Subject: RFA: open source training materials
From: Jonathan Corbet <>
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 1999 22:57:33 -0600

This list has been awfully quiet recently.  In hopes of inspiring some
activity on one of the best of the many lists I subscribe to, I present the
following Request For Advice.  We are considering releasing our Linux
training materials under some sort of "open source" license, and could use
any wise comments from you on whether you think that is a good idea or not.

Background: we (Eklektix, Inc.) have been in the training business for a
little over a year.  (We're also the publishers of the Linux Weekly News).
Our flagship course remains our Linux System Administration course; we have
some others (application development, device driver development) in the
works.  The system admin course has earned us some money, and has produced
a number of very happy students.

Nonetheless, the training business is getting pretty crowded, with a number
of players who are rather larger than we are.  We're wondering about our
future competitiveness.  We're also wondering if we aren't better off
emphasizing our class design and courseware development capabilities over
straight teaching.

Thus we are considering making our training materials openly available.
We have not even begun to think about the details of licensing; we are
inclined toward being pretty liberal, though.  The main question might be
whether we try to impose one of those dreaded attribution requirements or

What would we hope to gain?  A few things come to mind:

- Maybe people would see the quality of our materials and rush out to
  sign up for one of our classes.  Our experience suggests that might
  well not happen.  Releasing course materials does not really 
  demonstrate our ability to teach classes, it demonstrates our ability to
  create courseware.  Our stuff would have to get pretty famous before
  prospective students would be likely to have heard of us.  Instead, we
  could just find ourselves surrounded by even more competitors.

- Maybe companies that want to get into Linux training hire us to help 
  them get going with the courseware, design a training lab, and so on. 
  We talked a bit with Ransom Love of Caldera Systems last month, and he 
  mentioned the need for people to "train the trainers."  Releasing our
  materials could maybe help us to become the leading Linux meta-trainers. 

- Maybe businesses out there with a need for courseware of their own see 
  the quality of our work, and hire us to develop courses meeting their
  specific needs.

With any luck, we also get higher-quality course materials, of course.  

So...for those of you who were kind enough to read this far...any thoughts
on the above?  Would *you* make this release?  What obvious thing have we

Many thanks,


Jonathan Corbet, Eklektix, Inc.