Thursday, 21 February 2013

Not got a Global Jam event to attend? Come jam on IRC

The Ubuntu Global Jam is am amazing opportunity to meet other Ubuntu supporters in your local area and sit down together and hack away on one of the many areas of Ubuntu development. However, not everyone is able to attend such an event in person, either because they live too far away from any organised events, will be on the road during the weekend, or because some disorganised cretin didn't bother thinking of organising one until the last minute. That cretin isn't me at all. Nope. I'm on the road that weekend, on business or something.

While the spirit of the Global Jam is to meet and work in person, it does't have to be that way. Over the weekend of the Jam, I'll be hanging out on Freenode IRC, specifically #ubuntu-bugs and #ubuntu-desktop, to work on the tasks that would have been done in person had I, um, that other person, the cretin, been a little more organised.

Bug triage

At the time of writing, the following numbers were pulled off of the Launchpad pages for some of Ubuntu's core apps:

Package New Bugs Confirmed Bugs Incomplete Bugs
Rhythmbox 234 225 44
Nautilus 285 216 60
Empathy 8 78 34
Firefox 1054 812 36
Gedit 62 41 4
LibreOffice 230 143 75
Totem 5 86 97

But bug triaging doesn't start and end with what's shipped on the CD. There are a ton of great apps in the Software Centre that need some love just as much as the core ones do. A few of my personal favourites are:

Package New Bugs Confirmed Bugs Incomplete Bugs
Miro 25 13 1
Chromium 2 0 0
VLC 2 6 6
Calibre 47 19 0

These are just a few of my favourite apps. If you have your own favourite, then by all means hack away on the bug backlog for it. If you need help finding the Launchpad page for it, come into #ubuntu-bugs on Freenode and ask. There are lots of lovely people in there who'll be happy to help you out.

What should you do with these bugs?
  • If a bug is marked as 'New', that means no-one has gotten round to looking at it yet. Why don't you have a go. New bugs need to be moved to either Invalid, Incomplete or Confirmed. Check out this article for more information on what each of these mean.
  • Confirmed bugs need to be moved to Triaged, though if a long time as gone past since it was reported it may have been already fixed elsewhere, in which case it should be moved to Invalid.
  • Incomplete need to be moved to either Invalid, Confirmed or Triaged.
You see all those numbers I've listed above for the 'New Bugs', 'Confirmed Bugs' and 'Incomplete Bugs'? Our goal is to reduce all of them to zero because every bug needs to be triaged. The Bug Squad has a great wiki page on what each of the statuses mean. Read it, understand it, drop into #ubuntu-bugs and help us out.

Packaging

The general health of the Ubuntu Desktop is maintained by taking new releases of software from upstream and packaging it in Ubuntu. This process usually happens automatically, but in cases where the Ubuntu version has been patched, manual intervention is required.

The desktop team maintain several lists of things that need done, notably:
The Ubuntu Packaging Guide is a great reference that you should keep close by you at all times. If you want to help out with this, then read through those first two resources, and make sure you know where to find the third, and hop into #ubuntu-desktop on Freenode and lend a hand. If you have any questions, then just ask them in there and someone will help you out.

You should never underestimate the impact a single person who gives just an hour or two of their time can have on the overall quality of Ubuntu, because in reality, you're not going to be the only one doing so. If 1000 people all give just an hour to bug triaging or packaging, that's 1000 hours of work going into Ubuntu, and that's freaking enormous. Dropping into IRC and picking up a couple of tasks for an hour can make a world of difference.