spent in writing the code. Many projects have tried to ask for donations but the amount collected rarely covers more than the expenses for the website hosting.

Flattr makes it so easy to donate that this is possibly about to change. Flattr users have to spend their monthly amount each month, otherwise it gets donated to charity. Thus if it takes off, most Flattr users will grow the habit of doing regular donations to projects that they use and appreciate.

Bootstrapping the Process

Flattr FLOSS LogoFlattr is a new service, not many projects are using it to accept donations and not many users are participating yet. But it’s growing quickly on both sides.

In order to help users who want to support Free Software with Flattr, I have started the Flattr Free and Open Source Software project. You can subscribe to a newsletter to receive a monthly reminder with recommendations of Free Software to Flattr. If you have more time, you can also browse public directories listing various Free Software projects using Flattr so that you can manually pick your favorites.

To learn more about the Flattr FOSS project, click here.

I also invite Free Software developers to setup Flattr on their websites, blogs, … and to register those sites so that Flattr users can easily find them. To learn more about this, check out the Earn a Living With Free Software page.

Share the News

Flattr can change the situation of many small but popular free software projects struggling with a single developer who started it as a hobby and who can’t afford to spend more free time on it.

But this can only happen if lots of users start using Flattr to support the Free Software that they benefit from. So share the news, tell the friends, join Flattr FOSS and give some Flattr-love every month.

Get Your Free Flattr Invite!

Flattr is still in beta, but they like Free Software a lot and have offered 30 invites for the launch of Flattr FOSS. You can get yours by subscribing either to my main newsletter or to the Flattr FOSS one. Just reply to the welcome email you get after having subscribed and ask for your invite.