Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Want to get involved with Ubuntu? Get involved with One Hundred Paper Cuts.

With all the cool stuff that's been released in Ubuntu over the past two cycles, and all the cool stuff that's going to come out, there's never been a better time to get involved with Ubuntu. But where do start?

Ubuntu is a huge project whose moving parts are beyond counting, so it can be hard to figure out where to go to start contributing to Ubuntu. One place you can start, and the best as far as I'm concerned :), is One Hundred Paper Cuts.

But what is One Hundred Paper Cuts? According to the wiki:
The One Hundred Paper Cuts project exists to work on the little annoyances in Ubuntu. These bugs are normally considered too low priority for the developers of the apps in question, who already have more than enough to work on, and so the One Hundred Paper Cuts project comes along and picks them up. In each release cycle, the project aims to fix 100 of these little bugs and in doing so, give Ubuntu a layer of polish that is not typically found in other Linux distros.

Paper Cuts? Meh. Unity's where all the cool kids are

The paper cut project is one of the ways that Ubuntu stands out from everything else that's out there. Unity may be getting all the attention (both good and bad), but it's only part of the experience the average Ubuntu user is going to have. Most people will only use to open an app and continue their work in that, and all the tacky Amazon adverts in the world can't help them have a better experience in Rhythmbox or Nautilus, and that's where we come in.

One Hundred Paper Cuts is where you can have the greatest impact on the day-to-day experience of the average user. If there's a UI flaw in Rhythmbox that stops them being able to search their music collection just the way they want, that's going to annoy them every time they open the app, and it'll do it way more than a crash will because they know it's coming, every single time they start it up. If you want to make a real difference to the way people use Ubuntu, then join One Hundred Paper Cuts. All you have to do is fix a single bug to make a lot of peoples lives much easier.

I don't know how to program. What can I possibly do?

The majority of the work is actually done by non-programmers, and that's true of Ubuntu as a whole. If you don't know how to program but want to get involved with the paper cuts project, you can:
  • Fire up your favourite app that ships by default in Ubuntu and tell us everything about it that annoys you. If you don't know how to spot a paper cut, check this out, and if you want to know how to report one when you find it, look at this.
  • Track down the Launchpad page for your favourite app and look through the existing bug reports to see if there are any paper cuts hiding in there. If you find them, then report them to us.
  • Help lighten our load a little bit by chipping away at our backlog of new bugs. These need to be marked as confirmed, incomplete or invalid. If they're not paper cuts, at least make sure it gets forwarded to the right project.
  • Help lighten our load a little bit more and by chipping away at our backlog of confirmed bugs. Guidelines on how and when to change the status of a paper cut can be found here.

I do know how to program. What can I possibly do?

If you know how to program C/GTK+, or are at least willing to learn on your feet, then there'e no shortage of things to do. Pick a bug you like the sound of and hack away at it. If you need any help, then send a call out to the team mailing list and we'll give you a hand.

Happy holidays and happy hacking :)