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Ubuntu 11.10 Development Update

This is a guest post from Daniel Holbach, who will be posting updates about Ubuntu Development. (Original Post).

Ubuntu Development Update

Oneiric development is in full swing and with Feature Freeze still 7 weeks away, most of the intrusive changes are landing in the development release as we speak. Alpha 2 will be released in two weeks which should be a great time to check out what’s currently happening. As always: the status overview might give you an idea how each feature is progressing.

Today Ubuntu maintainers are having a dh_python2 porting jam. If you know something about packaging and python already and want to help out, this is a great opportunity to get involved. If you want to be part of the initiative

Last week I pointed out five different bitesize bugs. It seems like Alexander Fougner grabbed three of them and put up merge proposals for review. Awesome!

New Old Contributor

Each week, I’ll talk to somebody who just got their fixes into Ubuntu and ask them about their experience. It’s a while since my first steps into the Ubuntu world, but this time I’ll talk about my own experience.

In 2004 I had been using Debian for a couple of years already as my exclusive computing experience and enjoyed it very much. Looking back it’s a bit hard to say why I never got involved in Debian immediately. I filed bugs when I encountered them, sometimes even had a look at the source code, but seemingly overwhelming amounts of documentation and procedures never made it feel like a realistic option. It took a little bit of time and meeting Michael Vogt for me to understand that it’s actually not impossible to get involved and contribute making Open Source even better.

Michael Vogt was working on Ubuntu at the time already and after having had lunch with him a couple of times, I had a better idea of how all the things fitted together. At the same time I was working on a project for university and found out that I needed a newer version of a library. Looking back, I think that’s the point where I knew I wanted to get involved and not only fix the issue for myself on my own machine, but for hundreds if not thousands of users.

From then on I started fixing build failures and fixed small bugs here and there. I still remember the feeling when I got positive feedback on a bug report after I fixed the issue. It was just fantastic!

The most important lesson I learned back then was to not be afraid of making mistakes or asking questions. Truth to be told, I made many mistakes and learned a lot during the time. What I love about it is that I never felt like an idiot, but that my efforts were appreciated. That’s why I think it’s important to get in touch with developers on IRC and talk about what you’re doing and where you are stuck. Often enough it’s something really simple you missed or you’ll find that somebody else is already working on the problem.

Back then the Ubuntu world was much less organised, but also much smaller. There was one mailing list and one IRC channel in the beginning, so it was a little bit easier to keep track of what’s going on. On the other hand were the tools less powerful back then and specific documentation almost non-existent. Still I’d say that it’s as easy today as it was back then to get to know really great people and make good friends, friends for life.

Everything that came afterwards, like how I was invited to my first UDS or when I was at the center of a flash hug or when Jono and I bought costumes in a sex shop, I’ll probably leave as a story for another time. :-)

Get Involved

  1. Read the Introduction to Ubuntu Development. It’s a short article which will help you understand how Ubuntu is put together, how the infrastructure is used and how we interact with other projects.
  2. Follow the instructions in the Getting Set Up article. A few simple commands, a registration at Launchpad and you should have all the tools you need, and you’re ready to go.
  3. Check out our instructions for how to fix a bug in Ubuntu, they come with small examples that make it easier to visualise what exactly you need to do.

Find something to work on

Pick a bitesize bug. These are the bugs we think should be easy to fix. Here’s a few examples:

In addition to that there are loads more opportunities over at Harvest.

Getting in touch

There are many different ways to contact Ubuntu developers and get your questions answered.

  • Be interactive and reach us most immediately: talk to us in #ubuntu-motu on irc.freenode.net.
  • Follow mailing lists and get involved in the discussions: ubuntu-devel-announce (announce only, low traffic), ubuntu-devel (high-level discussions), ubuntu-devel-discuss (fairly general developer discussions).
  • Stay up to date and follow the ubuntudev account on Facebook, Identi.ca or Twitter.