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Re: Want to work with a Linux Group


thank you for your interest in Debian.

On Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 10:32:13AM +0000, Roger Preston wrote:
> I am keen to work for/with a Linux development group, though am not
> sure where to start.

Besides things like translating, maintaining the Debian website and
reporting bugs there are basically two things Debian developers do,
though these can not strictly be separated: packaging and programming.

> I would describe myself as a competent C++ programmer, though perhaps
> not quite at your levels yet.

Alternatively to work on Debian you could also help to maintain software
upstream, but you asked on this list, so I don't think this is an option
for you.

So I assume that you are interested in programming C++ or maintaining
packages of software written in C++.

The first step is to decide on which package you want to work.  Mostly
it is very helpful if you use the software you work on yourself and if
you concentrate one one, at least at the beginning.

There is some really big and complex software written in C++ in the
Debian archive:

 * XULRunner, on which Iceweasel is based. Iceweasel is a rebranded
   Mozilla Firefox.  Icedove (rebranded Thunderbird) also uses XUL, but
   I'm not sure if they use the same XULRunner.
 * Openoffice.org

Their Debian packages need some help at the moment, though they require
both good skills and some time to understand how they work.

Other well known packages written in C++ are the KDE suite and apt.
There is many more less known software written in C++ in Debian.

apt is as far as I know the only package where Debian is upstream
(together with Ubuntu) and which is written in C++, so trying to get
involved in apt development might be an option for you.

If you don't find a proper package in C++ then C might be an option.
There are nearly uncountable packages using C in Debian, finding one you
are interested in should not be a problem.

There are different ways to call for help:

    * Orphaning a package (O) - a new maintainer is needed
    * Request for adoption (RFA) - a new maintainer is needed but the old one
      does the job until a new one is found
    * Request for help (RFH) - e.g. a second maintainer is wanted
    * Tag a bug help - the maintainer needs help with a specific bug

The Debian bug tracking system has a list of the first three, since they
are bug-reports filed against the pseudo package wnpp.  The title of the
bug tells you which kind of help was requested.  Other things like RFP
or ITA bugs are currently not interesting for you:


If you want to gain some experiences before you decided on which package
you want to work you could send patches for bugs which are release
critical (and older than just a few days) or where help has been

To get a list of packages you have installed and where help is requested
please install the package devscripts and run wnpp-alert.

A list of bugs filed against a package can be seen at
http://bugs.debian.org/src:sourcepackagename, e.g.:


To get a list of single bugs needing help visit:


A list of release critical bugs can be found at:


I could also provide you with some bugs in my packages which you could
fix, but as already said, it's better when you are interested in the
package and not someone else who just needs a coding slave.

After you have found a package you want to work on the best way to get
involved is to send patches for some bugs.  Just a  declaration of
intent does not help very much because many people do this but they to
not start working on what they proposed to do, this is the reason why
you will not get an answer to such mails in most cases.  If there is
a mailing list or an irc channel where issues regarding your favorite
package are discussed then joining this list or channel might be a good
idea.  The next step after you sent some patches asking the current
maintainers to become a co-maintainer.  If a package is orphaned there
will be no contact person or someone who responds to your mails (except
for xulrunner I guess), in such cases debian-mentors@lists.debian.org or
#debian-mentors on irc.oftc.net can help you to become the new
maintainer of the package.

After maintaining or co-maintaining a few smaller packages or a bigger
package for some time you can apply to become Debian Maintainer or
Debian Developer.

Some documents you should read can be found at:


The first one is probably http://debian.org/doc/maint-guide/,
additionally http://www.debian.org/Bugs/ provides some information about
our bug tracking system.

> I would really appreciate it though if you could point me in the
> direction of some Linux groups seeking development assistance.

I hope my mail helps, if you have additional questions
debian-mentors@lists.debian.org might be a better place to ask that
debian-devel, but feel free to Cc: me when you send questions to this

Btw. I'm wonder how many people involved in free and open software
prejudice people using a hotmail email address.


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