Complete Manuals Book

Ralf Funken RFunken at
Tue May 16 07:53:53 UTC 2000

Hi to all,

as some of you already know, I'm working on the follow up of the book that was
published by OpenDocs last time 'Developing Linux Applications' (Or to be more
precise, I converted the whole stuff, edited and compiled the TeX files ... you
know what I mean).

Now, the point which is of interest here, is that this started a discussion
about licensing between Joshua Drake, Ralf Nolden and me and I'd like all of
you to take part in it. To give you a starting point, here's what's been said
until now (Sorry the disussion via phone hasn't been filed on tape :-)) )

>Would you be willing to rewrite the documentation under the
>OpenPublication license. This allow anyone to share, read, download, etc...
>but would stop my competitors (O'Reilly for example) from republishing the
>same book. This is not a requirement and as long as the book breaks even we
>will still publish it. It would just be nice to be able to get it into the
>major chains. This has proven difficult since anyone can publish the

>I thought about what you said about the licensing. Well, I'm not really happy
>with having the book under GPL either. That is because it's one thing to use or
>improve code to produce something new, like when you use KDevelop e.g., but
>it's totally different if you just simply copy someone else's work and make
>money with it. That's why I put that 'About this book' into it, but if it
is GPL I had to give the source, which is the TeX file in this case, to
anyone who demands that, and it'd only take minutes do delete that sentence and
you'd be done ... So what I really want to have if the following :
>1.) The manuals should remain GPL ( the others wouldn't want to change that
>anyway, and if someone wants to build a book from it he can do for himself. )
>2.) I want the PS or DVI file available e.g. on the KDevelop homepage, so
>people can download it and print it out if they like but
>3.) I don't want them to change the contents, so it is clear that it was our
>idea ...

>I think that way everyone could be happy with it. You could still use the
>manuals to produce something new ( a book for example). Users who can't afford
>the book or don't want to buy it still can print it out and other publishers
>are kept from STEALING our work.

>Is there a license covers that ? I don't know the OPL, but I my opinion, the
>sense of the GPL is to make spreading and improving software easy, not to make
>easy money. If the OPL is better for this task, I think we should use it
>for the book. What is important though, is that it must be possible for anyone
>to do the same thing again, I mean I spent quite some hours and if anyone wants
>to do that and get money for it, that's OK with me. I did it, because I liked
>the idea

>The only problem I see is that since the manuals are GPL the book must be GPL
>or it will violate the terms of the GPL.
>The OPL would allow downloading, distribution by anybody who wanted to do so.
>It could even be printed by schools and used as a textbook. What someone could
>NOT do is print it, Like OPENDOCS does and sell it for commercial purposes.
>The other problem with the GPL is that it is NOT designed for documentation.
>Lets continue to talk and see if we can come up with a solutions.

>That's what I came to think, when I tried to figure out a solution. In
>fact the GPL can get raped if you use it for documentation.  I thought about
>your last edition....
> ...I think that it wasn't the big deal for you. Now, if some other
>publisher takes that and prints it, maybe can afford to place ads for the book,
>it's quite clear it won't pay off . The effect is, that next time
>no-one will print such a book, because you can't afford to ...
>So what happens is exactly opposing your intention, when you used GPL.

Joshua sent the attached OPL here

>I received the OPL, thank you for sending. Let's start with the changes. I
>showed the book to the others and was asked to make the changes reflected in
>the attachment. In respect to their copyright I did so. Here's what is
>different now:
>1) The first page had to be changed.
>2) Had to remove the about this book section ( No special treating of one
>publisher allowed for now )
>3) Had to fix the copyright section as it was misunderstandable and not

>I know the book is GPL, so generally you could publish it any way you like,
>but I'm asking you to respect the changes and use it just the way it is.
>Furthermore I was asked to place the book on our server and again, I'll have to
>do so according to the GPL ( and my point of view ).

>I read it and it sounds OK for me. I think what you mean to prevent competitors
>from reprinting, is to use option B. Well, this would only work if we wouldn't
>permit any other publisher to print the book, and this will definitly NOT
>happen. I talked to Ralf Nolden yesterday and he was a little upset, because he
>wasn't even mentioned on the cover last time. The OPL protects the author's
>rights much better here and perfectly fits our intentions. We don't want to
>make money with the manuals (and fortunately don't need to, as this keeps any
>kind of  pressure from us), but if we spend most of our spare time for the
>team, the least we can demand is, that it should be obvious who did the job.

>Anyway the license question is still waiting to be discussed. What I said about
>the OPL is NOT an official statement, but only my personal opinion.

>Please understand that it is our entire intent to make sure that everyone is
>happy and try to adjust this process so that everyone gets what they deserve
>(whatever that may be). The first print of the KDevelop book was done poorly
>and we know that. That is why we are taking so much time to try and get
>everything right the second time around.
>Let me bullet what we would "like".
>1. Exclusive "Commercial Printing Rights"
>That is all. I know that it is a BIG ALL but it is the only thing we want. It
>also does not mean that we will not continue to publish the book if we don't
>get it. What we are trying to do is create a viable business model with Open
>Documentation. We want the ability for anyone to use, share and modify the
>documentation. That helps make the documentation better. Let me outline a
>scenario for you.
>In September KDE 2.0 is going to be out. Shipping as part of KDE 2 is
>KDevelop. KDE is already the most widely used graphical environment in the
>Linux world (Gnome is a close second). As more developers find the benefits of
>KDevelop and start to use it they are going to seek documentation. If the
>documentation becomes a high demand product other publishers will print it,
>thus washing the market.
>A prime example of this is the Installation and Getting Started Guide. Great
>book, then everyone printed it. Now nobody touches it.
>It was no longer UNIQUE. As you have stated, this is not software - it is
>The thing is, we are even happy to "pay" the authors for rights to these
>books. We do not and don't want or expect a free ride and fully expect to have
>to put in our fair share. That is more than you can say for most publishers.

Well, the exlusive rights demand is definitly inacceptable. I changed my
opinion in certain parts after having disussed with Ralf but this is not the
point here. I'm generally convinced that GPL is the right license for software
we produce. But when it comes to documentation, it simply doesn't fit. I mean
Documentation can't be used to produce something, you can read it or sell it.
There's no way I see, that GPL can protect the rights of authors of
documentation. As was said before, none of the authors have even been mentioned
on the cover. If someone produces code with KDevelop or any other GPL software
and then sells it, that's OK for me because he's selling his own work. If
however someone simply takes YOUR work and sells it, that's NOT OK for me. I
mean, the least you can demand, is that it is obvious it's your work. If I
understand right, that's exactly what the OPL guarantees and if you don't use
the options A and B you give the freedom of the GPL AND prevent stealing your
work. But I'm really not sure what to think, so I'm asking you to discuss this.



Ralf Funken

The KDevelop Project

Email: rfunken at
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