The Debian Administrator’s Handbook is available

The Debian Administrator's Handbook CoverI am so glad that we managed to complete this project. Roland and I have spent countless hours on this book since December, both for the translation itself and also for all the things that we tend to forget: a nice book cover, a great book layout for the print version, coordinating the work of reviewers, registering as an editor to get an ISBN, etc. I think I will come back to this in a future article because some parts of the story are interesting.

In the mean time, enjoy the DFSG-free Debian Administrator’s Handbook:

  • get it from unstable with apt-get install debian-handbook;
  • browse the online version;
  • get the paperback or the ebook (available as PDF, EPUB, MOBI);
  • grab the sources with git clone git://anonscm.debian.org/debian-handbook/debian-handbook.git and contribute a translation :-)

Check out the official announce (there’s a discount for early buyers of the paperback).

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!

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.

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.