Bryce Harrington bryce at canonical.com
Fri Dec 16 23:11:17 UTC 2011

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 07:45:58PM +0100, Tobia Tesan wrote:
> Hi, I'm Tobia, a former Slackware integralist, now an Ubuntu convert :P
> I've been using Ubuntu+Unity for some months on my new notebook (and
> before that Slackware on my rusty Athlon XP, and before that RedHat and
> Mandrake on my even rustier Pentium 200), and I'm loving it.
> I'm loving it so much that I'd love to contribute something back.
> I'm a decent programmer, but mostly inexperienced when it comes to
> desktop applications.
> I have coded some smallish Java/Swing apps and some Perl/GTK tools in
> the past (back in 2004 or 2005 or so), but nothing big.
> Actually, my drive in contributing would also be to keep my programming
> skills in shape.
> Of course, I speak Python.
> That said, would my help be welcome?

Of course!

> Any tips for getting my feet wet?

Sure, the ubuntu-devel mailing list is really more for discussions of
developing Ubuntu than helping new developers get started, although we
do very much welcome new developers as a project. See
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ContributeToUbuntu for all sorts of ways to
contribute to Ubuntu, and https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuDevelopment for
specific information on development.

> I've read the wiki, but I'm not really sure what to do at this point
> other than lurking the ml ;)

Yeah, those two wiki pages are a bit sketchy about actually programming
work needed in Ubuntu.

Well, within the scope of programming, we do coding on large codebases
to add specific features; we do end-to-end coding of smallish utilities
and applets; we write test cases (a particular heavy focus this cycle);
we make tools to help on packaging and bug tasks; and of course, we do
coding for authoring patches to fix issues reported in the bug tracker.
Python is used fairly pervasively, and C and Vala are also used pretty

If you're looking for something like a job jar, we've got various kinds
scattered about.  For instance see daniel holbach's Harvest tool, or
look at http://status.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-precise/ for unclaimed work
items (or even claimed work items that sound particularly interesting to
you).  The papercuts project has a job jar of particularly easy items
that look well suited to novice programmers.

Beyond that, I'd suggest following your personal interests.  Think about
what software you use the most and what annoys you about it, or what you
wish it could do.  Then use 'apt-get source <program>' to get the source
code and start poking through it to see if you can make improvements;
learn how to make and post patches for review; don't be afraid to ask

Good luck,

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