Getting involved with FOSS - Fosscon 2011


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  • Linux Foundation: 70% of all kernel development is done by developers who are being paid for their work
  • Organized events One on one mentoring when you start working
  • The hands on, productive involvement you can engage in will improve your skills. It's common for potential employers to search for information online about applicants, open source involvement is frequently valued Yes, you can put it on your resume!
  • More likely, you'll be part of a smaller project which just impacts thousands Webcalendar Debian package Xubuntu and Ubuntu Women websites
  • First thing people think of. Of course this is vital! That said, that programming is less useful if no one can use your application, or get help, or find your software
  • Who has ever submitted a bug? One of the best ways to contribute to large projects that doesn't require any specialized skill is to close or merge duplicate bug reports. Ever fixed a bug? Great for people new to programming, improve your skills by writing fixes! Also: Feature requests, suggestions
  • Ever use open source software that had bad documentation? irssi: /usr/share/doc/irssi/manual.txt.gz «.. no, the docs end here, I got bored of writing these after a few days and haven't touched these since then.» Blog! Google is not official documentation but it's one of the first places people look for answers. Projects often have documentation in formats such as docbook or texinfo – don't let this scare you off. if you submit the documentation in plain text there is a good chance somebody with more experience will format it for you, and thank you too!
  • User support mailing lists IRC Forums
  • Important – different user environments, different usage cases Some developers (me) testing approach might be “it works for me”: release! Virtualization and ability to run ISOs from USB sticks makes this much easier
  • F/OSS projects have a terrible reputation for having ugly applications Programmers hack together basics. Icons Websites
  • Administrative: Keeping site up to date (dead sites suck!) Planning meetings Sharing results of IRC discussions Resolving disputes So those are the primary ways to get involved. In a Project like Ubuntu: planning an event (conference, LUG, etc)? Help organize and attend! Volunteer to man a table or do a presentation!
  • I and many people I know have spent time getting a feel for a community But some people recommend that you just submit a patch Show some understanding of the project when you present your ideas People don't appreciate new people joining their project and trying to rewrite everything without being familiar with the history, environment, culture Not all projects accept contributions from new people immediately Exceptions, sure! Bugs? It's ok to just jump in and report.
  • Projects may be inactive due to lack of volunteers, loss of interest by founder. Probably don't want to get involved unless you are prepared to do everything. Big projects are great, but barriers to entry can be discouraging and difficult to overcome for a new contributor. Over-the-fence – a company develops something, licenses it as F/OSS, but doesn't actually engage a community – it is sometimes possible to get involved to submit patches and the like, but it's tricky. Your company might even encourage F/OSS contributions, but ask that you use their name – or keep their name out of it. At the end of the GPL, there's a form for your boss to sign. It's so important that it's included as part of the most popular free software license.
  • Procedures for contributions have been developed and typically are in place for a reason (sure, you can disagree, but understand the environment well enough to feel confident you can bring up this disagreement productively). It's frustrating when new people come along with the attitude “I worked on this thing that will help the project, they should accept my help on my terms” You're new, criticism is normal, nothing personal! If you make a commitment to a project, follow-through – volunteer status doesn't matter Many of the people working on F/OSS projects are volunteers like you, they may not be able to drop everything and respond to you quickly.
  • Getting involved with FOSS - Fosscon 2011

    1. 1. Making a Difference for Millions: Contributing to FOSS Presented by Elizabeth Krumbach [email_address] @pleia2
    2. 2. Elizabeth Krumbach <ul><li>Debian Systems Administrator
    3. 3. Member of the Ubuntu Community Council
    4. 4. Board Member of </li></ul>
    5. 5. bug # 713087 Allow Unity launcher to be resizable
    6. 7. status: New -> Opinion status: Opinion -> Invalid status: Invalid -> New status: New -> Confirmed status: Confirmed -> Opinion Andrea Azzarone wrote a patch for this status: Opinion -> Confirmed status: Confirmed -> Triaged status: Triaged -> Fix Committed status: Fix Committed -> Fix Released Looks great! Thanks Andrea — Mark Shuttleworth
    7. 8. Do you contribute to FOSS today? Do you want to contribute to FOSS today?
    8. 9. How is it organized? Who pays for it?
    9. 10. Why?
    10. 11. The parties!
    11. 12. Friends!
    12. 13. Travel!
    13. 14. Learning!
    14. 15. Experience
    15. 16. Making a Difference for Millions (or thousands) (or hundreds) (or dozens) (or just you)
    16. 17. What?
    17. 18. Programming
    18. 19. Working with Bugs
    19. 20. Documentation
    20. 22. Support
    21. 23. Testing
    22. 24. Design
    23. 27. Community
    24. 28. How?
    25. 29. <ul><li>Go to their website, look around
    26. 30. Join mailing list(s), IRC channel, forums
    27. 31. Get a feel for the community
    28. 32. ...or
    29. 33. Just submit a patch. </li></ul>First Steps
    30. 34. <ul><li>Not every project is active
    31. 35. You may want to avoid projects that are: </li><ul><li>Huge and with high entry barriers
    32. 36. Run by companies in an “over-the-fence” style </li></ul><li>If you work in tech, you may have restrictions placed on your involvement with open source </li></ul>Watch Out!
    33. 37. <ul><li>Respect other contributors
    34. 38. Follow procedures in place for contributions
    35. 39. Follow through with commitments
    36. 40. Avoid insulting the work of your predecessors
    37. 41. Focus on constructive criticism and comments
    38. 42. Don't fork the project </li></ul>Tips
    39. 43. Have fun!
    40. 44. Questions?
    41. 45. Credits Lydia Pintscher — Talk title suggestion Laura Czajkowski — UDS ice skating photo Mike Edwards — Philadelphia photo Jorge Castro — Unity bug example Trevor Calabro — grecipe icon set Martin Owens — Reasons to Love Ubuntu poster Mike Joseph — Slide review