Linux Documentation Project Manifesto

Last Revision: 18 October 1999

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This file describes the goals and current status of the Linux Documentation Project, including names of projects, volunteers, and so on.


The Linux Documentation Project is working on developing good, reliable docs for the Linux operating system. The overall goal of the LDP is to collaborate in taking care of all of the issues of Linux documentation, ranging from online docs (man pages, texinfo docs, and so on) to printed manuals covering topics such as installing, using, and running Linux. The LDP is essentially a loose team of volunteers with little central organization; anyone who is interested in helping is welcome to join in the effort. We feel that working together and agreeing on the direction and scope of Linux documentation is the best way to go, to reduce problems with conflicting efforts---two people writing two books on the same aspect of Linux wastes someone's time along the way.

The LDP is set out to produce the canonical set of Linux online and printed documentation. Because our docs will be freely available (like software licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL) and distributed on the net, we are able to easily update the documentation to stay on top of the many changes in the Linux world. If you are interested in publishing any of the LDP works, see the section Publishing LDP Manuals.

Getting Involved

Send mail to: Guylhem Aznar.

Of course, you'll also need to get in touch with the coordinator of whatever LDP projects you're interested in working on; see the next section.

Current Projects

For a list of current projects, see the LDP Homepage. The best way to get involved with one of these projects is to pick up the current version of the manual and send revisions, editions, or suggestions to the coordinator. You probably want to coordinate with the author before sending revisions so that you know you are working together.

Documentation Conventions

Here are the conventions that are currently used by LDP manuals. If you are interested in writing another manual using different conventions, please let us know of your plans first.

The man pages -- the Unix standard for online manuals -- are created with the Unix standard nroff man (or BSD mdoc) macros.

The guides -- full books produced by the LDP -- have historically been done in LaTeX, as their primary goal has been to be printed documentation. However, guide authors have been moving towards SGML with the DocBook DTD, because it allows them to create more different kinds of output, both printed and on-line. If you use LaTeX, we have a style file you can use to keep your printed look consistent with other LDP documents, and we suggest that you use it.

The HOWTO documents are all required to be in SGML format. Currently, they use the linuxdoc DTD, which is quite simple. There is a move afoot to switch to the DocBook DTD over time.

More information on the DocBook DTD can be found in this online text: "DocBook: The Definitive Guide".

LDP documents must be freely redistributable without fees paid to the authors. It is not required that the text be modifiable, but it is encouraged. You can come up with your own license terms that satisfy this constraint, or you can use a previously prepared license. The LDP provides a boilerplate license that you can use, some people like to use the GPL, and others write their own.

The copyright for each manual should be in the name(s) of the contributing author(s) for the project. ``The Linux Documentation Project'' isn't a formal entity and shouldn't be used to copyright the docs.

Copyright and License

Here is a ``boilerplate'' license you may apply to your work. It has not been reviewed by a lawyer; feel free to have your own lawyer review it (or your modification of it) for its applicability to your own desires. Remember that in order for your document to be part of the LDP, you must allow unlimited reproduction and distribution without fee.

This manual may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, without fee, subject to the following conditions:

Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to the author and ask. These restrictions are here to protect us as authors, not to restrict you as learners and educators.

All source code in this document is placed under the GNU General Public License, available via anonymous FTP from the GNU archive site.

Publishing LDP Manuals

If you're a publishing company interested in distributing any of the LDP manuals, read on.

By the license requirements given previously, anyone is allowed to publish and distribute verbatim copies of the Linux Documentation Project manuals. You don't need our explicit permission for this. However, if you would like to distribute a translation or derivative work based on any of the LDP manuals, you may need to obtain permission from the author, in writing, before doing so (if the license applied to the work requires that).

You may, of course, sell the LDP manuals for profit. We encourage you to do so. Keep in mind, however, that because the LDP manuals are freely distributable, anyone may photocopy or distribute printed copies free of charge, if they wish to do so.

We do not require to be paid royalties for any profit earned from selling LDP manuals. However, we would like to suggest that if you do sell LDP manuals for profit, that you either offer the author royalties, or donate a portion of your earnings to the author, the LDP as a whole, or to the Linux development community. You may also wish to send one or more free copies of the LDP manual(s) that you are distributing to the author(s). Your show of support for the LDP and the Linux community will be very much appreciated.

We would like to be informed of any plans to publish or distribute LDP manuals, just so we know how they're becoming available. If you are publishing or planning to publish any LDP manuals, please send mail to Guylhem Aznar.

We encourage Linux software distributors to distribute the LDP manuals (such as the Installation and Getting Started Guide) with their software. The LDP manuals are intended to be used as the "official" Linux documentation, and we'd like to see mail-order distributors bundling the LDP manuals with the software. As the LDP manuals mature, hopefully they will fulfill this goal more adequately.