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Open-Source Books



As the open source community grows every day, new ideas and initiatives come to fill in the areas where the concept was never heard before. The most recent "open initiatives" refer to publishing, where Prentice Hall, a technical and academic book publisher, has embraced the open-source philosophy for a new series of books.

Mark Taub, an editor-in-chief within Prentice Hall, announced that six books are to be released this year. The material of the books may be copied and updated under the strictures of the Open Publication License, and Prentice Hall will release electronic versions on the Web.

"We sell a lot of books into the open-source community, so it's natural for us to want to contribute to the open-source community," Taub said. And for business reasons, "it's good to curry favour with the open-source community. We think giving access to electronic books will potentially spur sales of printed editions."

The move still stands against the general trend, represented by the efforts of some media companies that are pushing for as much control as possible over their content. Still, except for Prentice Hall, one of the competitors, O'Reilly and Associates, has released several books under the Open Publication License or the related Gnu's Not Unix (GNU) Free Documentation License.

Prentice Hall's first three books are about the use of the now-discontinued eCos operating system from Red Hat; the Snort intrusion-detection software; and programming on Linux systems.

"If they meet our expectations, we'll grow the series to nine or as many as 12 next year, and more the following year," Taub said.

The series bears the name of Perens, the primary author of the Open Source Definition and an outspoken advocate of the collaborative programming movement.

There are options in the Open Publication License that can be invoked to prohibit redistribution, but Prentice Hall isn't using either of those options, Perens said.



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