Chapter 1. Overview

Welcome to the FreeBSD Documentation Project (FDP). Quality documentation is crucial to the success of FreeBSD, and we value your contributions very highly.

This document describes how the FDP is organized, how to write and submit documentation, and how to effectively use the available tools.

Everyone is welcome to contribute to the FDP. Willingness to contribute is the only membership requirement.

This primer shows how to:

  • Identify which parts of FreeBSD are maintained by the FDP.

  • Install the required documentation tools and files.

  • Make changes to the documentation.

  • Submit changes back for review and inclusion in the FreeBSD documentation.

1.1. Quick Start

Some preparatory steps must be taken before editing the FreeBSD documentation. First, subscribe to the FreeBSD documentation project mailing list. Some team members also interact on the #bsddocs IRC channel on EFnet. These people can help with questions or problems involving the documentation.

  1. Install these packages. The docproj meta-port installs all the applications required to do useful work with the FreeBSD documentation.

    # pkg install docproj python3
  2. Install a local working copy of the documentation from the FreeBSD repository in ~/doc (see The Working Copy).

    % git clone https://git.FreeBSD.org/doc.git ~/doc
  3. Edit the documentation files that require changes. If a file needs major changes, consult the mailing list for input.

    Review the output and edit the file to fix any problems shown, then rerun the command to find any remaining problems. Repeat until all of the errors are resolved.

  4. Always build and test the changes before submitting them. Running make in the top-level directory of the documentation will generate that documentation in HTML format.

    % make
  5. When changes are complete and tested, generate a "diff file":

    % cd ~/doc
    % git diff > bsdinstall.diff.txt

    Give the diff file a descriptive name. In the example above, changes have been made to the bsdinstall portion of the Handbook.

  6. Submit the diff file using the web-based Problem Report system. If using the web form, enter a Summary of [patch] short description of problem. Select the Component Documentation. In the Description field, enter a short description of the changes and any important details about them. Use the Add an attachment button to attach the diff file. Finally, use the Submit Bug button to submit your diff to the problem report system.

1.2. The FreeBSD Documentation Set

The FDP is responsible for four categories of FreeBSD documentation.

  • Handbook: The Handbook is the comprehensive online resource and reference for FreeBSD users.

  • FAQ: The FAQ uses a short question and answer format to address questions that are frequently asked on the various mailing lists and forums devoted to FreeBSD. This format does not permit long and comprehensive answers.

  • Manual pages: The English language system manual pages are usually not written by the FDP, as they are part of the base system. However, the FDP can reword parts of existing manual pages to make them clearer or to correct inaccuracies.

  • Web site: This is the main FreeBSD presence on the web, visible at https://www.FreeBSD.org/ and many mirrors around the world. The web site is typically a new user’s first exposure to FreeBSD.

Translation teams are responsible for translating the Handbook and web site into different languages. Manual pages are not translated at present.

Documentation source for the FreeBSD web site, Handbook, and FAQ is available in the documentation repository at https://cgit.freebsd.org/doc/.

Source for manual pages is available in a separate source repository located at https://cgit.freebsd.org/src/.

Documentation commit messages are visible with git log. Commit messages are also archived at link:{git-doc-all}.

Web frontends to both of these repositories are available at https://cgit.freebsd.org/doc/ and https://cgit.freebsd.org/src/.

Many people have written tutorials or how-to articles about FreeBSD. Some are stored as part of the FDP files. In other cases, the author has decided to keep the documentation separate. The FDP endeavors to provide links to as much of this external documentation as possible.