Skip to content

Textbook released – Practical Open Source Software Exploration

After months of work and a last-weekend rush of conversion from MediaWiki to DocBook+Publican, the Teaching Open Source writing team has released version 0.8 of “Practical Open Source Software Exploration: How to Be Productively Lost the Open Source Way“.  (HTML single-page and PDF.)

This week, Dr. Tim Budd at Oregon State University (and member of the Teaching Open Source community) began using the textbook for a class introducing FOSS programming and contributing.  We’re looking forward to getting feedback from the students.

Being a 0.8 release, it has a few bugs (formatting, mainly, but also some links in one chapter); I’m planning a 0.8.1 update over the next few days.  (The build broke while I was doing the final push out the door, so we had to ship what was published as 0.8 for students to start using.)  As a collaborative writing project, each of us focused on one or more chapters, and cross-edited for each other.  Greg DeKoenigsberg is lead writer and editor, and writing/editing was also done by Chris Tyler, Matt Jadud, Jeff Sheltren, Max Spevack, Mel Chua, and myself.  (I wrote/remixed the chapter on documentation, “Explaining the Code“, with source from Mel Chua and Lana Brindley. You can view the history of the wiki source/upstream for an idea of how it evolved.)  Jared Smith helped me with the wiki2xml conversion.  We used the ‘mw-render’ command from the ‘python-mwlib’ package, using the techniques we created for Fedora Project Docs Team.  (Thanks Paul for getting that package fixed in the nick of time.) It still needed manual clean-up for the final 0.8, but the automagic conversion does the heavy-lifting and gave something we could build with after only a little clean-up.  I converted all that to a Publican-based book, including creating a new branding package ‘publican-teachingopensourceusing ‘publican create_brand’.  Working with Publican was a total pleasure.  It has matured nicely as a toolchain and is available for other Linux distros and other operating systems. I thank it for a good source package that I’ll be submitting as my first Fedora package.  (More on Publican in another post.)