Liberate the Debian Administrator’s Handbook

The liberation campaign is closed. This page now documents the story of the book’s liberation.

Cover of the current French book (Cahier de l'Admin: Debian Squeeze)The Debian Administrator’s Handbook started as a translation of the French best-seller known as Cahier de l’admin Debian (published by Eyrolles). It has been written by two Debian developers who are keen to share their knowledge.

To make this translation happen, we did setup a crowdfunding campaign with two goals in terms of money raised. The first one ensure that the translation would happen and the second one would allow the publication of the book under free licenses (Creative Commons BY-SA-3.0, GPL-2+).

On November 27th 2011, the crowdfunding campaign ended with the only the first goal reached. The translation work started but the liberation campaign continued on this page. People could continue to donate towards the liberation.

In April 2012, after a few significant donations from friendly companies and organizations, the liberation fund got completed.

In May 2012, we released the book as promised. It covers Debian Squeeze.

Now this is history, and we have to look forward. This book is an ongoing project: we want to improve it, we want to update it for each Debian release (starting with the upcoming Debian Wheezy) and we want to get it translated to many languages.

Your continued support is appreciated:

Thank you! As a final note, I kept Stefano’s quote to highlight the importance of this project.

Stefano Zacchiroli (Debian Project Leader): Debian has since long resolved that books, as well as other documentation material, should be kept at the same high freedom standard we require for software.

The scarce availability of free (as in Freedom) books about Debian is hence doubly unfortunate. It means that there is little book-like material that helps spreading Debian and its values, while at the same time embodying those values showing off their advantages. But it also means, ironically, that we have little such material that we can distribute as part of Debian itself.

I welcome any initiative that might help closing this gap. I also encourage authors of books on the topic of Debian to release their work under a license compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

Historical details

The FAQ used to include the questions below. They are kept here for reference purpose:

1. Why are there two targets?

We have set a first target (15000 EUR) that is really the strict minimum that we need to make the project happen, but we would not be properly paid for the time invested in the project. That’s why if we reach this target but not the second one, the book would only be available on a commercial and proprietary basis (i.e. you can buy it but not share/modify it). Note that all the money raised counts towards the first target, even the money that is earmarked for the liberation fund.

We have then set a second target: 25000 EUR in the liberation fund. Only the money earmarked for the liberation fund counts towards this target. Contrary to the first target where the money is partly used to cover for the costs of the “rewards”, the liberation fund will be almost entirely used to remunerate the authors. If this target is reached, the book will be published under 2 free licenses (CC-BY-SA 3.0 and GPL2+).

2. 25000 EUR ?! Aren’t you greedy?

Once you have subtracted the VAT (19,6%), the Paypal commission (3,4%), the Ulule commission (5%), promotion costs (~12%), the social taxes (~10%), and if you split it over 6 man-months of work, we end up with at most 2100 EUR/month (25000×(1-0.196-0.034-0.05-0.12-0.10)/6). We believe this to be reasonable.

3. What happens if the second target is not reached?

If the liberation fund does not reach 25000 EUR before the end of the initial fundraising period, then we will setup a another permament fundraising campaign until we reach the target. With persistence, we’ll get the free version! That said we truly hope that you will promote the campaign to all your friends so that we reach the target during the initial fundraising.

4. What happens if you get much more than what you requested?

If the money raised covers much more than the estimated 6 man-months of translation work, then this supplementary amount of money will be used by Raphaël and Roland to spend more time contributing to free software in general and Debian in particular — for as many months as possible.

Raphaël has a clear policy explaining how he uses the donated money that he gets.

Raphaël and Roland are self-employed: they have the possibility to spend a lot of time on free software provided that they have the money required to pay the bills.

5. What reward should I select?

Obviously the one that you like most. But here are some considerations to help you decide which reward to select.

If you believe (as we do) that the second target will be met (and even largely surpassed), then you might want to not select any reward. It means all the money is contributed towards the liberation fund (thus making it more likely that the second target will be met). And if this is the case, then everybody will have access to the ebook. This is the most effective use of the money.

If you fear that the second target will not be met, and you want to be sure that you get a least a copy of the ebook, select a reward with just the ebook and use the rest of the money for the liberation fund.

If you’re among the people who need real paper to read a book, then obviously you want to take a reward with the paperback. Even in that case you might want to put a bit more to contribute something towards the liberation fund. Another strategy might be to not take the paperback and put the money in the liberation fund because once freed you can easily get a paperback with a “print on demand” service (and we will provide this option once the book is available).

6. Why not let the community do the translation?

First, because the French version cannot be made freely available due to a contract with the French publisher. Also, we really want the translation to be of the same quality than the original, and for this you need to be consistent in the translation. The best way to ensure this is to have very few persons working on the translation.