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Liberate the French Debian Handbook

So that everybody may benefit from this reference book published by Eyrolles

About the project

The liberation of the book is going to happen, thanks to you all!

Our minimal target has been reached, but we hope to go further than that. With more money, we can spend more time on the book, and update it more thoroughly, and maybe even deal with new topics (like the “cloud”, or any other topic that you might want to suggest in the comments...). More money also enables us to be more generous, and to give back a share of the earnings to the Debian project. Here are the new targets:

  1. 19 000 €. If we exceed this amount, 5% of the earnings will be given to the Debian project. On top of this, everybody who opted for a reward of 10 € or more get an electronic copy of the “mémento Git” published by Eyrolles and authored by Raphaël Hertzog and Pierre Habouzit (in French, PDF format).
  2. 22 000 €. If we exceed this amount, it's not 5 but 10% of the earnings that will be given to the Debian project. And on top of the former ebook, everybody who opted for a reward of 20 € or more get the  « Sécuriser un réseau Linux » ebook published by Eyrolles, courtesy of the authors Bernard Boutherin and Benoît Delaunay.
  3. 25 000 €. If we exceed this amount, it's no longer 10 but 15% of the earnings that will be given to the Debian project. And of course, the two ebooks published by Eyrolles are still included.

Thank you for this wonderful adventure and keep promoting this project !

Presentation of the project

After freeing the English version of the book (thanks to you), we want to loop the loop and also free the original French text. The proposition is simple: buy a copy of the Debian Squeeze book (in French, published by Eyrolles), read it at your leisure during the summer, adorn your laptop computer with the elegant pre-cut Debian sticker you'll receive with it, and impress your colleagues and friends after the holidays by showing them all you can do with Debian without shelling out a dime in software licenses! :-)

On top of all that, you'll have the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that these 50 EUR contributed to freeing the book so that everyone can benefit from its quality, and so that its contents can evolve in parallel to Debian… which seems only natural for a book about an operating system that strives to be universal!

About the Cahier de l'Admin Debian, published by Eyrolles

This book grew, through five editions, to become the reference for all those who want to make Debian theirs.

With many sidebars that make it within easy reach of beginners, the first half is of interest to all potential users (including the general public as well as more professional administrators) since it presents the Debian project, its package management infrastructure, the basic tools, and the setup of this well-established Linux distribution.

The second half describes many of the services that one might want to implement with Debian, including for servers and/or large-scale deployments. We won't give the full list of subjects here, but have a look at the table of contents and make your own opinion.

Christian PerrierChristian Perrier: As the manager of part of the computer infrastructure of Onera, I have always found the “Debian Handbook” particularly useful to get the new administrators of the servers that I put in place started.

Explaining the specificities of installing and administering a Debian server is often difficult to achieve but the book does this wonderfully and makes my work much easier.

All along the book, we took great pains to document the Debian specificities: even though most of the software we describe is also available for other distributions, a generic Linux book wouldn't be able to fully document the extra value that the Debian infrastructure and integration can bring.

Since we're both Debian developers, we're well aware of these specificities, and we have experienced them both personally and for our many clients.

David BercotDavid Bercot: I discovered the Debian Handbook when I started switching over to free software. […] I needed a guide that could both give a broad overview of the system, and delve into technical details.

The first chapter on the Debian project and its specific nature within the Linux ecosystem allowed me to understand why this distribution was really unique and why it was so popular with millions of users.

For more information on the book, please visit its dedicated web page; it includes the table of contents, twoexcerpts, a list of frequently asked questions, and testimonials from readers.

About the pre-cut Debian sticker

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… so here's a nice picture of yours truly (Raphaël), taken by my sister, clearly showing the pre-cut sticker on the back panel of my laptop (note that the sticker on the photograph is slightly larger than the one on offer here):

In a less artistic way, here's a close look at the sticker; left, as present on the back of my Thinkpad X430, and right, as it will be delivered.

To set up the sticker, you'll have to: remove the paper, position the sticker where you want it to be, smooth out any potential bubbles, then delicately peel the plastic film that protected the sticker and kept it flat. Ta-da!

History and presentation of the project

This project has a slightly convoluted history. The English book (The Debian Administrator's Handbook) was initially translated from the French Cahier de l'Admin Debian Squeeze. This translated version, and its liberation, were made possible by Eyrolles generously agreeing to grant back the rights on the English version to us.

This operation had no impact on the French book, which is still distributed commercially under a non-free license by Eyrolles. The priority for us was to set the English translation on its tracks, as well as any other translations that could be started from the free book (so far, four are well on their way, and a good ten others are started).

But we still had, somewhere at the back of our minds, a to-do item: convince Eyrolles, as soon as possible, that licensing the Debian book to be more in line with the Debian values would contribute to the book's success. With Debian 7 out, we naturally came to think about updating the book, and this gave us a good opportunity to discuss a contract explicitly mentioning a liberation for the book. This wasn't an easy deal to make, since freeing a book often has a significant impact on its sales. We'd like to extend our gratitude to Muriel Shan Sei Fan, who's been our editor from the start, and Nat Makarevitch, without who this book wouldn't exist today.

This crowdfunding operation embodies the compromise we (the authors) have reached with Eyrolles, which should allow for both the liberation of the book and the commercial release of the book by Eyrolles and their distribution network (read: bookshops).

If you believe, like we do, that these common efforts towards freeing the book make sense and are worth it, we would very much welcome your contribution up to your means. 15 000 € looks like a significant sum of money, but it only amounts to 300 books (since they're sold for 50 €, shipping included)… and if you can talk some of your friends to participate too, we'll be there in no time at all!

What are the funds for?

The net results of the operation (ie, what's left after VAT and the Ulule fees are deducted, and once the rewards are paid for and shipped) will be split evenly between us (the authors) and Eyrolles.

On our side, we'll use the money to finance the update of the French translation. The liberation that concerns us is that of the currently available Debian 6 (Squeeze) book, but we've already started working on updating the English book for Debian 7 (the English book is now our reference version); once that is done, we'll also have to spend quite some work updating the French translation.

On the publisher's side, the funds help Eyrolles stay involved in this book. The money will be used to publish a new edition of the French book based on the update we'll make, and to distribute this book in shops so that it keeps on existing in the “real world” and not only on the Internet. We're honoured and delighted to see Eyrolles continues to promote the book despite the possibility of it not selling much due to its availability on the Internet.

We believe that a free book can still be an economically healthy venture; help prove us right, buy your copy today!

About the project owner

In case you come across us around a Free Software event, here's what we look like (Raphaël on the left, Roland on the right):

We're both long-time Debian developers: I (Raphaël) started in 1997, and Roland in 2000. Even though we're often on the #debian-devel-fr IRC channel, our first real collaboration was when we set up the alioth.debian.org service.

One thing led to another, and I never had reason to regret involving him in the book. Roland's attention to detail means all his contributions were very valuable, both on the basis of their contents and as far as the presentation is concerned.

Our professional lives have also been similar: since the both of us chose to go freelance after some years gaining experience in salaried jobs, in order to fulfill our longing for independence and to better align our work with our passion for Free Software.

For further information, just visit our respective websites:


  • What license will the Cahier de l'Admin Debian be released under?

    The book will be released under the same two licences (GPL-2+ and CC-BY-SA-3.0), as the ones used for the English version.

    Last updated: 7 years, 2 months ago

  • Why a book about Debian 6, since Debian 7 is freshly out?

    Because the book about Debian 7 isn't ready yet; because 80% of the Debian 6 book still applies to Debian 7; and because Eyrolles still has a number of books that it would be a shame to remainder or pulp.  In addition, once the book is freed, you'll be able to get its updated version for Debian 7 (Wheezy) for free in its electronic form, as soon as we complete it.

    Last updated: 7 years, 2 months ago

  • I don't read French, why should I care about a French book?

    Check out the Debian Administrator's Handbook... if you find it valuable, you should know that it only exists because the French book existed beforehand.

    Supporting this operation (even without ordering any reward) is a good way to show us (the authors and the publisher) that you appreciate what we have done and what we're going to do now.

    Last updated: 7 years, 2 months ago