Translating GNU/Linux documentation

Ever since I discovered the ruthless freedom of GNU/Linux I have wanted to evangelize to every possible PC (and Mac) user. I began with several flavors of LiveCDs that allow you to try without touching the system you’re testing on. But although some Live systems even let you add your own modules, it is still not the same feeling as the first time you install a Linux distribution from scratch. Or the first time you compile an application from source.

You ask yourself: But if I do decide to install, will it really work?
The answer, unfortunately, depends on the kind of Live CD we are talking about. Some let you install directly from the CD while others ask you to fetch an installation disk that in turn may differ from the Live CD. In my experience most things do work, but need to be configured. After that, they mostly work faster than the Live version because of the limitations of running from CD/DVD players.

My first installed system was Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake (which makes me believe the "Ubuntu hype" or popularity is working), then I switched to its variant Xubuntu, before I took a leap into the Slackware world and installed Zenwalk Linux. Zenwalk is not aiming to be just another distro but a complete OS for desktops and servers, with a philosophy of simplicity. Instead of X number of media players and Y text editors, it selects one application for each task. With the improvement of netpkg, I have heard that it is easier to add/remove packages than it were before in slackworld. It also has the fastest boot-up time on ancient hardware (my lovely Leeloo boots at ~1 min.), a title I think it will keep until the day the first Haiku OS is released.

I am no programmer by heart, but I do occasionally code from necessity. But being a *nix novice I can’t contribute much to the Great Open Source Project with anything but feature requests and bug reports.. until there was a call for translations. Spreading the word about Linux to the masses and showing them how use-able, compatible and stable a modern Linux system is, is somewhat limited when you can’t offer documentation in native languages. And being the lingo nerd I am, having translated several types of documents professionally, it sounded like a job for — Me!

So if you want to contribute in any way to the open source projects, don’t give up if you don’t know any code. There are lots of things you can add to your favorite distribution, ’cause what any open source project needs is not what you don’t know, but what you do know; your devotion, talents and opinions.

12 thoughts on “Translating GNU/Linux documentation

  1. Well… I have to say that was nice. Tried the Live CD.

    I’m a bit skeptical towards the lack of packages though. Xnetpkg seems fast though compared to adept manager (Kubuntu), especially searching.

    synergy / quicksynergy wasn’t found.
    Same with vlc, though I guess it has plenty of replacements for that.
    No gvim either.
    On the plus side, it did find eclipse and xchm.

  2. I’ve got synergy working now. From You could actually just download the file, right click and choose install package. Nice!

    Well, what can I say. Firefox starts up fast. Very fast. On my 1.67 PPC GHz with 1.5 GB of ram, Firefox is very slow. Like 5-6 seconds to start up. Here, 1.3 Pentium centrino, 512 MB of ram, it’s … less than one second?! Holy yay! :-)

  3. Sure enough… Firefox starts up very fast on my 667 MHz too. A lot faster than on the Kubuntu 1.67 GHz. heh. (It doesn’t read from the CD, so the program must be loaded in memory. Hope the same happens on the standard install CD.)

  4. I’m not familiar with Fedora Core, but I’ve heard good things about it. Long time ago, though. Debian is really shaping up these days with the Ubuntu craze, and I think PC Linux OS 2007 can be a good choice too (especially for ex-windows users).
    I’m going to test it on Leeloo to see how it goes before I ship her to my father.

  5. Thanks for the link, that’s pretty interesting Sigg3.

    Contributing as a package manager can also be important. Or online docs. I’ve never made a debian package (kind of embarrassing, but it can’t be too hard).

    I’d rather not use OS X. I am using a Mac, just running Ubuntu on it at the moment. I like the screen (high res, 1440×960 or something).

    Bad points for OS X in my opinion:
    Very slow.
    Lack of configuration options. (shortcuts).
    iTunes formatted my iPod. WHAT?! Yes. Really. I didn’t do anything. It has happened to a friend of mine as well.

    Strong points:
    Very good hardware support.
    Easy to install apps (that are supported).

  6. I miss knowing what the fuck is going on. Good thing they didn’t remove the terminal at least.. which is where I felt most at home.
    When I turned on encryption the bootup time was tripled and the HDD worked at half speed. And whenever something’s wrong, some pale, important mac user with an iPhone implanted up his ass will tell you to “repair the disc permissions.”
    OS X users should have a look at their own cult before lashing out at win XP SP2 users.

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