Getting Involved in the Ubuntu Community



This BoF will talk about getting people involved in the Ubuntu community process.

Rationale gets many emails from people asking how they can get involved in the Ubuntu process. Right now, there is a participate page on the Ubuntu wiki but it is quite rough.

This BoF will brainstorm about ways that we can help turn the desire to help into a productive relationship with the Ubuntu community. We will aim to walk out with an outline or draft of a new participate page.


The following text should be added to the website and has already been approved by MarkShuttleworth but needs editing.

Your participation, in any way you feel best able to contribute, helps make a success of Ubuntu and spread Free Software. We welcome new drive and ideas. Here's how to get started:


  • Join or start a Local Community Team and get involved in Ubuntu advocacy, activities, talks, help install Ubuntu on new users' computers by organizing or attending install parties and provide friendly support in your local community and language.

  • Give a talk at your local Linux User Group or other technical group on Ubuntu! A sample of templates, talks and notes given by others in several languages are available on the wiki.

  • Order CDs from Shipit and distribute them to people as part of larger groups or on your own. Drop them off at LUGs, Internet Cafes or anywhere that people use computers. Share the love! But don't fire and forget, help people to make the most of the Free Software world and to become part of the revolution.

  • In general, you should show your friends the power of Free Software, spread the word and raise general awareness around Ubuntu!


  • Join an email support list or discussion list on the Ubuntu Mailing Lists. The primary support list is ubuntu-users and the primary announcement lists are ubuntu-announce and ubuntu-news.

  • Join the forums and respond to requests for help there.

  • Join the Ubuntu support and discussion IRC channel: #ubuntu on

Share Ideas and Give Feedback

Help steer the direction we take Ubuntu, by describing your vision and ideas for a better server and desktop OS and application stack.

  • Participate in discussions and brainstorming on the Ubuntu Wiki where we work on the fastest-moving documents before they are ready for publication on the main web site.

  • Add your ideas to the Idea Pool for features you'd like to see in Ubuntu, products, marketing suggestions or any other ideas you'd like to add here.

Remember, in the open source world, code counts more than talk so try to find friends or link up with people who can help turn your vision into reality, or start cutting the code yourself if that's your line of interest.


If you get stumped by a problem, chances are good that many other people will be frustrated by it as well. If you are not in a position to write code to change the situation -- for whatever reason -- you can help everyone else out by writing up your experience and documenting the solution! Some of the most constructive ways to get involved in the Ubuntu documentation community might be:

  • Take notes as you puzzle through a problem and then document the solution. Check to see if documentation already exists first. If it does, augment or improve existing documentation. If it doesn't go ahead and add a page in the wiki. Rather than answer a question two or more times, write up the answer and make it available to everyone in the wiki.

  • Read through the HOWTOs and other documentation in the Ubuntu forums, read them over and check them for accuracy, and put them in the wiki.

  • If you are interested in working on the official Ubuntu documentation, you can join the Ubuntu Documentation Team. Information on getting started with the DocTeam is online at the Documentation team "getting started" page.

  • Help clean, proof read, and test the instructions in the community wiki. You can help get an idea of useful tasks in the WikiToDo for more information.


If you are more artistic than literary, you can express that talent and improve the style and feel of the Ubuntu desktop by contributing artwork and helping design the next release of Ubuntu.

Translation and Localization

If your home language is not English but you happen to have really good English skills and are comfortable using software in English, you can make a huge contribution by helping to translate the Ubuntu applications into your home language. Even if you just translate a few lines you may make all the difference to someone in your own country who is just starting to learn about computers and Free Software.

  • Translate applications that are included in Ubuntu into your language using the web-based Rosetta translation system.

  • Translate documents written by the documentation team. These can currently not be done using the Rosetta. Instead, you need to follow the instructions on the Documentation team localization.

  • Translate popular wiki pages within the wiki.
  • In order to handle translation, fonts, and other issues, you should connect with your Local Community "LoCo" Team. LoCo teams often handle this sort of issue.

Quality Assurance and Bugs

Ubuntu, like any piece of software, needs good testers. You can contribute to Ubuntu simply by running the latest version and reporting bugs and helping follow those bugs until they are fixed.

The first steps in getting involved in Ubuntu QA and bug-tracking include:

  • Running the latest development version of Ubuntu, and upgrading regularly.
  • Subscribing to the ubuntu-devel mailing list online and watching it. Many developers post testing and experimental packages to mailing list. Testing CDs are often very under-tested. You can make an important contribution by following the mailing list and reporting bugs and issues that you run into.

Of course, you will run into problems when you run these testing and development version of Ubuntu. Using the software alone is not a contribution; only when you report the bugs that you encounter do you make a meaningful contribution to the Ubuntu community.

  • When you find bugs, you should report bugs into the Ubuntu Bugzilla. You can make sure your bugs are more useful by carefully reading GNOME projects bug HOWTO and description of a good bug.

  • Look through bugs, especially new bugs, to "triage" them and to find, confirm, and close duplicates. This can also involve verifying and reproducing bugs adding information to the bug description.
  • Finally, you can make a huge impact by following up on bugs in packages that you care about and by fixing them!

Programming and Packaging

The final way to make an impact in Ubuntu is by getting your hands on the code. You can make technical contributions to Ubuntu by writing new software, by packaging additional software, and by fixing bugs in software. If you're interested in hacking on Ubuntu:

  • The first step is to join and begin reading the ubuntu-devel mailing list. This is a requirement for anyone who contributes to Ubuntu as a maintainer.

  • When you think you are ready to begin contributing to the Ubuntu team, you can join the Masters of the Universe. The MOTU maintain the packages in universe, which has less strict requirements than the rest of Ubuntu]. You can also look over the MOTU ToDo list. Once you have played an active role in the MOTU, you will be able to move from a universe-only maintainer to an Ubuntu main distribution maintainer.

  • Look through the list of specifications written at the latest Ubuntu conference. You can pick one of these and there should be enough information to begin with an implementation.

  • Help out with the Kubuntu subproject. There is a list of ways to do this on the Helping Kubuntu wiki page.

  • There are some software projects for Ubuntu that are available as paid bounties. You can look through the list of bounties and then submit a proposal and references.

  • Write and package brand new software for Ubuntu. We can get new software into the Ubuntu Universe so that people can try it out and give you feedback, and in time it may become part of the Ubuntu Main portfolio of applications that are installed by default.

Become an Ubuntu Member

Anyone who has made significant contributions to the Ubuntu community can be recognized as an Ubuntu Member. As a Member you will play a role in selecting the Community Council that leads the Ubuntu Project. You will get an email address and business cards too, if you want them! Read more about the Ubuntu membership process, and see also the Ubuntu Code of Conduct which applies to everyone participating in the Ubuntu project, especially the Ubuntu Members who define the goals and vision that drives us.

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UbuntuDownUnder/BOFs/GettingInvolved (last edited 2008-08-06 16:13:48 by localhost)