I think the DOC project is of supreme importance to Linux right now.
I've just had a rather drastic object lesson, helping a friend to
install Linux on his office box. He is generally very clueful about
computers (hacking OS/2 and MVS (and boy, you do need a clue or fif*
for THAT system... it's a screaming horror from the dinosaur pits), and
you only have to explain things to him exactly once), but has no
experience of UNIX at all, and no access to any up - and running
system with manpages and tutorials.
He got the system up from the SLS 0.99pl6 disks in a matter of hours,
and got things working, sort of. Then, when he wanted to start
configuring the system the way he wanted it, he ran into all the
usual problems we've probably all had when we learned UNIX, or
UNIX system administration, or setting up Linux, only he got it all at
Typical problems included: How do I clear the screen upon logout?
(Looking for the keyword trap in the bash manpage is not the first
obvious thing which comes to mind, for example.) How do I make the ALT
- Gr - key work under XFree 1.2? (That was a tough one, because
somebody apparently left out the Alt_R definition out of the XFree
compilation, apparently... you need two calls to xmodmap, one to bind
keycode 93 to Alt_R, and the other one to bind Alt_R to Mod2, because of
the way that xmodmap first parses and then executes its input.)
Without somebody to answer his questions and do some of the
actual work for him (me ;-), he'd have been lost, because the
documentation with SLS is scattered, incomplete, sometimes wrong,
and certainly not in the form of a tutorial (also, he doesn't have
access to Usenet).
At the moment, I can honestly recommend Linux only to people who are
quite familiar with the UNIX philosophy, which is obviously not a happy
state of affairs.
So, what is there to do? In the best Linux tradition: if there's
something which needs to be done, do it! Join the DOC channel of
the Linux activist mailing list (the FAQ and the recently posted
DOC project manifesto explain how to), and start out by proofreading
other people's stuff, for example. Volunteer your services, they'll
be very gladly accepted.
The joy of engineering is to find a straight line on a double