How to contribute to Skolelinux/Debian Edu
(a GNU+Linux distribution for the community)

The Skolelinux-project is eager to get more participants to join in the common effort to ensure universal access to technology for youth and adults.

The July 20th 2004 Daniel Ajoy wrote:

We are very interested in becoming part of your project by providing Spanish translations as needed and helping to improve the distribution.

This is great! We are really in need of your helping hands with both translations and testing.

How should we start this collaboration?

When it comes to translation of user programs, the Spanish speaking people are head away translating GNOME and KDE applications compared with other countries.

When it comes to documentation and web-publishing of user centric documentation, we really needs a helping hand. Unfortunately we currently have a older "ICT Administration Manual" that's translated to English. Klaus Ade Johnstad has made a new and better book, “Debian in Schools: Running a Skolelinux Network”. He will reorganize the book this autumn to include more feedback from teachers from many of the > 125 schools that uses Skolelinux in Norway. Anyway, when the "Running a Skolelinux network" is translated to English, we really need it translated to Spanish. We also need translations of a lot of documents with Tips and Tricks that makes the daily running operations with Skolelinux a breeze.

We are now in a process of making the Skolelinux/Debian Edu ready for Debian Sarge (the next version of Debian). Joey Hess and Finn-Arne Johansen is eager to get you testing test-versions of the next version of Skolelinux.

Subscribing and mentoring

The way to start is to subscribe to the debian-edu mailing list. Then you need a cvs-account on the Skolelinux developer server.

Then you need mentoring to help you with lot of the "what to do now" questions :-). Mentoring is done at the IRC-channel #debian-edu at the server: and on the mailing list. When your contributors have joined the mailing list and the #debian-edu, we'll take it from there :-).

Governing principles

Skolelinux is governed by a do-ocracy governing model. The people that does something decides. We also use the practice of "dugnad". Dugnad is a traditional Norwegian word indicating voluntary work, for example farmers who help each other in the harvesting period. As farmers you can sell the crop after it's harvested, even if the work is done organised as a dugnad. People work together to solve big tasks which is in our mutual benefit. The effort can be done with no monetary reward, or you can earn money as the GNU-licence clearly permits. The reward is given us by the daily benefit of using the results from the joint effort. Dugnad is selected to be the national word in Norway. It's no real British equivalent. The Americans call it a "bee".

It's not up to the Norway or Germany part of Skolelinux to decide what's best for the schools and communities on other continents :-). So it's really up to you to make the most of what Skolelinux gives you. It's really important for us to emphasize the do-ocracy governing principle and helping each other harvesting with a dugnad. If you are living in Europa you should probably help countries in Africa to help them self with computers as FAIR does in Norway.

Deliver is king

Just start delivering Skolelinux. Working with free software is a meritocratic activity. There are no need to contact international companies to start adapting Skolelinux. Don't wait for the bureaucracy in your community to understand what's happening. You don't need to contact Skolelinux either. Just start with helping a school in the neighbourhood, or even better; Help whole communities with installing and using the systems. Use the independent usability studies from The Statskonsult and the wast deployments of Skolelinux in many countries to argue if people are against your effort to deliver. Use the methods from the Participatory Design to make the teachers helping them self. It should be even more easy with the teacher friendly documentation. Just do it!

Your not alone

You will get more out of your work when teaming up with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project. Don't hesitate to subscribe to the debian-edu mailing list. The Skolelinux project has a lover entry point compared to what's usual in free developer projects where the contributors often are fully fledged software developers. Just join us!


Knut Yrivn July 21th 2004