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Introduction

Whether you're a lowly new user to Gentoo or an experienced computer user, anyone can contribute and give back to an open source project. Skill level and amount of knowledge is important, but it is the desire to create change and help others that will spur the movement forward.

In this howto we'll cover the general ways that users can "give back" to the Gentoo project and community, while including specific instructions on where to go. It can also serve as a launching ground for beginning a role as an official contributor as a staffer or developer within the project.

Contents

Community and Communication

Community projects are built on the backs of volunteers. While they generally center around an idea or vision, it is the work and dedication of contributors that bring it to life. Gentoo is no different in this regard, and in fact is very informal in how it grows and evolves. There is no set timeline and goal for most projects, and instead developers can start projects that they find interesting. While on one hand this can lead to a lot of orphaned works, it also allows for many original ideas to develop unencumbered from policy and restricted thinking.

Gentoo is a lot of things to a lot of people. By definition it is a meta-distribution, meeting many needs at once, and providing the tools for people to do with it what they want.

We would be nowhere without or users, who provide feedback, help others, and contribute. There are a lot of ways to do this, but it can be a bit daunting somewhere wondering where you can start.

There are actually a lot of places to look and "give back", but each one is best suited for a different purpose. To be most effective, it's helpful to find the place that best fits both your questions and information.

Forums

Location: http://forums.gentoo.org/

Best fit: Questions with any level of difficulty, ability to provide detailed information, time-delayed responses.

The forums is usually the best place to stop for users of all backgrounds, for many reasons. For one, it is a great resource for users searching for solutions to problems that others have run into. This is the place where users help each other out, and a great way to learn about all aspects of Gentoo.

If you're looking to help out, it's as simple as responding to users' posts. Getting Gentoo up and running and working is not an easy task, and experience is invaluable.

Aside from the obvious support channels available on the forums, here are some that cover ground a bit differently:

News and Announcements - This forum is mostly going to be populated with GLSAs, or Gentoo Linux Security Advisories. But there will often be sticky posts of major changes that are coming to Gentoo. For example: php-4* getting masked.

Not all the major changes get through to this forum though, and here's one area that users can contribute. If you recognize a major change that has gone down, that has been undocumented, then you could write up a nice, clean post covering what has changed, why it happened, and how it affects users. Once you're finished, submit it to the Gentoo Development mailing list, and ask for someone to review it and forward it on to the Announcements.

Documentation, Tips & Tricks - The docs forum is for just that. You don't have to be a master novelist to write up a short howto. In fact, about the only requirement for any new useful entries in here is that it is original. Simple tips can go a long way for a new user, so even things you may consider obvious may be very helpful for our "noobs".

Mailing Lists

In a very similar way as the forums mentioned above, you can help users with questions on one of our mailing lists. You also have the possibility to give feedback about development issues that come up.

Blogs

Webpages

Wiki

GMN

IRC

Documentation

Development

Writing Ebuilds

Filing Bugs

For improving the quality of Gentoo, it is very important that bugs get filed, and solutions offered. Please make sure there is not already an open bug for an issue you want to file. You can also search for existing open bugs in software that you use and try to come up with solutions. Or even just confirming and possibly narrowing down the issue to something more specific would help. You can also search the bug trackers of the "upstream" software developers to see if they know about it and maybe have a solution ready.

Creating Patches

Arch Testers

Proxy Maintainership

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Last modified: Wed, 01 Oct 2008 07:25:00 +0000 Hits: 82