Archive for December, 2007

Is it possible to have training materials that are developed in partnership with the community, available under a CC license, AND make those same materials available through formal training providers? We’re trying to find out at Canonical with our Ubuntu Desktop Course.

Billy Cina @Canonical has been making steady progress towards the goal of having a full portfolio of training options available for commercial users of Ubuntu. Companies that want to ensure that their staff are rigorously trained, and individuals who want to present their Ubuntu credentials in a formal setting, need to have a certified and trusted framework for skills assurance.

Most of the work we are doing in this line is following the traditional model, where content is funded as a private investment, and the content is then licensed to authorized training providers who sell courses to their local markets. These courses are usually sold to companies that have adopted a platform or tool and want to ensure a consistent level of skills across the organization. Many companies are moving to Ubuntu for both desktop and server, so demand is hotting up for this capability. We have a system builder course, and a system administrator course are now available from authorized training providers.

But we wanted also to try a different approach, that might be more accessible to the Ubuntu community and might also result in even higher quality materials. We think the key ingredients are:

  • Use of an open format (Docbook)
  • Content source available in a public Bazaar repository (here)
  • Licensing under open terms (CC-BY-NC-SA)
  • Working with the Ubuntu doc-team, who have a wealth of experience

The license is copyleft and non-commercial, so that it is usable by any person for their own education and edification with the requirement that commercial use will involve some contribution back to the core project.

It’s already a 400 page book which gives a great overview of the Ubuntu desktop experience, a very valuable resource for folks who are new to Linux and Ubuntu.

We are getting to the point where we can publish a “daily PDF” which will have the very latest version (“trunk”) compiled overnight. So anyone has free access to the very latest version, and of course anyone can bzr branch the content to make changes that suit them.

If you want to have a look at the latest content, try this:

Type:

bzr launchpad-login <your-lp-username
bzr branch lp:ubuntu-desktop-course

The source is huge (712MB, lots of images in a large book), so grab a cup of tea, and when you get back you will have the latest version of the content, hot and well-brewed :-) This is a great set of materials if you are offering informal training. Corrections and additions would be most welcome, just push your branch up to Launchpad and request a merge of your changes.

The good folks at Dell have added DVD playback capability to the image that they preinstall for folks who buy Dell computers with Ubuntu.

Multimedia and DVD are often cited as the biggest things missing from the typical consumer’s expectations of a “fully working system”. Ideally, we could deliver a great multimedia experience in a free software stack but the US patent landscape makes that impossible, so for the moment this requires proprietary software.  My hope is that the content industry will realise that DRM and playback restrictions are harmful to their own interests, and that EMI’s decision to sell MP3′s leads to a broader movement away from restrictive technologies.

So, thanks and congrats to Dell for taking care of this for their customers, there’s one more reason to give someone close to you a virus-resistant, spyware-resistant Ubuntu-based Dell for 2008 :-)