MySQL Documentation and Debian/Ubuntu

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We’ve got a lot of queries recently on the MySQL docs team address about the documentation (particularly man pages) for MySQL on Debian/Ubuntu. The source of the original problem was reported as a Debian bug. The assumption from the reading of the license in this instance is that you are not allowed to distribute MySQL documentation unless you’ve asked first, and that the documentation is not released under the GPL license. The original license was misunderstood in this respect. In fact, the license as originally quoted in that bug does allow you to provide the documentation if you are providing the MySQL software. In addition, regardless of how you interpret the license, all of our documentation, including installable man pages, has been available on http://dev.mysql.com/doc. You can find online HTML, offline HTML, PDF, CHM and the man pages for all of our reference manuals (on a version by version basis), along with the main HTML/PDF formats for all of the remaining documentation. We have never tried to limit the availability of the documentation (that’s why we provide it in so many formats).However, as soon as this issue was reported on to us by the folks at Debian we agreed with our legal department to put the man pages under a GPL license. This affects only the man pages, but gets round the misunderstanding above by allowing the man pages to be distributed under the same GPL license as the software. Why did we only change our man page license?MySQL documentation is updated and released very often, in fact as oftenas ten times per day. Allowing anyone to create static copies of anarbitrary documentation release would lead to many outdated copies onthe ‘Net. This is bad for users doing Google searches for MySQLdocumentation, and bad for us (we’ve seen complaints about “our” 5.0.0Manual being badly outdated when MySQL 5.1.20 was out). We appreciateanyone mirroring the MySQL Dev Zone which contains all MySQLdocumentation.So where does that leave the man pages in Debian/Ubuntu? I’m pleased to say that the new 5.0.51-1 package for MySQL that has gone into the latest Debian release (actually, in December). That means that MySQL and the corresponding man pages should appear already in the latest Debian “unstable” branch, and the next major Debian release should include everything you need. Thanks to Christian Hammers (Debian) and Norbert Tretkowski (Debian) for their help on getting this all sorted!