Contributing to FreeBSD

I’ve talked to a whole bunch of folks who say things like “I’m a junior programmer. I’m looking for a way to help. I have no specific expertise, but I’m willing to learn.” Today, I present such junior programmers with an opportunity. An opportunity for you to learn skills that will be incredibly valuable to your career, and will simultaneously expand your career opportunities.

I’m at the FreeBSD BSDCam devsummit, gathering dirt information for the new Absolute FreeBSD. One of the topics is testing.

For decades, FreeBSD has relied on its users for testing. They expect users to install pre-release versions of the OS and exercise them to identify regressions. That’s necessary, but it’s nowhere near enough.

The FreeBSD Testing Project is building an automated test suite for the entire operating system. They have a whole mess of work to do. There’s only four people on the team, so each additional person that contributes can have a serious impact. They have tutorials on how to write tests, and sample tests.

There’s a whole bunch of tests left to be written. You have an almost open field. They need tests for everything from ls(1) to bhyve. (Yes, ls(1) broke at one point in the last few years.) Everything needs testing. Learning to write, submit, and commit small tests is valuable experience for developing the big tests.

And “I perform automated testing of my own code before the test team gets to see it” is a valuable item on your resume.

What’s more, learning to write tests for a system means learning the system. Developing tests will transform you into a FreeBSD expert. Once you’ve demonstrated your competence, worth, and ability to work within the project, other FreeBSD teams will solicit your help and advice. The Project will suck you in.

Testing is perhaps the most valuable contribution anyone can make to an open source project. And this door into the FreeBSD Project is standing wide, wide open.

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7 Replies to “Contributing to FreeBSD”

  1. If someone wanted to learn about writing tests for FreeBSD automated testing, where would one start?

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