Gentoo Logo

Gentoo Linux Documentation Policy


1.  Introduction


The Gentoo Linux Documentation team aspires to create exceptionally professional documentation that is immediately clear and concise to the end user. In order to fulfill this goal, we have very specific rules and guidelines that our documentation must go through prior to dissemination on our website, or elsewhere.

Covered Topics

This policy will cover the following topics:

  • Documentation Project Team Organization
  • Documentation Guidelines
  • Documentation Team Recruitment

2.  Documentation Project Team Organization


The Gentoo Documentation Project Team consists of editors and authors, working on our main documentation and its translations. Like most other Gentoo projects, it is led by a project lead whose additional job is to look after the team and its resources in general (such as focusing on recruitment when necessary and taking final decisions when consensus about doc-related issues cannot be found otherwise).

When the Gentoo Documentation Team launches any subprojects, you will find its mission on our GDP Project Webpage, along with their respective project leads.

Documentation Project Team Members

Every member of the Gentoo Documentation Project must be subscribed to the mailing list. This mailing list will be used to discuss all documentation-related issues. This mailing list is open to all interested parties, developer or not.

Every member of the Gentoo Documentation Project must be part of the alias. This alias is only used by to inform the documentation team about bugs regarding the Gentoo Documentation. You can add yourself by editing /var/mail/alias/misc/docs-team on Please do not use this address to try and contact the team - you can contact us through the mailinglist, IRC or by mailing the project lead or any other member.

Members of the Gentoo Documentation Team are frequently online in #gentoo-doc on

Depending on the assignment or responsibilities, a member may have CVS access to Interested non-developers can use the anonymous CVS server to help out with the documentation. It contains the same files as our CVS server but is a few minutes late.

Documentation Translation Teams

Every language should be backed up by an official Translation Team. This team is led by a Lead Translator and perhaps a Follow-On Lead Translator, who both have CVS commit access. Organization of the translations is handled by the lead translator as he or she sees fit, as long as the committed translations follow this policy.

If a translated document for an unsupported language is contributed, the Gentoo Documentation Team will publish it as-is. Such documents will not be linked to the website until an official Translation Team of that language is formed, but they will be available on our site and in CVS.

For more information Gentoo document translations, please consult the Translators Howto for Gentoo Documentation and the GDP Internationalisation Subproject page.

3.  Gentoo Documentation Guidelines

Legal Issues

Every document published by the Gentoo Documentation Project must be licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, preferably the latest version (although earlier versions are supported too).

Every document must have the following tag inside its GuideXML source code between the </abstract> and the <version> tags:

Code Listing 3.1: Licensing notice for the Gentoo Documentation


<!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
<!-- See -->
<license version="3.0"/>


If the 2.5 version is used, the tag can be either <license /> or <license version="2.5" />. In either case must the comment be updated to refer to the correct version URL.

Bugs and Updates

Every bug reported on should be handled as fast as possible. If a bug cannot be handled in a timely fashion, the reporter of that bug should be informed about this using a comment on the bug.

Whenever a Gentoo Documentation Team member takes care of a bug, he or she should assign the bug to herself/himself, but make sure that is on the Cc-list. A bug may not be taken away from another Gentoo Documentation Team member without their approval unless consent has been received from the project lead.

Document Development

Every Gentoo Documentation Team may handle documentation development as it sees fit. However, when the document is finished, it should be transformed into GuideXML and made available on the Gentoo CVS infrastructure. It must also be registered in the metadoc.xml file if applicable.

When a new document is started or a big change is needed, a bug should be filed at concerning the development of this document. If there is already a bug in the database that requests a change to the documentation, a new bug does not have to be filed. Grammatical, syntactical or small changes do not require a bug to be filed on as well.

All changes in contents of the document, except for typo fixes in text itself or in the comments to code listings, should lead to version number and date increase. Note that the change of a Code Listings should definitely cause an increase of the version number and date.

All changes in XML formatting should lead to version and date bumps only in case the layout of the HTML document changes.

Versions should always be handled as integers, so a version bump of version 2 leads to version 3. Historical versions that use the major and minor syntax should be converted to the next integer on the next update, so version 3.2 becomes version 4.

Every update of a translation should use the version and date information verbatim from the master English document so fully synchronised translations have the same version and date.

Reviewing and Committing

To maintain a high-paced documentation development cycle, technical or intrusive changes to documents can be propagated immediately to the document. This is allowed only if the editor is absolutely confident the changes are functionally correct. If you are not absolutely confident (for instance because a user has told you how to fix it but you cannot verify yourself), have the changes reviewed by a third person that can verify the changes are apt.

High-volume, technical or intrusive changes must be accompanied by a bug report on This bug number must be mentioned in the CVS log to allow backtracing of changes.

If a bugfix includes changes to content as well as internal coding changes, both changes must be committed separately. This allows translators to focus on the relevant changes regarding content and ignore the coding changes.


Malicious conduct by developers has not been an issue before. However, it should be noted that documentation developers that misuse their position by

  • deliberately providing wrong information to users or developers
  • deliberately writing flawed documentation
  • deliberately corrupting documents
  • deliberately go against the decisions made policy-wise or through a consensus-model on the Gentoo Documentation mailinglist
  • not performing at all for a long time without informing the GDP

will be reported to the Gentoo Developer Relations project.

4.  Documentation Team Recruitment

Contributors, Authors, Translators

Everyone interested in contributing documentation, editing existing documentation, writing new documentation or translating documentation is welcome to send their contributions. There are no rules or strings attached to this. Just make sure you are subscribed to, and you have fully read this policy and understand it.

Recruitment Process

The Documentation Project uses the recruitment process outlined below. We have opted for this recruitment process to assure ourselves that the recruit is well informed about the Gentoo Documentation Policy and the Gentoo Coding Style. It has proven to be quite effective even though many contributors see it as a too large burden to cross.

This recruitment process is meant only for requests to the Gentoo Documentation Repository through CVS. Being listed as the maintainer or point of contact for a certain document or range of documents does not require developer access.

Phase 1: Contributions

No recruitment process starts without investigating the contributions done already to the Gentoo Documentation Project. The number of contributions must be large to assure a good knowledge of GuideXML, Coding Style and policy. The contribution period must be large as well to allow the contributor to find out if he can provide continuous support for the Gentoo Documentation Project.

An update constitutes a non-trivial update to any documentation, translation or otherwise, completely written or edited by the contributor and committed after review by any existing documentation developer.

If you feel that you have shown sufficient amount of contributions, contact the project lead of the Gentoo Documentation Project who will review the contributions and the timeframe (or delegate this towards another GDP member). He will ask you for your coordinates and other information, and then arrange for the next phase to be started.

Phase 2: Start the Recruitment Process

During this period, submitted patches are not edited by a documentation developer anymore, but are either committed as-is or refused. The recruit is also assigned to a documentation developer (the mentor) which will guide him through these last phases.

The quality of the contributions are in this phase most important - every patch that does not follow the Documentation Policy, Coding Style or other guideline that affects the document is tackled by the recruit himself with help of the mentor.

During this period, the recruit: is advised to learn about Gentoo's inner workings. This is required as he or she will be asked later on to answer Gentoo's Staffing Quiz.

It is also recommended, but not automatically required, to fill in the Gentoo Documentation Project Quiz. This will assist the recruit in learning more about how the Gentoo Documentation Project documentation works. If at a later time the Gentoo Documentation Project lead feels that the recruit (or by then editor or author) shows insufficient knowledge on this, he might ask the recruit (or by then editor or author) to work on the quiz after all.

Phase 3: Gentoo Recruitment

When Phase 2 is finished, the project lead will contact Developer Relations and give a final "Go!" for the Gentoo recruitment process after which the recruit will be given access to the necessary Gentoo infrastructural services (like the documentation repository).

Recruitment of Existing Gentoo Developers

If the recruit is already a Gentoo Developer, the same recruitment process is followed, but of course the staffing quiz is not necessary anymore. The Gentoo Documentation Project Quiz is still recommended.


Page updated March 31, 2013

Summary: This document contains the Gentoo Documentation Policy, which is the base document which all Gentoo Documentation developers and Contributors should know and exercise.

Xavier Neys

John P. Davis

Sven Vermeulen

Donnie Berkholz

Donate to support our development efforts.

Copyright 2001-2015 Gentoo Foundation, Inc. Questions, Comments? Contact us.