FLOSS Manuals

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FLOSSManuals: Introduction

FLOSS Manuals

FLOSS Manuals is a group of dedicated volunteers and professionals dedicated to providing quality manuals about how to use free sofware. We are a not-for-profit foundation established in Amsterdam in 2006. We are also a website (wiki), a set of custom-designed tools released under the GPL, and a community of free documentation writers.

Presentation of Floss Manuals

What we do 

With 60% of all websites running on free software, why do only 1.7% of all computer users have free software on their desktops? The answer is simple and the Free Software Foundation has said it already :

"The biggest deficiency in free operating systems is not in the software—it is the lack of good free manuals"

FLOSS Manuals exists to provide this information to anyone, for free.

We do this through our website, which is a wiki. If you are used to Wikipedia you might think FLOSS Manuals doesn't look much like a wiki. You would be right. However, the website is in fact a wiki, it is based on the very nice software called TWiki. Since we are a wiki you can read and contribute to the manuals.


There are three basic parts to the FLOSS Manuals website - READ, WRITE, and REMIX.

In the READ section you can read manuals online or download them via PDF.  Here we list many manuals on how to use various free software packages and perform other critical functions such as avoiding censorship on the Internet. They are organised into software categories. Each of the manuals will help you get started and in general they cover the following:

  1. What does the software do?
  2. What does the software not do?
  3. Introduction to the software's context
  4. How to install the software
  5. How to configure the most important elements
  6. A basic introduction to the interface
  7. Using the software's most important features with hands-on step by step tutorials
  8. Where to go for more help

Through the WRITE section you can write manuals. This is the 'wiki' part of the site. You need to register for an account and then you can start contributions. Registration is very simple--just like signing up for most social networking sites--and we require it for many reasons:

  • So that we can credit you with the changes you make. Material on FLOSS Manuals is licensed so that it can be used by anyone for any purpose. However we believe it is important you get the credit for the contributions you make so registration using your full name helps this process.
  • To help build community. People who have some kind of persistent identity--even if they don't offer personal information--can start to form online relationships and work better with other contributors
  • To cut down on spam (irrelevant and flippant postings). The registration process is a small barrier for people with a sincere desire to contribute, but a bit hurdle for those with malicious or exploitative intent. 

The REMIX section is the area which is undergoing the most on-going development. In the REMIX section you can actually make your own manuals from existing content. We ask authors to write each chapter in each manuals so it is "self contained" and therefore people can re-use them in other contexts. Hence we have built tools so you can remix manuals specific to your own requirements.

In REMIX you can drag chapters from existing manuals onto a template for your own manual and change the chapter names and their look-and-feel through the browser. You can then download your newly remixed manual as HTML (in a zip or tar file), which is good for including on CDs/USB sticks or reading offline. Alternatively, you can export the remixed manual to a indexed PDF. Lastly, you can include the remixed manual in your own webpage or blog by cutting and pasting 5 lines of HTML.

Printed Manuals

In addition to the online free manuals, you can also buy some of the manuals through our print-on-demand service. We sell these manuals at a small mark-up. All money raised through selling a manual is put directly back into the development of that specific manual. Remember, you can always get the manuals for free from the FLOSS Manuals website.

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