View Full Version : A desire to contribute...but how?

November 12th, 2006, 09:55 AM
I'd love to be able to contribute to the Ubuntu community in anyway I can. Unfortunately, my limited Linux and programming knowledge restricted me to only being able to ask questions with problems that I've had with getting my two Ubuntu machines (a desktop and a laptop) up and running.

Hopefully, this won't always be the case. I'm a little over a year into my Computer Science classes and have some very limited C and C++ knowledge. What sorts of things can I do in the meantime? Also, what languages in particular are useful to programming in Ubuntu?

Thanks :)

November 12th, 2006, 10:01 AM
Well one good idea if you're running Ubuntu as your main OS is to report any bugs you find, this is possibly the best way to help developers without having to become one yourself.

Helping out users on the forums is always good, and I know that quite a few OSS projects are looking for people to write up or improve documentation.

As for language, I'd say Python seems to be the choice higher level language for Ubuntu, used for quite a few GUI apps, scripts and others where as most of the complex Gnome/Kernel stuff is C. KDE is C++.

I'm in much the same situation as you (just finished 1st year uni).

November 12th, 2006, 10:17 AM
Hopefully, this won't always be the case. I'm a little over a year into my Computer Science classes and have some very limited C and C++ knowledge.

If you have free time, learn and practise these languages yourself! Bruce Eckel's Thinking in C++ (http://www.mindview.net/Books/DownloadSites) books are both excellent and free. Then try a few small practise projects on your own, and, once you've sharpened your skills and can get programs working well and efficiently, find a project (a small one might be best, rather than something like, say, Apache) and volunteer to help. Working on someone else's code - especially if it is of a high standard - is very, very good practise and will teach you a lot of stuff.

As for languages themselves - generally, learning a language is much less important than having a good understanding of algorithms and being able to design and implement software well. Someone with these skills will generally be able to work with a brand-new language in a few days, and become reasonably proficient after a few (intensive!) months or weeks. You can't really go wrong with C, C++, Python and Ruby, though :)

November 12th, 2006, 10:53 AM

November 12th, 2006, 03:50 PM

November 12th, 2006, 05:16 PM
Thanks, everyone :)

November 12th, 2006, 07:14 PM
After running Ubuntu on your machine, even for a few months, you will notice that you are able to answer many of the question newbies ask on these forums. Just answering these questions politely is already a great service to the community.

If you wish to contribute through programming, you should probably learn how to code for KDE or Gnome. That is, learn GTK or QT. I'm afraid they are quite different from each other and are not too intuitive (when compared to Microsoft's GUI building tools in Visual Studio.) However, there are excellent tutorials all over the web, and your C and C++ skills will come in very handy.

Another idea for a programmer is to make quality games for GNU/Linux. Unlike in Windows, there are not too many good games natively supported by this platform, so if you make something interesting and cool, people will play and be thankful. If you want to create smooth graphical games, you should learn SDL (which by the way is portable to Windows and Mac OS.) Your game doesn't have to be a fancy 3D shooter or anything (we have enough of those anyway.) A simple 2D game like Frozen Bubble can be very successful.

November 12th, 2006, 07:48 PM
I would absolutely love to be able to program for Ubuntu...even a simple game, like you mentioned. As a gamer, one of the main things that pained me when switching over to Linux was the lack of games. But, like you mentioned, a game doesn't need to have amazing graphics to be good. Wesnoth is one of the best strategy games I've played, bested only by Advance Wars, and I'd be thrilled to put something like that out for the Linux/Ubuntu community.

I'm probably not quite to that point with my programming now, but I'll look into those languages you've mentioned.

November 12th, 2006, 08:26 PM
Prospective python programmers are welcome to learn from me, im or email and/or the dohickey project is always welcome to patches.

November 14th, 2006, 02:16 PM
I'm open to any advice/links you can give me. I looked at the Wikipedia entry on it, briefly and browsed their guide. It seems pretty helpful.

November 14th, 2006, 03:09 PM
From me? slighly confuised at the context of your post.

November 16th, 2006, 04:57 PM
From me? slighly confuised at the context of your post.

Yep, or anyone who has something they think would be helpful. Sorry for being vague.