Fedora : For the masses, Free as in beer
Today, I’m here to be your introductory guide to the magical land of Fedora the Free. All are welcome so long as you believe in the freedom of man and code.
For all the people who still keep asking me this, Linux is not an operating system, it’s a kernel. There are different operating systems which work over the Linux kernel, one of which is Fedora. It’s an open source project, i.e. the general public is invited to contribute for this. So you and I, indeed anyone, can help them out to create a great piece of free software useful to millions around the world. If you’re interested in taking your baby steps to contribution, follow on. And if you didn’t get the beer reference check it out!
Here, I’ll be focusing on contributing to the Fedora Project. This is mainly for the people who need a little guidance to take the first step. It may look daunting to you, but trust me, it isn’t. Once you get the hang of it, it should be easy to move onto any other project of your choice. It’s better to start in a large community and get some experience in your hand before you move on to something smaller.
You can start with the Fedora Wiki. The wiki is a one stop destination to all the details that you would need. It would have some great resources to newcomers like IRC(s) and mailing lists and more. Take your time to go through with it. Check out the join page to see where you can fit in.
Communication, about anything, is easy, with the right help. Join an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and subscribe to some mailing lists to get involved. An IRC is a real time chat which can be accessed by anyone with an IRC client. Getting comfortable with an IRC is essential, since a lot of community interaction in FOSS projects happen here, and I recommend #fedora-join for beginners.
A mailing list is much more static compared to an IRC but it gives larger and comprehensive information updates about the organization. Fedora has a lot of associated mailing lists that you can subscribe to. Feel free to check them out and subscribe the ones you need
The first step towards contribution is to create an FAS account, an account in the Fedora Account Services, an identity that helps you log into all the other accounts. The next step would be to get familiar about the project. Fedora has a wonderful system where you can win badges for tasks. Check out the badges and start getting your own. My friend Bhagyashree has this wonderful post explaining the different types of badges.
Now that you know about the different badges, here’s the shortcut I used : If you go up to weekly or monthly leaders in the Badges page, there should be at least one person who started recently and will have those easy-starting badges like location, FAS account, password change, etc… Start with those badges, and then work your way up.
Some badges like password and location of the FAS don’t work the first time since they send only the important data during account creation, you might have to do it once again to get the badge. Certain others, like Libravatar can take up to 2 days to get awarded, since the software checks and and awards posts only once in 2 days. The badges are little motivators given to the volunteers.
Now, you have to understand that Fedora is a huge project with a lot of branches, such as Marketing, Infrastructure, Quality Assurance, Community Operations (CommOps), etc.. all which new users can contribute to. Although you could make an account and jump right into something, I’d recommend you still try out the Badges and hit at least a 10, Winning the first few badges would help you get familiarized with the project and learn the lingo.
Obviously, you can’t get everything from the start. Introduce yourself in the meeting list and IRC and keep an eye on the conversations. Once you see something that you can tackle, communicate with that person and start your journey. It gets better when you start, I promise.