General Conventions for Mirroring and Redistributing the Jargon File
The Jargon File is in the public domain, to be freely used, shared,
and modified. There are (by intention) no legal restraints on what
you can do with it, but there are conventions about its proper use
which help people a lot of get the best use out of it, and minimize
hassles for the maintainers. They're simple:
We encourage people to mirror the Jargon File WWW resources. Just
copy all the HTML files under the jargon FTP directory at ftp://ftp.ccil.org/jargon.
Follow the directions in the INSTALL-HTML file. And tell us
that you've done it so we can add you to our list of mirrors.
- Get the latest version to mirror or redistribute.
- Don't mirror or convert by hand!
Most links in the Jargon subweb are relative (in particular, all links
to files below the Jargon File Resources directory are local). Thus,
it shouldn't be necessary for you to edit URLs in the copy.
Note: we strongly discourage mirroring by hand, it leads to
old mirrors not getting updated later on. It's a lot smarter to write
a script that periodically re-copies everything...say, once every 30
or 60 days (or, better yet, checks more often to see if a re-copy is
needed by comparing file dates). That way you'll stay up to date.
If you actually write one of these mirroring scripts, send us a copy
so we can distribute it. We don't know of any tools perfect for the job,
but a simple expect script using ftp or ncftp ought to
do the trick.
Re-distributing the Jargon File
If you distribute a free Unix (like Linux or one of the free BSD variants)
we encourage you to include the Jargon File HTML version as part of your
system documentation tree.
Your installation script or RPM will need to do steps 3 and 4 of the
Re-packaging the Jargon File
We also encourage people to repackage the HTML Jargon File content in their own
favorite formats (RTF, FrameMaker, Hypercard, etc.) and redistribute
it. We'll even help you do it. With these conditions:
Once again, we strongly discourage hand-hacking. Don't do
it! It only leads to one-off conversions that never get redone and
age rapidly, causing headaches down the road for everyone. It's much
smarter to write a script (in Perl or something like it) to
mechanically massage the HTML version into your preferred form. That
way you can re-convert painlessly whenever a new HTML version hits the
- Don't convert by hand!
- Send us a copy of your conversion script.
- Please don't publish a printed version.
- If you edit the File's content, clearly so indicate!
The World Wide Web maintains a page of
you may be able to use to do most of the donkey-work for your conversion.
Once you have a nice polished conversion, send us a pointer to or copy
of your converter. We'll make it available (on this page) so nobody
has to do the work twice.
Please don't publish or distribute printed versions of the Jargon
File. We can't legally stop you, but you shouldn't do it anyway. The
File has a paper publisher (MIT Press) and a paper version, The
New Hacker's Dictionary. They were good sports about the
electronic re-distribution rights -- let's not make them regret that.
Finally, if you edit the Jargon File's actual content in any
substantive way, please stick a notice right up front on your copy
explaining who did it and why. We'd rather not be held responsible
for anyone else's editing -- it's enough work being responsible for
Eric S. Raymond <firstname.lastname@example.org>