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Raspberry Pi Gets an Open Source Educational Manual

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Education 56

Last year a group of UK teachers started working on a Creative Commons licensed teaching manual for the Raspberry Pi. That work has produced the Raspberry Pi Education Manual which is available at the Pi Store or here as a PDF. From Raspberry Pi: "The manual is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 unported licence, which is a complicated way of saying that it’s free for you to download, copy, adapt and use – you just can’t sell it. You’ll find chapters here on Scratch, Python, interfacing, and the command line. There’s a group at Oracle which is currently working with us on a faster Java virtual machine (JVM) for the Pi, and once that work’s done, chapters on Greenfoot and Geogebra will also be made available – we hope that’ll be very soon."

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56 comments

FOR SALE! (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42456439)

Empty hard bound books. They come with a FREE document printed inside!

Re:FOR SALE! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42456669)

This is your own penis:

8===D

This is my penis:

8=======D

And this, of course, is a NIGGER PENIS:

8================D

Any questions?

Re:FOR SALE! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42458707)

all kidding aside, it's a serious point. Non-commercial FOSS licenses are quite bad.

In theory they are clear enough, but in practice they are a legal nightmare. For example, if I get paid to teach a specific course, can I use the manual and give away copies of the manual to all the students?

What if I'm a third party consultant the students are paying the school to take the course?

What if a grad student is "paid" out of their scholarship agreement to teach a certain number of lab hours?

Re:FOR SALE! (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459745)

You'd be fine giving away the manuals even though you're getting paid to teach. As long as you're not charging for the manual, then you're good to go.

Re:FOR SALE! (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460811)

because noone would ever claim that part of the money you charge is for the manuals...

sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless toHR (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42456469)

sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless to HR and you better hope you can past them to tech guys who like stuff like this.

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (5, Insightful)

ddd0004 (1984672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457537)

Here's a tip. Don't live strictly based on the demands of someone else.

If you want to learn about Raspberry Pi, here's one method that cost you nothing. Don't learn about it and then throw a fit when someone else doesn't hand you a large bag of money for learning it. Learn about something that you like to learn about.

If you can apply it to a career, that's even better.

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (1)

Noginbump (146238) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457991)

Whare are mod points when you need them?

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42459627)

i got you covered there +1 insightful...

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42461729)

Speaking of which, I very rarely get mod points these days. Back in, say, 2005, I could get a bunch in every 2 weeks, now it's like 8 weeks.

It could be though that the pool of active users within which the points are distributed is now much larger.

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42465259)

I'm a manager, you insensitive clod.

Re:sounds cool to bad it's not college = useless t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42465455)

You sir - are doomed.

I have a fairly well paying IT job. I enjoy many parts of it. While my friends are still paying for their college, I have my job based on things I enjoyed learning about - basically anything technical.

I built troubleshooting skills, learned the things I wanted to learn, and when people were asking questions - I had answers. Even if the questions weren't related only to the things I was supposed to know.

Learn how to learn, and learn for fun.

I make twice what some of my college educated friends make, and I have only completed high school (and some CompTIA certs over a decade ago)

FP NIGGA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42456703)

a Alosing battle; confirmed that *BSD OpenBSD wanker Theo for election, I FreeBSD showed you need to succeed ofone single puny [klerck.org]?

Raspberry shills? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42456765)

So who's approving all these Raspberry Pi stories? I can understand all the tiresome Google, Apple, M$, not-so-GNU/Linux stories submitted by fanboys, shills, and haters of each company or platform. For the life of me, I can't understand what's all this fuzz about something that's even less successful the late, unlamanted OLPC. And nobody seems to want to read them. Comments typically go > 100. Hell, my troll will probably receive the most comments from people trying to explain why the Raspberry isn't worth a raspberry.

Capcha: infamous

Re:Raspberry shills? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42461927)

Then submit a better story.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42456877)

Looks excellent to me - noticed a pic which said 'placeholder' though, shouldn't this have been removed prior to 'publishing'?

Epub (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42457041)

Could we get an eink friendly format? I understand that technical manuals are not designed for reflowable text, however I would like to read a manual on my Nook and then check diagrams on my laptop.

Re:Epub (2)

mckorr (1274964) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460635)

Grab a copy of calibre. It's free, and can convert pdf to epub or mobi.

Khan Academy Lite (5, Informative)

mbuimbui (1130065) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457063)

If you are looking to get free educational materials on a Raspberry Pi you should check out: http://kalite.adhocsync.com/ [adhocsync.com] . Intern Jamie Alexander did a fabulous job getting the entire Khan Academy site including setting up accounts, watching videos, and doing exercise problems working on a Raspberry Pi. You can read about it here: http://jamiealexandre.com/blog/2012/12/12/what-i-did-at-khan-academy-khanberry-pi-ka-lite/ [jamiealexandre.com]

Re:Khan Academy Lite (4, Informative)

jamalex (2806953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457197)

Thanks for the link! We're working on a package to put into the RPi store, to make it even easier -- stay tuned for more soon!

For 8yr+: Scratch, Python and Bash in that order. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42457135)

The last python chapter is a actually useful with some GPIO stuff with python.
Just in case anyone else was curious.

It's Non-Commercial (CC-NC) therefore useless (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42457269)

Universities are commercial entities it is unlikely any institution of higher education could legally use this material.

CC-NC ruins everything.

Makes no sense to me (1, Insightful)

UBfusion (1303959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459161)

Could you please elaborate why private universities would not use any free educational materials? Is it somehow prohibited by US laws?

Wouldn't such a "commercial entity" like to cut a significant cost by opting to teach e.g. LibreOffice instead of MSOffice?

Re:Makes no sense to me (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460497)

Because the licensing terms do not allow them to use it.
Did you read the post you were replying to?

Re:Makes no sense to me (0)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42463891)

Non-Commercial licensed work is not 'free as in speach'. It is a zero-cost license with significant restrictions on who can use it.
LibreOffice is under a 'free as in speech' license, as are many other textbooks, as such it is already heavily used by universities around the globe.

Re:It's Non-Commercial (CC-NC) therefore useless (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42459201)

All I can say is that you need to read the actual license. NC does not mean what you think it means.

Re:It's Non-Commercial (CC-NC) therefore useless (0)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42463843)

Providing learning in return for payment is a commercial purpose, so is explicitly prohibited by the the CC NC license.
Even if the school is free at the point of use, and run as a non-profit charity, so long as they are eventually paid for the learning delivery it cannot include NC works.

Open Source? Not really, I think. (2, Informative)

dido (9125) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457679)

CC-BY-NC-SA is not open source, not by the traditional definition of open source. The NC part of the license is the problem. Open Source licenses should permit commercial redistribution, and this is in fact part of the first criterion [opensource.org] given in the definition of an open source license:

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

(emphasis added) The NC portion restricts selling the manual. It isn't a free cultural work [freedomdefined.org] either for the same reason.

Re:Open Source? Not really, I think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42467151)

This is one of the problems of the Free / Open source ideas. Words can mean different things to different people. "This is not an OSI approved license" can be a factual statemenet. "CC-BY-NC-SA is not open source" is subjective.

I hate to agree with RMS, but Open source really isn't a good label if the rights of the license are your main objective. Not that "Free Software" is much better, I'm just pointing out that this is a difficult issue. So far, to my knowledge, no one has come up with a good label for Free Open source software (FOSS will work as Jargon, but to non-linux/bsd crowd it doesn't mean much.)

Nostalgia but relevant. (4, Insightful)

gukin (14148) | about a year and a half ago | (#42457687)

Right now, the RP has a rudamentary X-server but a full ssh server and GCC. It's capable of so much more, just like Linux was 15 years ago. There's hints of what it can do, rendering 1920x1080 video and some VERY capable openGL stuff ( Quake3 at respectable rates) but at present, it's a $35 device hiding a lot of Gee Whiz. Sure any Android device can connect and run some really cool apps but RP can do such more, has the same latent capabilities Linux did, the same capabilities that captured the imaginations of so many, the capabilities that have brought Linux to where it is today.

RP is a year old now but it's in a position where it isn't going to get stale, where a 300MHz P2 and a 3DFx Banshee card would be pretty awesome. Sure it won't run Crysis but it's a wholey remarkable piece of hardware and one that does or should capture the curiosity of every Linux afficianado over the last 15 years and the attention of anyone who has gotten excited about Linux in the last 15 years.

Android is as nearly locked up as IOS but RP is as wide open as . . . GNU linux.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (2)

rephlex (96882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42458463)

RP is a year old now but it's in a position where it isn't going to get stale

This also appears to be Eben Upton's view and since he's one of the founders of the Raspberry Pi Foundation this can reasonably be assumed to be the official view of the Foundation. They seem to think they can wait until 2015 to release a successor to the Raspberry Pi, see here: http://www.itpro.co.uk/644701/raspberry-pi-founder-has-plans-for-a-sequel-in-2015 [itpro.co.uk] .

They are kidding themselves. The unexpectedly huge success of the Raspberry Pi has ensured that it will have competitors well before 2015. I think 2013 could well be the year the Raspberry Pi is overtaken and largely forgotten about. Why would anyone bother with the Pi when something faster with more RAM becomes widely available for a similar price? Especially if it turns out to be much less buggy than the Pi, which it most likely will do.

Also, the Raspberry Pi Foundation had better get the much promised educational side of things into full swing this year. They've achieved next to nothing on that front to date. They blame the unexpected success of the Pi for delaying this, which is a ridiculous excuse. The Raspberry Pi can survive mostly on hype for only some time, if there aren't substantial and timely improvements in all areas then people will lose interest and move on.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459015)

given the price point i can't see anyone contesting them too hotly.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

rephlex (96882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459635)

As others have mentioned recently, the price of the Raspberry Pi is an illusion as you need a power supply, HDMI cable, and probably a case before it can be used. Those requirements add to the price and can't be ignored when making comparisons.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460793)

sure, but it's still not a very attractive price point to wage war over. if someone else comes along and cuts their margin to the bone they might beat out the pi for power around the same price but how big do you think that market is?

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

rephlex (96882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42469759)

Around a million Raspberry Pis have been sold. That's a pretty significantly sized market.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42465569)

Motorola charger at Amazon: 4.30 including shipping, HDMI cable from monoprice at $1.97

http://www.amazon.com/Motorola-Micro-USB-Home-Travel-Charger/dp/B004EYSKM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357241441&sr=8-1&keywords=motorola+usb+charger

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10240&cs_id=1024008&p_id=3872&seq=1&format=2

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

rephlex (96882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42469663)

It doesn't seem like that charger is truly suitable for the Raspberry Pi. A great many aren't, including some that are listed as being recommended for the Pi. Many of these unsuitable chargers actually work perfectly with devices that draw more current than the Pi.

Here's what one reviewer on Amazon says about that Motorola charger:

"I bought this USB Power Adapter to power a Raspberry Pi. Once a USB Keyboard, Mouse, and ethernet was plugged into the Raspberry Pi the power from this adapter dipped below recommended specs and it would lock up. It charges my cell phone fine though. Search elsewhere for an adapter for the Raspberry Pi."

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42461483)

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is an NPO. Their goal is not to sell shit loads of Raspberry Pis and rake in money for shareholders, but to promote a platform for children to learn about computers and hopefully as a result increase the number of competent programmers and otherwise IT literate people joining the workforce. This is why increasing the specs of the Pi is not relevant. They are NOT in an arms race with other hardware manufacturers, and changing the platform often would just mean more work for them, and it would probably fragment the platform, since everyone would have a different version and newer software would not work on the older models unless it ignored the features of the newer boards.

I don't think they will be losing sleep about "competitors" releasing cheap hardware with which kids can learn how to program computers, since it aligns with their own goal. The fact that there are thousands of enthusiasts out there that want this hardware is really just a bonus for the Pi Foundation, because it means that there will be more software and information for the Pi when they really start pushing them into schools on a large scale. However, we are not the target audience, and I think that even without us, the Pi will have enough support from people who don't just want a cheap media center and enough power to run any program all but the most talented and ambitious young computer scientists will be writing as they learn the basics of programming.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

rephlex (96882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42470011)

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is an NPO. Their goal is not to sell shit loads of Raspberry Pis and rake in money for shareholders, but to promote a platform for children to learn about computers and hopefully as a result increase the number of competent programmers and otherwise IT literate people joining the workforce.

Yes, but what pays for this promotion? Sales of the Raspberry Pi do.

This is why increasing the specs of the Pi is not relevant. They are NOT in an arms race with other hardware manufacturers, and changing the platform often would just mean more work for them, and it would probably fragment the platform, since everyone would have a different version and newer software would not work on the older models unless it ignored the features of the newer boards.

But if you could could get something similar both in function and in price to the Raspberry Pi but with more RAM and a faster processor then why would you buy a Pi instead?

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460513)

Right now, the RP has a rudamentary X-server but a full ssh server and GCC.

Are you sure? I thought the RP ran a pretty recent version of Xorg. That's the complete full fat version of Xorg which runs on desktop Linux.

It's capable of so much more, just like Linux was 15 years ago.

Well... from what I gather, it's capable of running a variety of quality distros now (like Debian and Arch), so it's capable of pretty much what they are, issues of RAM and CPU speed aside.

That said, I agree to an extent.

It's a cheap, easy to use device which combines small size, low power, easy hardware (graphics, USB, network) with low level hardware (GPIO) and minimal faff. From that point of view, there's not been so much commonly available, so that space is yet to be explored.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

makomk (752139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42468629)

The X server is full-fat, but the graphics driver is about the most rudimentary X driver there is - no acceleration, no mode setting, just a framebuffer.

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42462149)

What is the highest OpenGL version that it can support?

Re:Nostalgia but relevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483079)

Wider, actually, as you don't even need to run Linux on the RPi (RiscOS is available, for starters...)

Meh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42458039)

I hate when I have open sores. They tend to bleed or ooze puss. It does taste fairly decent mixed in with ice cream though.

speed power expandability (5, Interesting)

swell (195815) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459115)

This is what we want in our working computers. Not our educational tools.

Long ago, in the days of the Apple ][, there was a computer emulator called the Visible Computer 6502. It was a graphical representation of a 6502 processor along with its registers and IO ports. You could program it in assembly language and watch it execute the code. Top speed was probably about 5 cycles per second, but you could slow it down for a better look at program execution, or you could step thru one cycle at a time.

This was an intimate look at the inner workings of a computer that a 9 year old could appreciate. It gave insights that elude college graduates today.

If someone will use Raspberry Pi to demonstrate this elemental relationship between hardware and software in a visually compelling format, then it will have served a revolutionary purpose and millions will see computers in a new light.

speed power expandability not required

Re:speed power expandability (1)

Aliktren (2704483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459829)

hear hear, I still recall programming in machine language at school and it cemented a lifetime love of technology that powerpoint never could have...

Re:speed power expandability (3, Interesting)

yo303 (558777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460289)

Yes. [ObGeekCred: I wrote Wayne's World for the Gameboy in Z80 assembly and put my picture in as an Easter egg.]

This would be an amazingly revealing tool. If debugging and tracing tools had been a standard thing the whole time for everybody, we would have so many more programmers now, because they let you look inside. It's like when they invented grandfather clocks with windows showing the mechanism: it made for more grandfather clock makers, because more people saw how cool it was to be able to make grandfather clocks.

Further, this needs to be a standard free app on smartphones. More kids are likely to develop for and on their smartphones than for Pi or Arduino. This is much more true in the 3rd world, where many have limited access to PCs while they easily find cheap Android phones.

Once you run it and agree, it turns into a debugging service that traces everything. It runs in a side window and has a slider that runs contiguously between assembly language, through system calls, through full speed. It can slow down any app -- their app -- with stepping, tracing, and breakpoints. It is a virtualizer running on the phone itself.

This tool can easily be developed by a team of ad hoc developers. Imagine that anybody in the world can take apart an app and make a list of when it makes a graphic call, or have it freeze when it makes a file system request, or build timing graphs of various interesting things. This is what builds programmers.

The project needs only a few managers, programmers, marketers, bloggers, braggers, and other passionate people. Building a team of varied people is what will make this work.

Will you help make this happen? Picture that everybody can suddenly take apart all their apps, and see how they work inside. This could really be how things are a year from now. Mail me at j at jth period co

Re:speed power expandability (1)

CamelSpider1000 (2809887) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503113)

What a fantastic idea.

Re:speed power expandability (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42460555)

There's a setpping emulator for PIC microcontrollers which works on Linux. I believe it comes with a graphical front end, but I've never used that part of it.

It sounds quite similar to what you remember except it works for a modern micro which you can still buy, use and program easily.

Very handy, since you can't do a printf on a pic.

Re:speed power expandability (1)

IRGlover (1096317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42462535)

you are thinking of a processor simulator. here is a GPL'd one for the 8085 processor http://sourceforge.net/projects/gnusim8085/ [sourceforge.net] . THere are also others for other chips, including the Z80, just search for 'assembler simulator'. I remember using one at Uni about 12 years ago and it was a very useful tool.

Educational support will make or break the Pi (2, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | about a year and a half ago | (#42459985)

In itself, the Pi is just another small cheap computer. Right now it's got a great lead over other similar devices because of all the fan-publicity (I suspect mostly led by dewey-eyed 40-somethings who remember their teenage programming years on the BBC B and the like). At some point the honeymoon will be over and the Pi will be in a box in the back of the garage with all the other Christmas geek toys that were fun for a week in the holidays.

What will give it life in the educational sphere will be the development of decent educational supporting material. Provide educational material - particularly content that ticks off required elements in the National Curriculum that teachers have to deliver - and you have something will get taken up by thousands of schools.Without it, the Pi will be just another piece of hardware foisted onto teachers that they have to manage and maintain on top of their already busy schedules, that they will get fed up with and dump as soon as they can.

Re:Educational support will make or break the Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42460625)

Yeah, you would think some teachers would write a book or something.

Re:Educational support will make or break the Pi (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#42463819)

mostly led by dewey-eyed 40-somethings who remember their teenage programming years on the BBC B and the like

And what's wrong with that?

Re:Educational support will make or break the Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42466905)

nothing except this is not really the point PIs aims.

It also gives a false sense of security/acceptance/relevance/hyperbole when actually, after all it wasn't being used btu those that needed/wanted to be educated in basic computer programming (albeit not as low level as it could have been conceived - VMs anyone?) .

I've been told dozens of times how great the Pi is but always by those '40 somethings' never by a '14 something'.

I suspect that the Pi will stick about but just not be that relevant.

(or as relevant as 40 somethings wish it could be)

Re:Educational support will make or break the Pi (1)

CamelSpider1000 (2809887) | about a year and a half ago | (#42503039)

I respectfully disagree. As one of those dewey-eyed forty-somethings (there is certainly something in what you say about that demographic) I think the allure of the RP is precisely that it is totally stripped down. This is the computer that an orphan in a backstreet of Hyderabad might acquire from a dumpster - or from a nun handing out a satchel of them to a sea of frantic, outstretched filthy paws - and take home to pore over by the guttering flame of a gaslight (allow me some poetic licence).......and slowly begin to make sense of.......and realise with mounting excitement is in fact an entire computer, not merely a fragment of one. If jaundiced, well-fed, perpetually whining and - let's face it - lazy teachers in clean, brightly lit, centrally heated classrooms in western countries can't be bothered to utilise the RP as a medium for learning - which may (shock horror) require that they first take the trouble to learn something about it themselves - then more shame them. In any case, they will be quickly swept aside and disregarded by the eager and engaged young people who are its true intended users. As to your point regarding the availability of 'educational material' - it is of the very essence and ethos of the RP that no-one is telling you what to do with it, or spoonfeeding its users with glossy, ready-made applications. The RP IS educational material. The RP is a pure learning tool, not a teaching tool. It stands as a rebuke - and a corrective - to the pervasive dogma of modern education, which places knowledge above learning. I would not be at all surprised if it is viewed with suspicion bordering on hostility by our current crop of educationists. It - and the things it represents - threatens their relevance unless they reform. The RP is in the vanguard of - indeed exemplifies - a sea-change that is just beginning in British education, spurred on by Michael Gove's creation of state-funded Free Schools and his overhaul of the National Curriculum, which has been vandalised and subverted by left-wing idealogues over the past thirty or forty years. The RP will facilitate a return to traditinal imperatives of education such as the development of critical thinking faculties; the mastery of logic; the encouragement of deep focus and concentration; experimentation......qualitative aims that were once the bedrock of British education but were abandoned in the headlong pursuit by politicians and social liberals of ever-improving exam results, and which are now making their inevitable Darwinian come-back. The RP poses a simple but enormous challenge to anyone who picks one up: how hungry are you to master this? I am a-tingle to see what deluge of replies it brings forth from our brightest and most motivated young people. The people behind this device may just be in time to save western civilisation by resurrecting and energising the latent intelligence and creativity of our next generation. The generation currently entrusted with educating them, and which has in so many ways signally failed in that sacred duty, should get with the programme or get out of the way.

It's not Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42466215)

The booklet is published under a CC NC license. That means that it's not open source by any definition.

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