The Linux Documentation Project
home  |   HOWTOs  |   Guides  |   FAQs  |   man pages  |   Linux Gazette  |   LinuxFocus

LDP Weekly News

by David Merrill

Announcing the Lampadas Project

We are happy to announce the official launch of the Lampadas Project, a new documentation production system based on the LDP Database.

The LDP Database is a database driven web site designed to manage document meta-data. The current LDP Database allows LDP staff to edit, manage, and maintain the document collection, as well as authors' information. We have been using the database to update and manage information for about a year. The database has been growing and evolving, and it is ready for the next stage of development. That next stage is is the evolution to the Lampadas Project.

The Lampadas Project will extend the LDP Database in four ways:

  • by adding the capability to mirror documents from other projects seamlessly, converting them all into DocBook XML;
  • by supporting collaboration between authors, editors, and readers with features such as document annotation and online editing;
  • by expanding and automating our publication system, standardizing it around DocBook XML; and
  • by generalizing the LDP's code so it can stand as a project as its own. This way the code can be used by any other project that needs a flexible, powerful document authoring, management and publication system.

The Goals of Lampadas

The Linux Documentation Project writes, manages, edits and publishes documentation in many source formats, from hundreds of authors, into many output formats, in dozens of languages. Lampadas will assist all of those tasks.

Lampadas will provide a web interface for authors to easily write documentation and for LDP staff to easily manage the document collection. Lampadas will be a very powerful publication system, and more powerful than any currently available in the Free Software/Open Source world. It will offer features oriented toward authors as well as the reader, such as document annotation.

Lampadas will give us the ability to mirror hundreds or thousands of additional documents from any number of individual authors. Some examples of documents that are candidates for Lampadas include KDE and Gnome documentation, Internet RFCs, the Jargon File, and the many excellent manuals from the GNU Project.

The LDP's goal for its own Lampadas database is to be a one-stop shop for all Linux documentation. Whether or not the LDP is involved in its writing, a document will be available in our Lampadas database as long as the authors do not object. Any document that is released under a license allowing free redistribution and derivative works can be included.

Not only do we hope to mirror KDE, Gnome and other Free documentation, but we hope that some of the technology being developed for Lampadas will make its way into other end-user help systems, such as Gnome and KDE's help browsers.

Lampadas offers (or will offer) the following features:

For Authors

  • Meta-data Management: Lampadas already provides complete meta-data management for documents without meta-data capabilities.
  • Complete DocBook Support: Authors who write in DocBook SGML or XML can make full use of the power of DocBook for their documentation. It has complete DocBook support.
  • Simple Online Editing: It also provides online editing in its own simple, easy to use text format, WikiText. If you can write a Wiki page, you can write documentation in Lampadas.

    WikiText is not just any text format. It provides the simplicity of plain text, a bit more power with a few more tags, or the full power of DocBook.

  • Format Agnostic: You will not have to use WikiText to edit your document online. You can edit your document online whether in plain text, DocBook, LinuxDoc, WikiText, or Texinfo. These are the formats dominant at the LDP. Support for additional formats will be added eventually.

    Lampadas supports any format the author is comfortable writing in. Rather than forcing authors to standardize on a tool, Lampadas supplies the meta-data shortcomings of the author's choice.

For Programmers

  • The publication process generates an enormous DocBook XML data repository, containing all man pages, Texinfo manuals, free books, HOWTOs, Guides, and FAQs. This XML repository, or database, will be available to programmers building other help systems based on XML, such as KDE, Gnome and ScrollKeeper.

Getting Involved, or For More Information

If you would like to get involved with Lampadas, there is plenty of work to go around. The highly modular architecture lends itself to distributed development. Because some architectural decisions are still being made, this is a good time to get in on the ground floor.

Our mailing list is (subscribers only). To join the list, send a blank email to

I have put an early development version online at Feel free to drop by and kick the virtual tires. However, please do not send bug reports at this time! Any bugs you find, we probably already know about.

I have also placed some of my development notes in the "Development" section of my personal home page at

Why Lampadas?

Fans of Frank Herbert's Dune series will recognize Lampadas as the name of the Bene Gesserit teaching planet, which plays a role in the final book, Chapterhouse: Dune. Before the planet can be destroyed by hordes of Honored Matres, Reverend Mother Lucia orders the planet to share Other Memory, two by two then four by four, until all the students hold within them the composite knowledge and memories of the entire planet. After the planet is annihilated by the Honored Matres, the precious knowledge is carried back to the Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse by the lone holder of the precious cargo, Rebecca.

Herbert apparently took the name from the city of Lampadas, which was an ancient seat of learning and scholarship. Also, the word lampadas is the accusative form of the word "Torch" in ancient Greek.

In all of these senses, Lampadas seems an appropriate name for this project, which is created to facilitate sharing information from many people and many sources, and disseminating it widely to others.

New Documents

  • Kernel Analysis HOWTO
    This document tries to explain some things about the Linux Kernel, such as the most important components, how they work, and so on. This HOWTO should help prevent the reader from needing to browse all the kernel source files searching for the"right function," declaration, and definition, and then linking each to the other.
    Version 0.5, Robert Arcomano (Author)

  • The Mosix HOWTO
    This document gives a brief description to Mosix, a software package that turns a network of GNU/Linux computers into a computer cluster. Along the way, some background to parallel processing is given, as well as a brief introduction to programs that make special use of Mosix's capabilities.
    Version 0.15, Kris Buytaert (Author)

Updated Documents

Unmaintained Documents

These documents have been abandoned by their maintainers and many of them have not been updated in some time. If you're willing to become the maintainer for one of them, please join the LDP discussion list at and post a message indicating your interest.

About the LDP

The Linux Documentation Project is developing free, high quality documentation for the GNU/Linux operating system. This includes the creation of HOWTOs and Guides, and collaboration with other documentation groups.

If you've always wanted to help Linux reach Total World Domination(tm), but you're not a programmer, there's still something you can do. Help the LDP!

The LDP keeps a page of resources for authors at Contributions are always welcome.

For more LDP Weekly News, go to

home  |   HOWTOs  |   Guides  |   FAQs  |   man pages  |   Linux Gazette  |   LinuxFocus
Last Modified: 2002-04-15 |