[kwlug-disc] what would you pay for good kernel documentation?

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Sun Jun 6 18:12:02 EDT 2010

On Sat, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:45 PM, Robert P. J. Day <rpjday at crashcourse.ca>wrote:

>  i'm going to take that beginner kernel programming content and turn
> it into an actual online *course*.  following the model of my earlier
> kernel newbie column, it will start from scratch and there will be one
> "lesson" approximately every week, each lesson covering the next
> logical topic in sequence, the goal being that, at the end of, say,
> six months, someone will at least have a solid grasp of the
> *fundamentals* of kernel programming.
>  how this would be different from other sites is that it would be an
> actual *course*, totally hands-on, with code to write and modules to
> build and load, and each lesson would have a comments section so
> people "taking" the course could leave feedback and ask questions and
> i could fix any glitches quickly.
>  that would seem to be a differentiator -- it wouldn't be just online
> writing, it would be an official *course*.  and it wouldn't be
> available all at once, simply because i want to go back and rewrite
> and bring things up to date so releasing a new lesson about every week
> seems like a reasonable approach.  and how would i monetize this?
>  i'm thinking that it could be clear from the beginning that, say,
> the first month's lessons would be free, after which you would
> subscribe to the rest of the course for some reasonable amount like
> $39.  if you didn't think the first month was worth it, you walk away
> and you've lost nothing.  if you were enjoying it, you pay the money
> and complete the course.  (there's no bait and switch here -- it would
> be clear that there would be a subscription fee after the first
> month.)
>  i have to admit, given how people in some of the other forums were
> freaking out over a proposed amount of five or 10 dollars just for
> documentation, $39 might drive them right into a fainting spell.  but
> the difference now is, it's a well-defined product (a *course*) that
> they're *purchasing*.  they get to test drive it for a month for free,
> so they have that long to make up their minds.  and anyone who thinks
> $39 is somehow excessive is, of course, always welcome to go register
> for a similar course elsewhere for the standard $400-500/day that
> typical high-tech training costs.
>  does this sound more reasonable?  now i have a fixed product, and it
> has a known cost, and it will be for sale.  and if i try it and it
> crashes and burns entirely, well, i'll know that it's not a viable
> business model.  but does it at least sound more doable and sellable?
>  thanks to everyone for the feedback so far.

Since I am not into that market segment, I can't tell if your plan will
succeed or not.
However, here are points to ponder, and may help you refine your idea. You
need to answer them for your own plan, not necessarily for this list.

I find that weekly online course format has pros, but also some cons. For
example, for
the instructor, it is mind draining for the prep time and then for the time
to teach it.
For the students, it is a commitment at a set time slot.

1. Is there really a market for kernel newbies?

2. Who are kernel newbies anyway? People who want a career coding for the
kernel? Or someone who is already an embedded systems developer, and needs
it for a specific project at their work place? Or just people thinking that
Linux is cool, and they want to learn how to write drivers (I was such a
person once). If they want a career doing it, are they willing to pay to get

3. What is the background of these newbies? Are they programming newbies
too? Do they at least know C?

4. What alternate avenues do such people have? Does searching Google get
them what they want? Are there printed books available? Are there DVD
courses? Online video courses?

5. What do these avenues cost? Can you price competitively?

There is an online site where you can publish for-pay tutorials. It is at
I notice there is no "Linux" under their Software drop down list. Maybe
there is an opportunity there. This will allow people to get the "course" at
their own pace on their own time.

Maybe a combined approach: first establish a reputation teaching online,
then take it Lynda for the next step.
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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