OT - Research on LFS

Marc Heerdink marc at koelkast.net
Thu Mar 14 12:23:22 PST 2002

Op vr 08-03-2002, om 09:59 schreef Jeroen Coumans:
> Sure I still want it! I'll rephraze my original questions here.

Sorry for the late reply, been very very busy during the past week :)
But let's get on to the questions.

> I'm doing a research of LFS for my studies (Arts & Cultures at the 
> university of Maastricht). I'm focusing on the differences between a 
> regular book (which you buy at a store or rent at a library) and the 
> so-called "e-book". I'm not sure what the e-book is, but I do know that 
> LFS is an example of how it could look. 
> 1. Could you describe how you started with the book, what interested you 
> in it? 

I first heard about the LFS book when it was still an LFS-HOWTO and it
came with my first-ever linux distribution (slack 3.x IIRC). I quickly
glanced over it (being a real Linux n00b at that time) and I figured I
wouldn't ever be able to complete it successfully.

Time passed by, and after nearly six months I accidently "found" the
www.linuxfromscratch.org website. I first didn't realize that this was
the same as what I'd seen before, but I was interested so I started
reading. Two weeks later I gathered enough courage to start my first
ever LFS build (tm). I can't remember the exact version number, but it
was before the version that Jesse calls "is getting usable" :)

Luckily enough, I didn't run into any major troubles and with the help
of lots of time I was able to get my first LFS system running (there
weren't many hints back then, just one for X, one for NFS and maybe some
that I've forgotten about :). I was quite happy in the beginning, but
after a month or so I started to get annoying about some stuff so I
planned to redo everything. That was the moment that I first subscribed
to lfs-discuss (which is now lfs-dev), so then I started to get involved
in LFS.

After that, the period between two LFS builds started to get shorter and
shorter and I reported more and more on the mailinglist and I started to
give support on the lfs-apps mailinglist. The first "real" contribution
to the LFS project was a hint, although I can't remember which one :/

After that, I first started using the CVS version of the book, then I
downloaded the latest CVS sources myself to make sure I had the latest
version, then I started looking into the bugtracking system we had at
that time, then I started fixing some bugs by posting solutions to the
mailinglists, then I offered to become a book editor and here I am :)

I've been out for a while, from march 2001 - september 2001 IIRC so I
didn't work on the book during that period. Now I'm back and I'm editing
the book again (at least, when I can find the time to do it).

> 2. What do you think about the format and distribution of the book? Do 
> you think it's practical if LFS would be printed? What gains/losses 
> would there be? What are the biggest advantages of not having it 
> printed?

The biggest advantage is the use of hyperlinks. The second-biggest
advantage is ease of bugfixing.

I think a printed LFS book would only work if supported by online
installation instructions. We still have special commands for many
packages (touches, cats, seds, patches etc) that are specific for that
version of the package. A general description of getting an LFS system
up and running, the advantages and disadvantages of such a system and an
explanation of the idea behind concepts used in the book can well be
distributed in hardcopy, but that derives so much from the current LFS
book that it would require writing an entirely seperate book.

> 3. In traditional books, there's a big difference between reader and 
> writer. With LFS, it's a blurry line. Do you think of yourself as 
> reader or writer?


I hardly read the book, I only read it to spot bugs when I'm in a
bug-hunting mood. When I use the book to build an LFS system, I mainly
copy-paste all instructions and use my own packages/instructions where

When I edit the book, I fix a single bug so I make a single modification
to the book. Writing a book involves more than just fixing many single

> If you're interested, I'd be willing to explain some more on where my 
> research is going to, and perhaps even post it when it's ready.

I'd be interested :) Is it going to be in Dutch or English?

- A Cow.

Marc Heerdink <marc at koelkast.net>

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