Blog Post

Getting involved

So you really want to get involved helping out Ubuntu but just don’t know where to start, or maybe think you need to be some big-time programmer in order to help out. Well let me be the first, or maybe the hundredth, person to tell you that this is far from the reality of getting involved.

How I got involved: I started out helping with Kubuntu developers with testing. From here I learned about other teams such as the Wiki Team, the Maketing Team, the Laptop Testing Team, as well as a few others. Each of these teams, perfect stepping stones as a way into the community, are not small projects or teams, and actually are depended on by the developers in the community. For instance, the Wiki Team maintains the developer wiki as well as the community documentation wiki. The goal of the team is to ensure that the wiki’s keep a consistent style as well as the information provided is accurate and detailed enough to help everyone from the first-time user all the way up to the seasoned developer. The Marketing Team maintains the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, creates DIY Marketing information, and works closely with the Canonical marketers to ensure that Ubuntu is spread worldwide. I started out with these teams in which I was introduced to many of the great developers in which I have a privilege of working along side with every day. It was from here that I eventually stepped up in to more prominant community roles and get to work with the development of the system documentation, Kubuntu development, and now a new roll which came up recently, KDE Documentation.

No matter the amount of knowledge you have with Ubuntu or Linux, there is always a way for you to get started in helping out the Ubuntu community. Be it sitting in IRC and helping out users with their problems, helping out the developers test their applications, working closely with a Local Community Team (LoCo), marketing, or documentation, your help will always be greatly appreciated, and awarded every 6 months with what has shaped up to be one of the greatest Linux distributions of all time. To learn more about how you can get involved with Ubuntu, the Contributing to Ubuntu is a great page to start out with. The most difficult things with getting involved, which are not actually that hard, is learning IRC if you have never used it before (just as easy as using AIM, MSN, or ICQ), setting up a GPG (gnupg) key, signing the Code of Conduct and becoming an Ubuntero. Now when I say difficult, I am using it loosely and mean that it is really that easy to get involved.

Who knows, you just might get lucky and meet some great developers who have no problem in guiding you and teaching you even more than you could have ever imagined. Now that I am a part of the KDE project as well, it is just as easy over there as I am sure it is just as easy with GNOME, Enlightenment, Xfce, and more. When we say Open Source, we are not only talking about the code of the application, but we are also speaking about the community. The door is always open and you are always welcome.

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  • Thanks for your post. I created a similar post to this entitled “Participating in the open source community: Giving back”.

    http://useopensource.blogspot.com/2006/09/participating-in-open-source-community.html

    Tristan

  • Hari

    Thanks for the nice post .. however, one thing is unclear.

    What does testing mean? What did you test? How do I begin to test?

    Thank you again!

  • Hari

    Oops, I forgot the main line itself 🙂

    “I started out helping with Kubuntu developers with testing”

    Could you elaborate a bit on that?

  • Rock on Tristan (added to blogroll btw).

    Hari, sure I can elaborate. I would get online via IRC and join the #kubuntu channel and offer support when I could. Then came the testing portion, and I would join #kubuntu-devel and offer to test anything they needed testing. A developer would upload a file and I would download it, install it, and do what they asked. Also during development of the next release, I would test the daily builds (http://cdimages.ubuntu.com under daily (alternate cd) and daily-live (live cd)), and offer to help out with documenting my efforts on the wiki. A lot of people get discouraged about testing because they don’t want to damage their systems. Luckily for me I have a couple of machines I can just install, reformat, install… and so on. I also relied heavily on VMWare (Server is what I used). This allowed me to take a snapshot, then do whatever testing I needed to do. Once I was done with testing, I would revert back to the last snapshot I took. There is now a Kubuntu Testing Team:

    https://launchpad.net/~kubuntu-testers
    https://wiki.kubuntu.org/KubuntuTesters

    I hope this helped clarify a little bit. Thanks for the responses and most importantly have fun and live free! 🙂

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