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Improving the (web) content (was: Re: Hurd advocacy?

From: Marcus Brinkmann
Subject: Improving the (web) content (was: Re: Hurd advocacy?
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:57:37 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.4i


I want to have this mail seen by the people on the regular Hurd lists, too.

I think that you give an impressive lists of what content is expected by a
beginner (and that term can include a professor on CS who wants to present
microkernel projects in his lecture, for example), and you seem to have
experience (or a natural talent) on how the first experiences of a user
can be made more delightful rather than frustrating.

It would be great if some people (this does not require in-depth knowledge),
maybe under your guidance, if you can and want, would write such material,
that can be included on the web page and be made available as PDF material. 
This can also be the base for hand outs and leaflets in times to come.

I'd be happy to review such material for technical correctness and if it is
in line with what we want the Hurd to be in the future.  I'd more than happily
leave scope, format and style to you.

Would you be willing to help with such an effort, maybe even by guiding it,
by organizing the volunteers, review their work and give advice for
improvements?  Who on these lists with good writing skills and who has
already made first experiences with the Hurd would be willing to write
on one or more of the topics below?  (Of course Mark can also write them if
he wants to :)

Please see the below mail for further details.


On Tue, Aug 19, 2003 at 02:29:32PM +0100, Mark Wilkinson wrote:
> When it comes to getting people involved my main concern would be the 
> current lack of awareness of Hurd in wider circles.  As I mentioned 
> previously, if Linux Format hadn't devoted two pages to it in one of 
> their issues, I'd still have never heard of it.  As it is, I've been 
> impressed enough to send Amazon money in return for:
> Operating Systems: Design and Implementation
> Andrew S. Tanenbaum
> and
> Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/software Interface
> David A. Patterson, John L. Hennessey
> and
> Code Reading: The Open Source Perspective
> Diomidis Spinellis
> With bedtime reading like this, I get lots of early nights.  Hell, there's 
> hardly room for the girlfriend...  ;)
> Anyway, back to topic.  Profile raising is important, the corporate world 
> is unlikely to be interested until they have something they can use, that 
> presents a clear advantage over whatever they're using now.  My line of 
> attack would be the lecturers on undergraduate Systems Design/Software 
> Engineering courses at Universities worldwide.  I regret that my friends 
> don't generally come from such exalted circles, but I can try and find out 
> who talk to at the Universities in my local area.  I confess that I don't 
> currently feel technically competent to give an accurate account of the 
> Hurd/L4 to an audience, so it would be great if a Hurd 'marketing' site 
> could be formed that talked about:
> What is the Hurd? - Where the name comes from, the fundamental design 
> concepts etc.
> Why another O/S? - Explain the differences in design between Windows, Linux 
> and Hurd, and why Hurd is doing things the way it is. 
> What makes Hurd so different?  - Expand upon the stuff above, going into 
> more detail on kernel independence and other *killer* features
> What do I need? - Talk about everything that somebody needs prior to 
> downloading/installing the HURD.  Talk about the areas of knowledge they 
> need as well as physical objects (like a computer)
> Where can I download Hurd? - Point to the Debian discs, explain a little 
> about how releases are numbered and talk about how to get the latest files 
> from CVS for experienced developers
> How do I install Hurd? - OK, lots of detail for the first-time installer, 
> links to an installation FAQ/Common problems piece.
> I have Hurd, *whatever* isn't working.. - Help us fix it!  Get in touch 
> with ... or read the ... mailing list and introduce yourself.  There's lots 
> to be done.
> Why should I help? - There are no direct financial rewards for working on 
> Hurd.  However, it looks great on your CV and helps to prove to potential 
> employers that you're serious about your work and you have the skills to do 
> the job that you're applying for.
> etc.  Make all of these documents available in PDF format so lecturers can 
> print them off and keep the pages maintained with *lots* of FAQ's and a 
> message board community for people to ask questions and get responses.  All 
> done at the sort of level that would appeal to someone who was just 
> beginning to learn about operating systems from a technical perspective.  A 
> one stop shop for Hurd knowledge.  A priority for me (and I know we're not 
> currently near this point) would be a Hurd/L4 release that could be 
> installed onto a PC without needing any kind of previous Linux installation 
> and co-exist on a harddisk without screwing up whatever other OS's exist on 
> that PC.  The user would be warned that Hurd was unstable and actively 
> encouraged to contact the core developers to assist in development.  If all 
> the document titles listed above existed and could be kept within a rough 
> length of say, between one and eight A4 pages, then that becomes material 
> that could be used in lectures, which in turn could significantly raise the 
> Hurds profile.
> Something like the above could potentially create new issues, who 
> 'controls' development?  Who settles disputes when there are two 
> conflicting opinions on a matter that can only have one outcome?  But to me 
> open source is about settling things through open reasoned discussion, and 
> I'm sure that as long as these things are thought about prior to acting on 
> any of these suggestions, it can all be worked out.  It's up to us to draw 
> people in and invite them to gain experience while working on a complex 
> real world project.  It offers the opportunity for people to broaden their 
> knowledge and skills, and see something real grow from the work that 
> they've put in.
> These are just opinions, I feel like a fraud for typing so much when I 
> haven't even got the Hurd installed on my PC yet, but if we could get our 
> foot in the door of universities/technical colleges then there's the 
> potential for an entire generation of software engineers/programmers to at 
> least be aware of the Hurd even if only 1% of that number actually get 
> involved.  Feel free to shoot me down in flames/tell me to stop prolonging 
> this time consuming thread.  Thanks,
> Mark
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`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU      http://www.gnu.org    marcus@gnu.org
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/

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