Future format of the book

Robert Connolly robert at linuxfromscratch.org
Tue Jun 3 19:08:21 PDT 2008


Hello. Recently the lfs-dev mailing list seems to have decided to flip from 
xml to php, and to add rpm spec files for all packages so that a package 
manager can optionally be dropped in. Boot and Udev scripts have also been 
integrated into the book.

I may have mentioned it before... I hate xml. It's nice to look at the html, 
it stores information well, but despite the generous help and maintenance 
from Manuel, I hate maintaining an xml book and I seriously doubt I will like 
php any better.

I want to bring us back to 1969, with a plain text book. In a single tarball 
have the book, boot scripts, maybe patches too, separated by directories 
instead of links. Pages for packages can be written with #comments so they 
can be run as shell scripts to install packages. Each package has a 
directory, with it's patches (if any), grsecurity policy for the programs, 
and file lists for tripwire (and/or package manager).

So the Inetutils package could have a chap6 directory like:

chap6/inetutils
chap6/inetutils/chap6-inetutils.txt (shell script)
chap6/inetutils/inetutils-1.5-fixes-2.patch
chap6/inetutils/ftp.grsec_policy
chap6/inetutils/ping.grsec_policy
chap6/inetutils/talk.grsec_policy
chap6/inetutils/telnet.grsec_policy
chap6/inetutils/tftp.grsec_policy
chap6/inetutils/inetutils.docfiles_list
chap6/inetutils/inetutils.programs_list
chap6/inetutils/inetutils.libraries_list

Or some variation of this. This is the most robust approach I see. It has what 
everyone needs, maybe not in the way they want it but in a way that's 
perfectly usable.

A book like this would make me much much happier. It's easy to maintain, and 
practical. It's not very easy to read from an html browser, but maybe a 
simple index.html page could be done to keep things browsable, and easy on 
svn if a new package is added or if packages are moved around.

The way I have been editing xml, with Vim, is extremely prone to errors. The 
pages are not usable, easily, as scripts. And adding more stuff like file 
lists will just make things worse. Xml is perfectly capable of handling all 
of this, but it's overkill and I'm more happy as a system developer than a 
book developer (I do not want to learn xml).

I know a lot of people will not like a flip to plain text, and to be honest 
that doesn't bother me one bit. If anyone has a suggestion that doesn't 
involve me or other editors taking a six month course in web programing then 
I would like to hear it.

This idea is harder on book readers and users, and easier on editors, which is 
less efficient, but I think it's a fair compromise if extra hours are spent 
on systems development.

I want to thank Manuel very very much for converting the original plain text 
book to xml/html, and for doing ongoing maintenance and changes, but I want 
to go back like it was originally. This has been bugging me for a long time.

I'm curious to hear opinions about this. My mind is open.

robert



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