As someone who has for a long time wanted to get involved with an open source project, and specifically GNOME, the GNOME Developer Kit is a true blessing. (And more on my wanting to get involved in a different post in a week or so).
The GNOME Developer Kit is fully functional operating system with the latest (unstable) branch of GNOME. Available as an ISO you can install on your hard drive, or a VMWare image you can boot within your current OS, it has everything you need to start contributing back to GNOME. The GNOME Developer Kit is based on Foresight Linux, and uses Conary and PackageKit to stay updated with the latest commits from GNOME Subversion. Both the Dev Kit and Foresight were created by Ken VanDine, Foresight’s lead developer.
Og Maciel, a GNOME contributor, blogged about using the GNOME Developer Kit in assisting the translation teams. One comment in particular caught my attention, asking if translations were too hard of an area for someone new to contributing to start with.
With this in mind, what kind of documentation should be included with the GNOME Developer Kit, and where should it live? Getting started in open source can be daunting, and GNOME can sometimes come off as a bit of a clique, making it even harder for someone to start. Translations, bug triaging, and documentation are typically easy areas for someone new to start, but I’ve seen some challenges first hand trying to get involved. I don’t have any answers, but some of the questions that come to mind for me are:
- Should documentation live on the image or on the wiki?
- If on the wiki, should it link to other sections of the GNOME wiki (live.gnome.org or LGO for short)? (For example, the “Testing Patches” is linked on the GNOME Dev Kit’s LGO page to the Testing Patches LGO page.)
- If on the image, should it be a docbook file similar to the Foresight User Guide, or just an HTML page?
- What common tasks for developers should be documented? Think back to when you were just getting started with contributing, what questions came to mind?
- What else?
Getting started with contributing back to an open source project takes determination and even a bit of courage. Tools like the GNOME Developer Kit help make that start even easier.