I have been accepted to participate in Round 9 of the GNOME Outreach Program. During the next 12 weeks, I will work on AppArmor in Debian with Holger Levsen and intrigeri as mentors.
The Outreach Program
I first heard about the Outreach Program first through the Debian Women mailing list several months ago and decided back then that I would apply for the next round if Debian is part of it.
Over at Debian, the application process was open and happened through the Debian Wiki. Thus, all applicants were able to see the other applications. This was quite interesting, though very intimidating for me. The other applicants all looked like very strong candidates! The two other women who will work for Debian during this round are Jinjie Jiang (Debsources) and Virginia King (improving documentation of the Debian bug tracking system).
I am very happy to be able to participate in this program, as I am not a student anymore, and thus not able to participate in GSoC or similar programs. As a freelance worker who needs to pay rent, I need the help offered by the Outreach Program in order to be able to spend a reasonable amount of time on Free Software, in this case on AppArmor in Debian.
AppArmor is a Linux Security Module which makes it possible to confine applications. This happens through profiles which are specifically written to restrain the application’s access to parts of the file system, and by specifically allowing access to other parts.
It is not yet widely deployed in Debian, although it has been around for quite some time and is shipped by default in Ubuntu and OpenSuse. During the internship, I shall set up documentation in order to make it easier for Debian Developers to adopt AppArmor and will also try to work out a means which makes it easier for an average user to install and activate the AppArmor package in Debian.
- Install a testing environment: Debian Sid.
- Read the AppArmor documentation on the Debian wiki.
- Read the usertag documentation of Debian’s Bug Tracker.
And now for a pretty long footnote.
I have been using Debian for about 10 years, but it was only recently that I actually managed to make my first contribution.
What took me so long?
There are several issues here, some of which I can grasp and try to detail a little bit:
- I was busy with life.
I have a lot of work and other projects, and thus, the amount of time I am able to spend on reading documentation on how to actually contribute to Free Software is quite limited. If there is documentation available at all.Recently, I improved my technique of procrastinating productively. That is, everytime I have a free moment, I try to work or read up on something I am interested in but would not have the time to do otherwise.
- I did not know where or how to start.
It was not obvious for me to find out where the code/repository/documentation for a particular project/package is to be found. Or where to look for it. Who to talk to.You might say that I did not look hard enough. That the Debian Wiki contains a lot of information. That there are many mailing lists and IRC channels out there. That the package tracker contains links to everything you need to know about a package, and if you still don’t get it, you can download its files, and read through the source… (that is now more obvious to me, but I find it quite a high barrier).Actually, it was not obvious to me at all, that there was a huge social dimension in particular in Debian. Which I appreciate! But it is hard to grasp in first place.That’s why, for a long time, most of my contributions to Free Software were for example translations over at Transifex.In the past, I have also written some WordPress plugins for my daily work and managed to publish them to Wordpress’ plugin repository. This was made possible by their well written and straight to the fact documentation and interface, allowing me to simply upload my code and ask for review.
- Impostor syndrome.
As many others, I am often underestimating myself. I would say of myself that I have a particular skill only if I perfectly master that skill. Other than that, I consider myself a beginner most of the time. This is certainly due to the fact that one compares oneself always to the Best. Being in touch with several great developers and hackers, I would always think that I am not good enough, although I slowly come to realize that this is not true and a much too simplistic point of view.