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[GNU-linux-libre] Collaborative Documentation between distros

From: Abdur-Rahman Morgan
Subject: [GNU-linux-libre] Collaborative Documentation between distros
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 12:58:55 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100120 Fedora/3.0.1-1.fc12 Lightning/1.0b1 Thunderbird/3.0.1

Good Day All!,

I am sending a first draft of a proposal that I took responsibility for
creating a "task list for students" to work on documentation that free
distros could collaborate on. When I attended the the FSFLA meeting last
week on IRC there was some discussion about this. As I said it is just a
draft and as I have been reviewing each distro site today and creating a
mindmap of each distros infrastructure, I imagine that I will have some
refinements to make and I already have tons of ideas about how this can
be implemented. The last suggestion for language support between us is
very important.

In an effort to collaborate efforts among Free Software Distributions,
the FSFLA has requested that a task list for University Students who
would participate in the process of refining documentation for free
software distributions.

Several areas of documentation need to be addressed. A priority for each
distribution would be:

Installation, which consists of installing a Free Software Distribution
on a desktop or laptop. This involves the process of obtaining the
software, preparing it on various types of media, having a user
understand the requirements of their hardware to installing it, setting
up specific options based on the different types of configurations on
the user hardware to ensuring that they user is able to install to the
desktop and run the machine successfully.

Use, which consists of setting up common tasks, providing an overview of
terminology for the desktop, common methods of connecting to the
Internet, overview of a set of common packages that would be used for
e-mail, web browsing, music, office, video and updating their system.
This would also include documenting common technologies used by users on
an everyday basis that are not easily configured, but needed by users.
This should also include a basic overview of everyday common tasks that
the user may need to perform as root.

Support, which consist of common support tools where the user can find
help. These include ensuring that the user understand where they can
find assistance if they have issues with the installation or use of the
system. Subscribing to and using mailing list, logging onto IRC, which
includes registering and setting up common clients to participating in
forums. These also include providing documentation to services that the
user may need to utilize outside of the regular support models online in
order to ensure that they are able to utilize alternative means for help.

These areas would require that students:

Document and install each distro and its installation method, including
common steps for distros that have the same base, while providing
alternate screenshots where some distros may differ. As some distros are
simply live CD's, these distros may require a shorter document that is
meant to get users up and running with specific tools.
        Both types of documents should include common areas where problems
could arise.

Research common desktop environments and programs after install.
Document the desktop environment and similar programs using the most
common release that is shared between most distros. Ensure that
screenshots of most common configurations are provided in the form of
walkthroughs that provide a step by step documentation for the user.

Aggregate a list of common communication methods for users to subscribe
to each distros mailing list, direct links to forums, wiki's and other
common tools that provide direct contact with other users and
contributors. This should include companies and organizations that
support Free distros as to ensure consistency for support.

The last area where documentation would be needed would be participation
and contribution, which would document where users could get involved.
This would include common areas that Free Distros see the most need in
maintaining their infrastructure. With participation and contribution,
documenting a method for students to become familiar with programming
and development utilities that help end-users practice task from editing
wiki's to refining web pages based on their own expertise and level of
comfort. This could also include advocacy locally for Free Software.
This area would require:

        Research into the build and development process of each distro and
documentation that would help individuals understand the process and
tools necessary in creating a distro. This could further bridge
communication among users and developers to help ensure sustainability.

        University Students would be required to choose a specific area and
dedicate the respective amount of credit hours towards per week in the
completion of documenting a specific task by the semester's end. They
need to include:

Clear, screenshots with thorough step by step directions
Concise language based on the screenshots to ensure consistency
A method to test that their directions can be articulated by a
non-familiar user(i.e student, teacher, friend)
Submit them using formats specified to a wiki or other webspace and
ensure that it is consistent with other documentation on the system in
the database

        The time spent in creating the documentation should takes students
between 1-4 hours depending if they are researching a specific
procedure, creating screenshots for an install, typing and proof-reading
documentation, having someone test their walkthroughs or taking the time
to upload the information to a site.

Additional task for students documentation can include:

Language Translation for Catalan, English, French Galego, German,
Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, which are common languages used by
distributions, but not limited to those languages as they have users

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