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Status of my book

The wait for Debian sarge was long and painful for me, because I was trying hard to synchronise the publication of my Debian book with it, and much to my own surprise, the book was done before sarge was ready, and I had to wait. In the end, the tome left the presses only a little more than 24 hours after our release managers announced Debian 3.1 in July 2005, bundled with the second release of the official DVD, 3.1r0a. Since then, the volume has been reviewed numerous times and praised by many readers. I was especially honoured to find the title in the top ten list of most favourably reviewed books by one of my most respected reviewers, Richard Bejtlich.

We are now approaching the release of Debian etch, version number 4.0, and a lot of stuff has been added or changed in Debian. I have received more than 150 emails since the etch freeze announcement, asking about an updated edition for etch, and while I am most gratious for all the feedback (and can't deny a certain amount of pride), I have to disappoint my readers, at least for now. I have not had the time to update my text, and thus cannot synchronise a new edition with the release of etch.

There are a number of reasons: first, shortly after the publication of the original edition, I suffered from several physical problems, which in the end all pointed to severe muscle deformations in my back from years of wrong posture sitting at the desk. Now, one and a half years after the first symptoms appeared, I've been through numerous therapies and even though the net result is positive, I am not over the problems yet. Thus, I still try to minimise the time spent on a computer, and getting a second edition of the book out would achieve quite the opposite.

Second, I am busy with my Ph.D. research, so I cannot work on the book much. It has been suggested to me to allocate minimal resources to an update, getting the text ready for etch and postponing new content to another edition. However, I would feel uncomfortable doing that.

My book's to-do list is growing and there are many new topics which I would like to cover in the next edition (for instance: fonts, xen, more packaging topics, including modules, kernel patches, pbuilder, and packaging with version control systems). Thus, with the release of a new edition, I want to provide not only an updated version, but also one with enough content to give a fair return for people's money. I have always thought that updated-but-no-new-content editions are ripping the customers off, so I don't want to go into that direction.

I am thus currently looking at the relase of the second edition together with Debian lenny, the Debian release following etch. I am looking forward to much more feedback between now and then.

NP: Solar Project / Force Majeure