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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 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.

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.

We're told that the following command mirrors the Jargon resources to a specified local-dir:

wget -m -nH --cut-dirs=2 -np -L -P /home/httpd/htdocs/jargon

To use this, you'll need to have wget available in your path.

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.

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.

The Jargon File masters are maintained in XML Docbook. If there is an existing converter or stylesheet that will grind out your format, you're done.

The World Wide Web Consortium maintains a page of HTML converters you may be able to use to do most of the donkey-work for your conversion.

Otherwise, you're probably best off learning XSLT and writing a stylesheet. While it might be possible to write a script to massage the generated HTML into your preferred formart, learning XSLT would probably be easier.

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 our own!

Back to Jargon File Resources Up to Site Map $Date: 2003/10/27 05:33:06 $

Eric S. Raymond <>