In his presentation, Ian covered:
Many people think that if they are not writing Linux or OpenOffice then they can't contribute to the open source community. That is not so although you might surprise yourself and end up doing that anyway as I did! I will talk to you about what anybody can do and over time you will find your skills increase.
You using open source software anywhere you can helps. You end up getting others interested, see what problems there are and help resolve them.
in particular if you are using a proprietary program see what else you can find instead.
WLUG Wiki is one of the best in the world (http://wlug.org.nz). I don't say this lightly – we end up getting users all around the world using the Wiki and we should be rightly proud of it.
Please don't be scared to make a change to a page. I get a few e-mails saying – can you change this page as I have more info. Be brave and do it yourself! If you get it wrong then somebody will fix it. If your spelling or grammar is bad don't worry about that either as somebody will fix it too.
Review the changes going on at RecentEdits
CVS – traditional. Concept of branches of code so that bug fixes, changes can be supplied to multiple branches.
This is one of the weakest areas in open source. Once you have used a program for a while see how you can improve the documentation. If you know another language that can be even more useful as often there is not much help besides English.
At some point in time somebody will “flame” you. This means somebody attacks you and sometimes it can be personal. It can be quite vicious. Try not to get upset – just reply or ignore it.
If you flame then that's fine but you've got to be just as prepared to eat humble pie when you get it wrong as you will
Please submit code upstream – a lot of people fix a problem, add a feature and then don't share it with the world.
It is very unusual for code to be accepted first time. Don't be put off but fix what people say.
Vendors often ship modified code and tweak it, rather than use upstream version.
If confident download code from source, compile and see if problem is still there. Try and get the version that is their latest development version as invariably the answer will be “upgrade to the latest version” if you are using an old version.
If not confident then go to your LinuxDistribution site and submit on their bug system.
Look for the bug already being reported on their bug system or mailing list to avoid unnecessary duplicates. You might however be able to add additional information.
Most projects need people to test bugs as often people don't submit enough information.
Need testing for fixes to verify that problem is really fixed.
Download latest betas and test them. Often there are not many people testing new software which is why there are problems with new releases.
However don't reinvent the wheel. It might be better to reinvigorate a near-dead project or help add new features to an existing project.