Joining the GNOME Project
The GNOME project is an international project, with many people from right around the globe
contributing their time and energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While some contributors
are in the fortunate situation to be working on GNOME full time, most work as volunteers
in their free time, and it is without doubt that the project is fueled by the energy and
enthusiasm of this group of people. The success and direction of the project relies on the
efforts and ideas of all GNOME contributors, whether they are working full time or only
have an hour or two to spare each week.
GNOME is an exciting and very dynamic project to be involved in, with an opportunity to
meet some of the best developers and collaborate on cutting edge technology. With the
faith shown by many of GNOME's corporate members, from the likes of Red Hat, Sun
Microsystems and Ximian, the project has flourished into an excellent example of a
successful open source project and a mature, hard working community. There are many reasons
why so many people get involved in the project year after year - from peer
recognition, education and the obvious benefits of working with a broad range of people, to
simply mere curiousity. Most find out that they enjoy it and stay. We hope you will too.
Finding the right level to get involved is not an easy problem. Fortunately due to the
large nature of the GNOME project, we need every level of contribution - programmers,
graphic artists, documentation writers, translators, web designers, software testers,
user interface designers and many, many more. Whatever your particular interests or
skills, we can find a place for your contributions.
Often people find it hard to keep up with the rapid pace of GNOME, and it is almost
impossible to stay up to date with every part of the project. Due to the nature of the
community, which is spread over every timezone, waking up with a full mailbox is a
regular occurance! Luckily GNOME is divided up into several smaller teams -
Accessibility is enabling people with disabilities to participate in substantial
life activities. In order to make GNOME accessible, work must be done from the
base libraries to the end user applications to provide a framework so that
people using screen readers, on-screen keyboards and other assistive devices can
use the software that we take for granted. Accessibility was cast into the
limelight when many laws
, such as
The Rehabilitation Act were introduced right across the world and remains a
very important project within GNOME.
The GNOME bugsquad are responsible for tracking the quality assurance (QA) for
GNOME. They keep track of the current bugs and make sure that important bugs do not
go unnoticed by the developer. Along with these duties, they also 'triage' the
bug tracking system in GNOME, by which they close out duplicate, unproducible and
other not so useful bugs so that these do not clog up the system.
Documentation is another very important project, and many underestimate the size
of the task at hand. The documentation project aims to provide high quality
documentation for use in our desktop and developer platform. There are many end
user applications, developer libraries, tutorials and articles that always need
GNOME is a worldwide project. While many applications are written originally
in some form of English, the majority of people on this planet do not speak
English. To reach our audiences, it is important for GNOME to be translated
into as many different languages as possible. Not only does this mean
end user applications, but also online help, developer documentation and
The usability project strives to make the GNOME experience as pleasant as
possible. One of the main components of making GNOME usable is by defining
and writing a set of user interface guidelines. The usability project
works closely with project maintainers to find existing interaction problems
through user testing and provides mockups and design ideas to fix them.
- Web Design
The GNOME web hackers are responsible for the infrastructure and general
maintainance of the Official GNOME Website,
but also help to look after several other websites like the
GNOME Developers Website.
- Graphic Design
GNOME's graphic design community constantly produce high quality graphics
for icons, backdrops, login screens and splash screens, to name just a few
areas, for use in the GNOME desktop.
- Desktop and Developer Platform
While this isn't a team per se, none of the previous teams would exist without
the large numbers of people contributing code to the GNOME Desktop and Developer
Platform. Whether it is application or library development, or perhaps only
bug fixing, there is always lots of work to be done!
The Leap of Faith
By now you should be familiar with the various groups of people making up
the GNOME project. You may even have a few ideas to get started.
Contributing to GNOME can be a very satisfying experience, yet it can
be frustrating at times. With contributors spread right around the world
communication is key to the success of GNOME, and there are many forms
that people use.
- Mailing Lists
The GNOME Mailing Lists are at
the heart of the project, and you will invariably find a mailing list that suits
your interest. The GNOME mailing lists are run using a program called 'Mailman', which
allows you to easily subscribe and unsubscribe, change preferences and view the
archives at your leisure. Before getting involved, it is often a good idea to read
the mails that are sent for a few days before sending any email. This gives you a good
feel for what is acceptable on a mailing list and, perhaps more importantly, the people
involved. GNOME is a community, not just a project.
Often communicating through mailing lists becomes tiresome, and is appropriate for
'live' conversations. Many conversations happen through IRC (Internet Relay Chat), on
the GNOME IRC server - irc.gnome.org. Using IRC can be very effective and, like
the mailing lists, there are many IRC channels to choose from - #gnome, #docs, #usability,
#i18n and #gnome-hackers to name but a few. Most IRC clients will allow you to get a
complete list of channels from the server for you to join.
While IRC and mailing lists are the most used forms of communication, another step up
is simply picking up the phone. When communication breaks down, this is a very effective
way of getting the ball rolling again. Due to time pressures, teams like the Foundation
Board of Directors and Release Team hold regular conference calls.
- Face to Face
Meeting face to face is by far the best communication, although the hardest since GNOME
is a worldwide conference. Always grab the chance to meet a GNOME contributor, whether that
is at a conference like GUADEC or a person is just
'passing through'. This helps to build relationships and the sense of a team spirit.