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Re: Some technical suggestions

cogNiTioN wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> On Mon, 8 Nov 1999, Stein Gjoen wrote:
> >       SEARCHING
> >       =========
> [...]
> >  - local searching:

> How about creating a search command e.g. "howdoi keyword", or "howto -k
> keyword", and acts like man -k does, except it uses the howto documents.

It should be possible. The simpest way would be to search in the
HOWTO index file itself.

> Could a command (howto?) perhaps be setup that presents the user with a
> list of the howto documents, and links that they can click on, or select,
> that takes them to that howto document. (A keyword search could also be
> included?)
> perhaps:
> alias howto="lynx /usr/doc/howto/html/index.html"

A bit more finesse would be required, we cannot assume that everyone
has Lynx installed, they might use any nomber of alternatives such as
Netscape, Amaya etc. In fact we cannot be sure what form the HOWTOs
are stored in, text, compressed text, HTML etc.

> Maybe even a command like howto multidisk would fire up the multidisk
> howto, (as could man howto multidisk?)

First we have to let people know it exists and where, then I guess
tey will be able to read it with the appropriate tool such as
less, zless, lynx, amaya or whatever they have. If they have the docs
as HTML then a simple link would be all thta would be required to go
from the search to the actual documents.

> Maybe "howto -update" could check http://www.linuxdoc.org/updated.txt (or
> similar) for files that have changed since the last time the files had
> been downloaded, and then download the changed files. This would ensure
> that the howto documents in circulation were kept up to date.
> The format of the updated.txt file could be:
> howto-file-page.html:date-last-updated
> (e.g.:
> NET-3-HOWTO-10.html:08NOV1999
> NET-3-HOWTO.html:08NOV1999
> )
> This could also update a file called update.howto on the local machine
> that said when each file had last been updated.

The idea is intersting but also rather difficult. Few install
raw HOWTOs temselves but rather use .rpm or .deb packages, and
directly manipulating parts of such packages would be messy.
Also it would mean that the LDP would have to make the package
files rather than the distributors and I am not sure what people
would think of that. Do we have the capacity to take on that
task (not yet I think), and what does the current packaging
maintainers think?

> > Someone has made an online Linux encyclopedia which I found
> > very useful and comprehenive. The author stated he is not happy
> > with its low visibility, so why not join forces and invite him
> > and his "Pedia" on board? It already contains many links to HOWTOs
> > so we should perhaps help by reciprocating. Check
> >       http://members.aa.net/~swear/pedia/index.html
> IMHO, I think the LDP should join together and link to all other linux
> documentation projects. This could get confusing, tho. so the link could
> only be added if it has unique content, an easier way of looking at
> things, something that makes it worthwhile linking to.

I believe the Pedia adds a component that the LDP has not made
but that complements the work in a useful way for experts as
well as beginners.

> >       HELP FILES
> >       ==========
> >
> > I believe we need to add a SMALL text file into /etc/skel/ so all
> > beginners get a starting point. How about this:
> also, the line:
> For information on how to get help, type "less help.txt"
> could be added to the motd. That way people would notice the file, and
> realise that they can use it to get help on getting help.

I don't agree on this. The motd should be kept lean and be a
message for everyone, not just the beginners. A message on
first logging in or an automated mail message should do the
same trick I think.

> The LDP is there to help the newest of new users, and therefore, NO prior
> knowledge can be assumed, we need to present the user with a quick, easily
> remembered way of accessing the howto files, tell them about it, and
> inform them of the LDP, what it does. The documentation is what keeps me
> with Linux (rather than BSD*), so this 'selling' point should be 'sold' at
> every opportunity, IMHO.
> Also, could the LDP set up a mailing list that enabled users to send
> questions or requests to help? I realise this could well be swamped
> (perhaps moderated?), lots of the documentation I've read has said
> something like for more help post to comp.linux.all-the-answers..., but I
> don't read news, I never have, and lots of newbies probably won't either.
> Or maybe we could work with lugs to provide this? (i.e. The ldp has a list
> of lugs, each of which has been urged to set up a mailing list (if they
> don't already have one), and the newbies are directed towards their local
> one, shown details of how to subscribe to their list (via a web based
> form?), and then they can ask for help from their lug. Perhaps one member
> of each lug could report back to this list with a list of topics newbies
> asked for help with, but that weren't covered by current howtos, or
> explanations that frequently needed explaining.)

I hope we can get the infrastructure (technical and operational)
working first so we can measure the level of success in the (hopefully)
reduced traffic in news:comp.os.linux.setup and mailing lists.
Having achieved that I would welcome some kind of infrastructure for
channelling feedback to the authors. Personally I welcome feedback but
some traffic in the Slashdot discussions suggests people are too
intimidated to approach author directly, and I have received some
ultradiplomatic mail too.

A semianonymizing channel such as feedback via lugs would therefore
probaly open the floodgates before we are ready for it. Also I feel
we should focus on getting the process working , fixing known
deficiencies before opening this firehose.

Incidentally it seems that the current vacuum is being filled by
commercial entities, I see many posts from Questionexchange and
others, picking up customers in news:comp.os.linux.setup by providing
what the LDP should have done.

> .org domain for co-ordinating the worldwide lugs? Could LDP
> help with this? The more the LDP does, (obviously the more the user will
> benefit, but also) the more people will hear the LDP mentioned, and this
> will increase their awareness of our presence.

Perhaps the LDP could make some presentation material for
people to use in the LUG meetings?

> Just my 0.02 (and the rest :), I apologise if some points have already
> been brought up, and dismissed, or are currently in operation.
> If you'd like me to give coding an example "howto" program ago, let me
> know, I don't think it'd be too hard in shell script.

It could be interesting but also difficult if you want to make it work
on a wide range of platforms, spanning numerous file formats
(.txt, .txt.gz, .txt.bz2, .html), numerous readers (lynx, amaya, mc),
and also several file locations depending on file standard used
( /usr/doc/HOWTO/ and /usr/share/doc/HOWTO/ ).

   Stein Gjoen

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