Last weekend I joined the Debian Bug Squashing Party (BSP) in Berlin. A BSP is a “party” for people interessted in fixing bugs before the release of the next Debian version. About 5–13 developers sit in a room, everyone stares at their laptop and works on issues that others have reported days, months or years ago. You probably have to like it – but I enjoyed it!
Before the BSP started, I hadn’t fixed a single bug in Debian. Also I had no experience of the bug fixing workflow. I had read the BSP Beginners HOWTO in the Debian Wiki a few days earlier. That helped a little bit. But it turned out, that most current projects use different tools, that are not mentioned in the howto, like git-buildpackage and quilt. And as always in software development, you’ll find an exceptional case, behaving different than expected.
On the first day, I didn’t achive a lot. I got consumed by two bugs I couldn’t fix. But it wasn’t frustrating. I met nice people, got the know the environment and the different bug tracking sites with their filters. That probably set up the stage for the next day. Together with Sascha Steinbiß – who organized this BSP – I selected bugs for the second day, that were more suitable for me. Although I didn’t work on packages that are used by many people, I’m happy, that I could at least send in some patches.
As I said before: You probably have to like it. But for me the concept of a BSP is part of why I love free software: I had no experience with the workflow. After a short email exchange with Sascha, I registered for the event and became part in a world wide project, that got started even before I was born. That’s great and something I’d recommend to every software developer (and student) who uses Debian (or another distribution): Go and check the upcoming BSPs; there might be one near you.
Happy Day everyone!