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 or or 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: 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. 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? 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.


    • says

      Eva, yes it’s the bare minimum, I was thinking more of features like forums where supporters can discuss the project, the possibility to mail all supporters during the campaign, to give news about the progress on the project page, etc. I might have missed some of those and the fact that you can’t browse the hosted projects doesn’t make it easier to get an idea of what can be done.

  1. Sdenka Salas says

    I’m been using Debian Lenny since March 2009, in Puno-PERU. I am a teacher at Glorioso San Carlos high school, where we migrated totally to Debian GNU/Linux. Our students from 11-16 years old use Debian and we won a lot of recognition from Ministry of Education. I’m interested in your iniciative, because our free software community is producing books and we need some kind of funding for continuing producing.

    I would be very happy to contribute with a donation and after gathering the nedeed money, you can offer the book for free to everybody around the world.

  2. hidden says

    The Debian book is strongly needed for all newcomers, because free things – best things!

  3. Sancher says

    It’s realy good idea to translate the book into English.
    I think it will be very useful for all people who prefers OpenSource.

  4. PehJota says

    This would definitely be a help to current and prospective Debian community members. And in the spirit of the Debian project and the FOSS movement as a whole, I’d love to see this released under free licensing (hopefully with e-book options as well).

    Have you considered translating this in a bazaar-style manner to reduce your workload? That is, open up the translation effort to anyone who can contribute their time–perhaps using some version control system, wiki software like DokuWiki (stores content in plain text files, which may help in compiling a final manuscript), or something like Google Docs?

    • says

      PehJota, the french version is not available freely so it can’t translated that way. Furthermore I want the result to be of high quality and having lots of translators is usually a bad idea if you want the document to be in a consistent style.

  5. says

    I am a FR/EN translator (PT and ES to EN, as well, and, of course, a Debian user), and would be honored to participate in the translation of this book.

  6. says

    Hi Raphael,

    Finally, can we fund this book one way or the other ? Can you tell us where/how ?

    Bests, and thank you so much for all the good done to Debian and FLOSS.

  7. marco says

    Hi there,
    I am searching for a Debian Squeeze book, I would like to donate for a hard copy… I hope it will be something that explores Debian, rather than installing Debian. I can dream the installation, but have to search for more knowledge about Debian… And it is hard to find. Like kernel compilation, administration, setting up a NFS server or e-mail station.
    So, I hope you can setup the fund raising! I will be glad to pay for a book that covers the system…
    All the best from the Netherlands/Europe. And hope to read your work soon.

    • says

      Hi Leonardo, I just finished a big work project and I shall update my French book for Squeeze. Once that is done this translation project will start.

      Just subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll be informed in time!