November 8th & 9th, 2024
Love SeaGL and want to help out? Get Involved

How to get started contributing to FLOSS projects

SeaGL 2015

Since we’re at this conference, we probably all are involved in Free Software or Open Source projects to some degree, even if only as users. Lots of us want to help, but it’s hard to know where to start!

In this talk we’ll look at some common tools and processes prerequisite for involvement in most Open Source or Free Software projects, including but not limited to the following:

This talk is itself a Free Software project. The source lives at and it is DocBook XML.

Introduction: FLOSS contribution is like Social Media writ large

Ways to Contribute:

  • Bug crushing
  • Documentation
  • Media assets
  • Code monkeying


  • Introduction to GPG and its various uses incl. the Debian Keyring.
  • Email lists, joining vs following via NNTP gateway vs gmane or other Web gateway; list etiquette
  • How to IRC; why to IRC; why IRC is still a thing when $FLASHY_NEW_CHAT_APP is clearly superior


  • How to read source code
  • How to find problems
  • How to make patches
  • Why VCS is important and how to do it (not the only way)
  • TIMTOWTDI vs. TIOOWTDI and other Holy Wars and Crusades, and how to remain unbloodied.


  • Finding help / mentors / mentees
  • Submitting patches
  • How to be a good VCS citizen

And more (or possibly less once I figure out timing)

Notes are available as I compose them at


Andrew Kane

Andrew Kane, GSLUG

just trying to help