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Getting involved with Debian development...


I've been interested in Linux for some time now, and have used various distributions on and off.
My first distribution was Debian hamm, way back in 1999.  I still remember getting KDE 1.0 to work
and configuring my ISA modem on that old Pentium II machine...  After that, I went through Red Hat,
Mandrake, and a whole slew of minor distributions - but was always partial to the "Debian way". I even installed Debian on some old 68k Macs back in the day! I then went back to (gasp) Windows for a  period of time, had a period on Kanotix/Ubuntu in 2004/05, and finally to Mac OS X.

Though Mac OS X is good, its closed nature has annoyed me somewhat - one striking example is that one can't
even disable "sleep on lid close"!  I've also wanted to get involved in development/testing - especially with this being my senior
year in college - and the world of Mac OS X is oriented around closed projects and closed source.  As a result, I've been working with
Linux on my MacBook some - for the most part, Debian and Ubuntu - and investigating various bugs, testing things like Compiz
and various wireless drivers, and delving into the actual source code some.

Anyway, I am curious what exactly it entails to become a Debian developer, and what would be best to do if one wanted to involve
oneself in Debian with this ultimate goal.  I do know of a couple things that aren't packaged that I may want to take a stab at at some point
(xcalib and virtualbox some to mind immediately), and I also may want to work on documentation and the release structure/release packaging.
(in using Debian and Ubuntu, there are things I like/dislike about both release structures). Can some current Debian developers fill me in a little
on what would be best for me to do in this case? 

I should just point out a few things, though, so I don't get flamed if any of this comes up later (I've heard some nightmare stories involving Debian development).  First of all, I'm also looking into Ubuntu, for many of the same reasons - I'm still undecided as to what project I'm going to get involved in.  Secondly, I may not be as passionate about free software as some within the project - while I definitely prefer it, I will use non-free software if it works significantly better for my purposes or allows me to use my hardware ( i.e. wireless drivers).  Finally, I am inexperienced where it comes to low-level C coding (though I can generally understand at least some of it).

Tim Hull

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