[TriLUG] writing about a OSS project you had nothing to do with
Joseph Mack NA3T
jmack at wm7d.net
Tue Jun 5 16:08:25 EDT 2007
On Tue, 5 Jun 2007, Greg Brown wrote:
> So, Triluggers, I'm wondering would about the ethics of profiting through
> writing about a OSS project that you, yourself, had nothing to do with?
I think this is the default. Most people developing projects
aren't great documenters, publicisers or explainers.
Admittedly the OpenNMS people are out their earning money
from their code, so they're better at doing so than the
I'm the LVS-HOWTO maintainer. A couple of years ago, someone
who'd never appeared on the LVS ml came up and announced
that he had a book on LVS on the point of being published
and would anyone mind doing a critical reading of the
drafts. The lead coder and myself read it from end-to-end
and passed on our advice and criticisms and a year later,
the book came out. At the time, I was a little surprised
that someone who we'd never heard of was an expert on our
project. I would have rather the guy announced ahead of time
what he was doing. As it turns out he was a private sort of
person, who didn't want people leaning over his shoulder
offering "helpful" advice and he didn't want anyone
pressuring him time-wise.
Someone gave a talk a couple of years ago at TriLUG on
Radius, following the publication of his book on the
subject. AFAIK he had nothing to do with the developement of
Radius. A S.C. member of NCSA quite a while back published a
book on Unix/Windows. Although not quite fitting your OSS
project constraint, he did it on his own.
> Say I decide to write a book about any OSS project, say,
> SSH. Better yet, what about Small Business Network
> Management Using OpenNMS. That project is one that is
> managed locally. What if I did decide to write such a
> book? Could I be stopped or could the project pressure
> the publisher using their OSS licenses to have the book
If it's GPL'ed they can't do this and it's not in the spirit
of GPL to do it anyway.
> Or am I just free like the wind to write such a book and
> profit personally? For the purposes of this argument
> let's say I would keep all the money and not return any to
> the project (just for the sake of argument, people).
For the LVS book I got a free copy of the book. I don't
think that authors make much money from computer books,
certainly not enough to pay for the time writing it and not
enough to pass on to the project. Another author I know,
admittedly of a specialist reference book, only sells enough
books to pay for the website advertising it.
If your book is good and the people writing the code make
more money by people wanting to install the code, then the
project people will make more money.
> What do you think? I can't imagine all the OSS related
> books were blessed by the specific OSS projects yet there
> seems to be something not quite right about it.
Since you've announced here that it's OpenNMS, if you decide
to go ahead, it wouldn't hurt as a courtesy to let the
OpenNMS people know your plans. Later you could bring your
drafts around for perusal and see if anyone is interested in
reading it. They aren't going to want wrong info about their
project out and about, so they should have a strong interest
in making sure it's technically correct.
When the book is out, drop off a case of the books (which
you'll have to buy at full price - probably wholesale)
autographed by you, for them to hand out to their customers.
Joseph Mack NA3T EME(B,D), FM05lw North Carolina
jmack (at) wm7d (dot) net - azimuthal equidistant map
generator at http://www.wm7d.net/azproj.shtml
Homepage http://www.austintek.com/ It's GNU/Linux!
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