With Mageia 8 just released and development for Mageia 9 getting underway in Cauldron, the unstable branch of Mageia, now is a great time to get involved with packaging.
We are starting to look at the features that we want to include for Mageia 9, and as it is so early in the development cycle, now is the time for major developments, or big updates to key pieces of software. This is a great time to join the project as you can propose features you would like to see, help to implement large changes or see how a distribution evolves through development, stabilisation and then is released.
If there is an application that you are interested in, if you want to help maintain part of the distribution, or if you want to learn something new, there are many opportunities to do so with the packaging team.
Those who have knowledge of rpm packaging that want to jump straight in might want to skip the next section and head over to the Becoming a Mageia Packager page here on the Mageia wiki.
Packaging a piece of software involves taking the source code from the upstream developer and turning it into something that is easily managed by the end-users of an installed Mageia system. This involves making sure that the package has all of the needed dependencies to both build and run correctly, as well as tuning the configuration of the build and installed software to be optimal for the Mageia ecosystem. This is done by writing a spec file that is used as a recipe to build an installable rpm package.
The layout of the spec file is very logical and can be followed with minimal programming experience. All that’s needed to get to grips with the basics are initiative, enthusiasm, and the will to learn. There is a good breakdown of what’s in a spec file and how it works here.
So, if you want to jump in and get involved, the next step is to make a Mageia account and follow the guide here. It will explain the next steps of getting set up and finding a mentor. There are also mailing lists and IRC channels (#mageia-dev) if you want to ask questions about what is involved.