Debian Licensing IssuesAbout 2/3 of the LDP document collection will be removed from the base Debian distribution due to licensing issues unless they are relicensed. Most LDP documents are licensed under the LDP License, an old license used by the LDP in years past but that has been deprecated for some time. Now the need to relicense has become urgent.
The Debian GNU/Linux distribution maintains separate trees for Free and Non-Free applications. The LDP has always been included in Free, apparently because nobody at Debian ever noticed that most LDP documents are Non-Free, according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. (The DFSG is the policy which became the foundation for the Open Source Initiative's Open Source Definition.)
In the course of a conversation with Colin Watson, the Debian LDP maintainer, I became aware of the licensing problem and let Colin know that Debian was in violation of their own Guidelines, and they are now in the process of splitting the LDP up into two separate collections, one composed of Free documents, and the other Non-Free.
The Non-Free documents are not a part of the Debian base system. Although many Debian users install both Free and Non-Free applications, many others do not. The removal of many LDP documents from Debian base is not good news for the LDP.
To further complicate issues, The freeze date for the next release of Debian is due on December 8, only a few days from now. It is quite possible we will be able to slip in some updates after that date, since documentation updates are such a low risk to stability, but we still have no time to spare.
I am asking all LDP authors to help us out by licensing your documents to make sure they are freely distributable and that modified versions are allowed.
The LDP does not officially endorse any one license, and we do not require any one license. We absolutely require that a document be freely redistributable, but we do not require anything beyond that. However, we also want to continue to have as many LDP documents available in the base Debian system as we possibly can.
So, I am making a personal appeal to all LDP authors to ask that you relicense your documents under the GNU Free Documentation License, the Open Publication License (without applying the non-free options), or any other license that complies with the DFSG.
Please either commit your update to cvs if you have an LDP cvs account, or send your updated document to email@example.com as usual as soon as possible.
And thank you all for your continued support of the Linux Documentation Project. We wouldn't exist without you.
David C. Merrill
Update: A list of documents not covered under GFDL or OPL is available here.
New Maintainers NeededI've been writing to authors whose documents have not been updated in the last year to inquire as to their status. Often, these documents don't need updates, particularly if they document traditional Unix™ tools that haven't changed much in years, but sometimes authors are no longer able to keep their documents up to date.
Our list of unmaintained documents has been growing dramatically due to this effort. This doesn't mean we have more unmaintained documents, just that I am identifying them. If you happen to be the author of a document listed here, your listed email is invalid and you need to contact us and update the document with your current email address. I consider documents with stale email addresses to be unmaintained.
Beginning with this week's LDPWN, I'll be listing all of the documents that appear to be unmaintained. These documents are in need of someone to take care of them and keep them up to date. If you have some expertise in the area, please adopt one of them and help your fellow Linux users. They appear toward the end of this page.
If you would like to become the maintainer of an LDP document, we will give you some help in getting started. Join the LDP discussion mailing list by going to lists.linuxdoc.org, and post a message indicating the document you are interested in. We'll help you get on from there.
These documents have been abandoned by their maintainers and many of them have not been updated in some time. If you're willing to become the maintainer for one of them, please join the LDP discussion list at lists.linuxdoc.org and post a message indicating your interest.
About the LDP
The Linux Documentation Project is developing free, high quality documentation for the GNU/Linux operating system. This includes the creation of HOWTOs and Guides, and collaboration with other documentation groups.
If you've always wanted to help Linux reach Total World Domination(tm), but you're not a programmer, there's still something you can do. Help the LDP!
The LDP keeps a page of resources for authors at http://www.linuxdoc.org/authors/. Contributions are always welcome.
For more LDP Weekly News, go to http://www.linuxdoc.org/ldpwn/