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Linux Tools Project/Getting Involved

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Getting involved in the Linux Tools project is easy and new contributors are always welcome! Many committers hang out on #eclipse-linux on Freenode and we all monitor our mailing list, linuxtools-dev@eclipse.org.

General Information

A good guide to fixing Eclipse bugs can be found in this article by Remy Suen.

Getting Code

Our code is all maintained in the Eclipse Foundation Git server. It is best to check out the code directly into Eclipse. To do so, install EGit and clone from one of the following URLs:

git://git.eclipse.org/gitroot/linuxtools/org.eclipse.linuxtools.git

http://git.eclipse.org/c/linuxtools/org.eclipse.linuxtools.git/

ssh://<committerId>@git.eclipse.org/gitroot/linuxtools/org.eclipse.linuxtools.git

Be sure to select "Import existing projects".

Submitting "Patches"

We currently see the majority of contributions coming in through Gerrit, which is our code review tool. This would be the ideal way to contribute to the project. To learn more about setting up Gerrit, see http://wiki.eclipse.org/Gerrit.

Another way to submit "patches" is by creating your own publicly-available Git fork and then filing pull requests in Bugzilla: https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/enter_bug.cgi?product=Linux%20Tools. Just note the SHA-1 you'd like merged. A bit of documentation about this from an Eclipse IP/process standpoint is here.

Actual patch files (textual differences between two versions of one or more files) must be generated against the Git repository. Use EGit from within Eclipse -- see "Create Patch" in the context menu of a commit SHA-1 and the EGit user guide's section on creating patches. Ensure the patch can be applied from within Eclipse and attach it with rationale, a bit of background information, etc. to a bug:

https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/enter_bug.cgi?product=Linux%20Tools

Automated Builds

We use the Eclipse Hudson server to run continuous integration builds when changes are pushed to our Git repository. Every 6 hours we poll for Git changes and if they have occurred, we run a full build using Tycho and run all unit tests. See instructions for building locally for how to perform a full local build. More information on our automated build process is available on our release engineering page. The unit tests results and output of the build including logs can be seen on our Hudson job pages:

Sonar is also used to analyse the codebase: https://dev.eclipse.org/sonar/dashboard/index/1878

Ways to get involved

Plugin Hacking

Eclipse plugins are written in Java and developed using Eclipse itself. It is easy to get started.

You can find the Contributor Guide with links to setting up your development environment here

  1. Ensure you have the Eclipse Plugin Development Environment installed
  2. See "Getting Code" section above and check out plugin source code
  3. If you have errors (little red 'x's) before ever having made changes to code, it means that you are missing plugin dependencies. Resolve them by setting your Target Platform to the one packaged with Linux Tools (see Target Platform). Alternatively, you can manually install the dependencies ("C/C++ Development Tools" and "BIRT Framework" are good starting points) or check out the source for all of these dependencies into Eclipse
  4. Verify that the plugins work by running them:
    1. Right-click on any of the plugins and select Run As -> Eclipse Application to launch a second instance of Eclipse (aka 'runtime workbench')
    2. By default, Eclipse will run all plugins in your workspace PLUS all plugins that are running the host Eclipse workbench
    3. Ensure menu items and general plugin functionality are present and correct in your runtime workbench
    4. If something is missing, perhaps modify the run configuration that got created for you (Run->Run Configurations under Eclipse Application) to only have the plugins you care about (Plug-ins tab; add dependencies with "Add Required Plug-ins")
    5. "Validate Plug-Ins" is a good button to press to see if you have issues
    6. Hop on #eclipse-linux (Freenode) or email linuxtools-dev@eclipse.org if you have trouble
  5. Make changes, debug, set breakpoints, etc.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • Eclipse plugin development
  • Java
  • Underlying tool experience if developing an Eclipse plugin to interact with an existing tool

Time commitment: as much or as little as possible

Target Platform

Eclipse offers the ability to set target platforms, which will download a specific environment to run your plugins, without having to "pollute" your Eclipse install. Linux Tools ships target definition files, which is the recommended way of installing its dependencies.

To set the target platform for the Linux Tools plugins:

  • Open the "org.eclipse.linuxtools.target" project, if it is not already open.
  • In the Preferences menu (Window->Preferences), select Plug-in Development->Target Platform. This will show a list of all available target definitions.
  • Check the box next to the Linux Tools target definition (linuxtools-e4.4, at the time of this writing), and click "Apply" or "OK".

Eclipse will now download the required dependencies, which may take some time the first time.

Unit Tests

One area that is great for new contributors to help with is writing and stabilizing unit tests and SWTBot tests. Right-clicking on a plugin that has "test" in its name and selecting Run As -> JUnit Plugin Test (or Run As -> SWTBot Test, if the plugin contains at least one SWTBot test) will run that plugin's tests. They should all pass. We can always use more tests written and they are a good way to learn the code. A tool such as EclEmma can be used to determine unit test coverage and those plugins with low percentages are the best places to start.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • Eclipse plugin development
  • Java
  • JUnit and SWTBot
  • Underlying tool experience if developing an Eclipse plugin to interact with an existing tool

Time commitment: a few hours per week

eclipse-build (building the Eclipse SDK)

One aspect of our project is to increase the quality and quantity of Eclipse technology in Linux distributions. A key aspect of this is the building of the Eclipse SDK. We call our efforts here "eclipse-build". Our work is kept in our Git repository:

http://git.eclipse.org/c/linuxtools/org.eclipse.linuxtools.eclipse-build.git/

Be sure to use EGit from within Eclipse to generate patches directly against Git that will be applicable with Eclipse.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • ant
  • p2
  • OSGi
  • PDE Build

Time commitment: a few hours per week

Release Engineering

Our automated builds are generally in good shape. Project committers usually fix build problems quickly but there are always things we could do to make the builds more useful to developers. Adding tools to the automated builds such as PMD, FindBugs, EMMA, etc. can really help developers find problems. Now that we are using Tycho, it should be relatively simple to add such analysis tools. Contact our mailing list linuxtools-dev@eclipse.org if you are interested in helping in this area.

When it comes time for a release, many tasks are necessary: branching, tracking bugs, tagging, running builds, verifying results, etc. Help in this area is always appreciated. If you see traffic on the mailing list indicating that a release is pending (these are listed in our project plan), or notice that a planned release date is upcoming, email the list announcing your availability and how you can help.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

Time commitment: varies per level but not very much

Documentation

Some of our plugins have user guides. These are generated using Mylyn WikiText (Wiki Text User Guide). There are build-helper.xml files in the various doc plugins (ex. Valgrind's build-helper.xml) which can be modified (to reflect local Eclipse installation paths) and used to generate the HTML and fetch any new images which can then be committed to the git repo. A quick guide of how to build this Valgrind example can be found here.

We could use more of them and a probably a nice guide to tie them all together. It would also be nice to gather screenshots for the documentation upon each release.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • command of the written English language
  • MediaWiki syntax
  • Minor graphics editing

Time committment: a few hours per week

Testing and Bug Filing

Our project can always use more users. Users who provide constructive criticism and suggestions are very welcome. Bugs should be filed via this URL:

https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/enter_bug.cgi?product=Linux%20Tools

Linux_Tools_Project/Manual Testing is also performed at the very least in the weeks and days prior to a release.

We have regular (up to 3 or 4 times per day) automated builds which are available for installation via our nightly p2 repository:

http://download.eclipse.org/linuxtools/updates-nightly

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • Installing and updating Eclipse plugins from an update site
  • Bugzilla
  • Communication via Bugzilla, email/IRC
  • Expected functionality of plugins
  • (Sometimes) Underlying tool knowledge
  • (Sometimes) Running Eclipse plugins from within Eclipse workbench

Time committment: a few hours per week

Bug Triage

Sometimes bugs are filed against the wrong component or are stuck in a state requiring more information or clarification. Other times, bugs have been fixed but have not been marked as such in Bugzilla. Ensuring patches which are accepted have the iplog flag set to "+" and verifying that the Version and "Target Milestone" are set correctly are ways one can help. Helping to move the bug process along is of great help to the project. All open project bugs can be seen here.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • Bugzilla
  • Communication via Bugzilla, email/IRC
  • Expected functionality of plugins

Time committment: a few hours per week

Web and Wiki

Our website and wiki pages can always use beautification, clarification, and general editing. One good example that could use cleanup is our release engineering page. The website can be checked out of CVS by using this PSF. For assistance with using this project set file, see PSF.

Patches for the website can be submitted here.

Helpful knowledge and skills:

  • Web design
  • Command of the written English language
  • MediaWiki syntax
  • Minor graphics editing

Time committment: a few hours per week (more if desired)