Subject: Re: The merger: a user's perspective
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:00:17 -0500


Tim O'Reilly wrote:
> We certainly would consider hiring someone with the right credentials to
> do this.  Obviously, we don't publish books only on free software, and
> we don't free all of the books that we publish[...]
>
> (Re completely free books--we've recently released our Samba book under
> those terms, and are working with the Samba team on integrating our
> efforts with theirs so that this is the official doc; we are doing the
> same with a book on Gnome, and are coordinating with Miguel; we also put
> out the Learning Debian book under these terms, and many years ago, the
> Linux Network Administrator's Guide.  We have a couple of other projects
> like this in the queue as well.  But unless these books surprise us by:

I have seen you talk about this multiple times, and every time there is a
glaring omission.

Please add Programming Perl to your mental list of the list of books that
this has happened with - the online perldoc documentation is largely based
on the contents of that book.  Yes, there was some argument at one point
about how free that documentation is, but the Debian project managed to
amiably sort out their differences with the Perl developers so *I* consider
it free.

> a) being substantially more successful than we would expect if they were
> non-free

How do you judge that?  With the Network Administrators guide you had
problems.  But Programming Perl worked well for you.  I suspect that
reviewing the difference between those two projects could be instructive.

> b) show benefits from substantial community involvement that makes them
> better or faster than would be the case if they were non-free)

You should ask Randal, Larry and Tom whether the fact that they were both
improving online documentation and also coming out with a book helped them
get feedback, made them more motivated, etc.  While you are at it you might
also ask them whether the synergy could apply to a third edition at some
point.  I really think that there are more books out there for you based on
mixing work producing online documentation with a hardcover book.

> we will also continue to do lots of books about free software under
> normal copyright as well.  Our goal is to get as much good documentation
> out there as possible, and we find that economic incentives are often
> more powerful than moral ones in getting that to happen.  But that's
> another story.)

Have you considered borrowing from the Aladdin model...?

Cheers,
Ben