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Re: Questions About Helping

[I've cc'ed you because I'm guessing you aren't subscribed to this
mailing list. If you are, my apologies.]

On Wed, Jan 01, 2003 at 05:07:46PM -0600, Fam Cordero Berrios wrote:
> I just installed your Linux 2.2 R7 and I already started to work on it.

That's actually an obsolete release. I suggest Debian GNU/Linux 3.0r1
instead. You should be able to upgrade smoothly from 2.2r7 using the
documented procedures.

> Looking in your web page I see that you guys are looking for people to
> help. I think this could be a good place for me to start. However, I
> need to understand the commitment in terms of time and expectations. I
> am working at this moment as a test system engineer with software
> development, software maintenance, software testing, software
> qualification and validation responsibilities. This also includes the
> generation of requirements documents, users guide and other
> documentation required to properly document the software.
> I would appreciate if you get back to me and let me know how many hours
> per week are needed in order to help you.

It's entirely up to you. Some people just submit good bug reports from
time to time, which is a valuable contribution in itself. Some people
dip in and send the occasional patch to a bug report, which assuming the
maintainer is reasonably active will get applied in time. Among those
interested enough to become full members of the Debian Project, some
just contribute a few hours every so often to maintain a package they're
interested in, right up to the people who spend twenty or thirty hours
of their free time a week or are even lucky enough to be employed to
work on Debian.

To quote a certain film: "You decide your own level of involvement." (no
points) :-) We have no management telling us what to do or how much time
we need to spend. People are likely to get a little annoyed if you
volunteer for something and then fail to do it, but other than that
there are no set expectations. If you want to start helping informally,
you don't need to apply to anyone, just do it; http://nm.debian.org/ is
there for people who want to become full developers.

Be aware that testing and quality assurance in Debian is somewhat
different than in other projects, largely because there's no centralized
control over packages. If you want to try to improve our testing
processes, that would be great, but you'll have quite a lot of work
ahead of you there. Formal requirements documents are also rare, and I
think most developers probably prefer informal conversations on mailing
lists or in the bug tracking system.

> Also, do I need a special workstation and/or equipment?

Any Debian system is enough for most purposes. Certain areas of the
project have special needs (for example, the installation system can be
helped by people with exotic hardware), but by and large nothing special
is required.

> Something else I need to know?

If you're interested in development, there are plenty of links at
http://www.debian.org/devel/ that should be of help.


Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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