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Backporting and some hints to contribute to Debian (was: Re: nginx)


Jan Ingvoldstad schrieb:
It's repeated examples like these that make me realize why there are so few
useful backports, and it also keeps me from contributing.

Perhaps contribution will be appreciated one day, who knows.

I think one must distinguish with "contribute to backports" and "contribute to Debian". I think every one of us welcomes you to contribute to Debian in general (see bellow for some hints). It's just that while backporting looks very easy in the first glance, there are quite some things which can go horribly wrong (e.g.: One recent example: Should I backport automake 1.11 or do I dig through that stuff and see how to get it working with automake 1.10?) Therefore I agree, that backporting should not be your starting point.

Here some hints how to start to contribute to Debian (with technical / packaging skills; there are plenty of other ways to contribute):

1. Install the package "devscript".
1a) Run the command "wnpp-alert". This package will list all packages you have currently installed on your system (I guess, if it's installed, you are interested in them being as good as possible, aren't you?), which are currently not maintained at all, the maintainer is seeking a successor or is generally in need of some help. Take a look at the list and the packages, and see, if you would like to maintain them.

You can also get a complete list on the web at http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/rfa_bypackage ("Request for adoption"; current maintainer seeks a succesor) and http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/orphaned (no one maintains this package actively).

1b) Run the command "rc-alert". This package will list all release critical bugs for packages installed on your system. (Again: If it's installed, you are interested...). Look through these bugs; try to reproduce them (often maintainers can't reproduce them and are glad to be informed about the steps to do so) and try to find a fix. Once you have one, send your patch to the bug report. Should the maintainer not react, you can prepare a "Non maintainer upload" and ask for a sponsor.

2) Contribute to your favourite packages; look through the bugs and propose patches. You can also join package teams or offer co-maintainance. This is especially a nice way to join slowly and learn how things are done.

3) Take care of general qa. As you have seen by running wnpp-alert and looking at the list of orphaned packages, there are quite some packages not actively maintained. Even if you don't want to take over maintenance in the long run, you can prepare "qa" uploads. Fix Bugs, prepare new upstream versions, take care of the "small things" like watch files and standards version. Ask for sponsorship of your prepared uploads.

Best regards,
  Alexander, who is sure, that he forgot quite some "easy start" areas.

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