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August 14th, 2017

Wanted: GNU Project Maintainers

Would you like to give Linux a boost by contributing your coding skills in the service of a GNU project? Here’s a partial list of some projects that are looking for a little help.

programming code GNU Linux

Carter’s Corner

While the GNU Project does have some high priority areas that need help, there are currently a list of GNU packages that are needing immediate assistance in keep them maintained. This article is going to cover a little about the purpose of each project, what makes up the project and how to get in touch with that project. I’m only going to touch on half the list this week and cover the rest of the list in the next article. I’m hoping that by writing about these packages, people will be able to contribute some much needed help.

HaliFAX: GNU HaliFAX is a project dedicated to providing a free software fax client package. HaliFAX was originally started as two separate components (GFax and ghfaxviewer) , but those exist now as the two current modules that make up HaliFAX (Sender and Viewer). In the future, HaliFAX is hoping to be able to support an administrative frontend, a client frontend, and a monitoring applet. All those things are currently on hold since the GNU HaliFAX project is currently unmaintained and is looking for someone to take over the lead and become the maintainer. If you are interested in maintaining HaliFAX, then email [email protected] about your skill set and why you would be a perfect fit.

Aspell: GNU Aspell is the FOSS spell checker designed to replace Ispell. Besides being able to check UTF-8 documents without having to use a special dictionary, it mainly serves to suggest possible replacements for misspelled words. Currently Apsell is maintained by Kevin Atkinson, who is looking for a co-maintainer to assist in dealing with the “need to have” and “would like to have” task lists. If you are interested in helping out with Aspell as a co-maintainer or would like to help out in other ways, then email Kevin at [email protected] and let him know you are interested.

Bison: GNU Bison is one of the key tools that make all GNU/Linux distributions possible. Bison is a general-purpose parser generator, which is what a compiler uses to make sense of source code when it is being read in. Bison is compatible with Yacc, so if you know how to use Yacc, you should be able to use Bison. The GNU Bison project is looking for a co-maintainer and the best way to start getting involved is join one of the several mailing lists, which can all be found on the GNU Bison homepage. Anyone looking to assist or co-maintain Bison needs to make sure that their C or C++ skills are up to par since you need to be fluent in one or both in order to properly use Bison.

GnuAE: GnuAE is used for designing photovoltaic and wind powered houses with compliance to the National Electric Code. While being a GNOME/GTK compliant GUI, GnuAE also comes with a database of components and current average prices. Some of the amazing features are its ability to help you judge the total cost of a system through experimenting with options such as propane, DV fridge, or hours of sun. The original intent of GnuAE was to make it easier to wire for NEC code compliance without studying all 800 some pages of the NEC specification. Like the other GNU projects, there is a list of “like to haves” as well as a list “need to haves”. GnuAE is currently maintained by Rob Savoye, who is looking for someone to become a co-maintainer and assist in the work needed for GnuAE. If you are interested in GnuAE, then email [email protected] about your skill set and why you would be a perfect fit.

Even if you aren’t looking to become a GNU maintainer, all of these projects do need help with bugs fixes, reporting bugs, testing, writing documentation, and general development. I encourage everyone to email these projects and see what you can do to help. You don’t have to spend hours every week helping, but an hour or two here and there would go along way for each of these projects.

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Isaac Carter

In addition to hosting a Raspberry Pi meetup in Washington D.C., Isaac Carter is a co-host on mintCast. He's also a software engineer who enjoys working with Java, JavaScript, and GNU/Linux. When he's not coding, you can find him reading on any number of subjects or on the golf course.

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