SIPB is running a bug-squashing hackathon for release-critical bugs in Debian Lenny.
Place: W20-557, the SIPB office
Date: Saturday, 2008-12-13, between end-of-classes and finals week
Time: starting 2 PM, running to about 10 PM; come for any portion
Contact the SIPB Chair, Greg Price (
firstname.lastname@example.org), or Vice-Chair,
Nelson Elhage (
email@example.com), with any questions. During the
hackathon just call the office at (617) 253-7788.
Q: What's Lenny?
A: Lenny is the upcoming next stable release of Debian GNU/Linux. It was scheduled for September 2008 but has slipped to spring 2009. The last release was Etch in spring 2007, so Debian users are eagerly awaiting a new release.
Q: What's a release-critical bug?
A: A release-critical (RC) bug is a Debian bug of any of the highest levels of severity. RC bugs break a program completely, break some users' systems, or do similarly bad things. At last count there were 109 bugs (below) affecting Lenny. (Update: After the hackathon it's 105, with more fixes in the pipeline. Excellent.) Every one of those bugs has to be dealt with one way or another before Lenny will release.
Q: How is this list of bugs different from
A: The list on
bugs.debian.org includes bugs which have been
fixed, but haven't passed a requisite waiting period before being
introduced into Lenny. Our list is only bugs for which there is no
Q: I use Ubuntu. Why do I care about Debian releases?
A: Because Lenny is in the final, "freeze", stage of the cycle, many Debian contributors are holding off new versions of the software they maintain in order to focus on stabilizing and bugfixing Lenny. Since Ubuntu depends on Debian for >90% of its packaging work, that means less new software for Ubuntu until Lenny releases.
Q: I have no experience hacking on Debian.
A: No problem, we have three Debian Developers pledged to attend, plus Debian-packaging experts from SIPB's Debathena and XVM projects. They'll all be focussed on helping newer people find a good bug, make progress and stay unstuck on solving it, and get the fixes applied in Debian. Just come ready to help with the skills you have; you'll be sure to learn something.
Q: I don't have a lot of programming experience.
A: No problem, not every bug requires programming to fix. Some bugs concern documentation or copyright issues, and anyone willing to track stuff down and write in English precisely can help. You'll still get experience with the issues software in the real world has to deal with, and probably read some code along the way.
Debian Policy Manual: There will be people at the hackathon to help you with the packaging and policy aspects of updating Debian packages, but the Debian Policy Manual is a good reference.
Debian New Maintainers' Guide: Where the Policy Manual is a fairly declarative document, this is more of a tutorial on how to build packages that comply with Debian policy
tabbott's Packaging Tutorial: A summary of building Debian packages with CDBS, Tim's tutorial also includes a long list of useful commands for any sort of package development, as well as a list of useful sites
SIPB IAP class on Debian: A workshop where you can learn more about Debian packaging (the easy way! some of the packages you may have dealt with go through unnecessary complexity), with lots of hands-on examples.
The following Debian packages are useful for doing Debian development:
build-essential cdbs debhelper wdiff devscripts dh-make dpatch
dpkg-awk dpkg-dev equivs fakeroot lintian quilt
If you're an emacs user, you may also want:
See lenny-bugs-all for a complete list. Attack one of the bugs that look good, or read through the unclassified ones to find the good ones.