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Contributing code

Philipp Wiesemann edited this page May 26, 2016 · 14 revisions

Welcome! Whether you just want to contribute a few patches, or be an active developer on LXQt, your help is greatly appreciated. LXQt is exclusively a volunteer effort. Finding people willing to contribute isn't always easy. That is why every bit of help can make huge differences.

Let's get you started.

Development environment

Due to its modular approach, you do not have to have every bit of LXQt compiled and installed by hand in order to work on it. As long as you have a recent version of liblxqt, you can likely use a prepackaged version of LXQt as your day-to-day Desktop Environment. The Arch Linux AUR makes this very easy and is the preferred distribution for LXQt developers.

KDevelop is an excellent Qt-based IDE for C++ and due to it being a KDE project, integrates really well with Qt projects. However, you will find that you do not necessarily need a full-blown IDE to contribute. Several developers work on LXQt off their favourite text editor - JuffEd, Kate, or even Vim.

Say for example you want to contribute to lxqt-runner. It is as simple as cloning the repository, then running:

  • mkdir build && cd build
  • cmake ..
  • make

You can then run your self-compiled runner with ./lxqt-runner. No installation necessary.

Getting your changes merged

We use git. Our repositories are on GitHub. A basic understanding of git is required in order to contribute - there's plenty of tutorials on the web, look around!

Still with our earlier lxqt-runner example, let's say you want to implement a new feature.

Your first step should be to see if there is an existing issue for it. If there is, make sure to leave a note that you want to work on it. Once you have written the code for it, you will have to fork the repository, commit your changes and push them to your fork. Your next step will then be to file a pull request ("PR") with the LXDE repository ("upstream"). There, your changes will be reviewed by a developer and you may be asked to change or fix a few things. You do so by continuing to commit (or modifying existing commits) on your fork, and then running git push as you normally would - the pull request will be automatically updated. (Note that if you modified existing commits in your PR, you will have to run git push --force.)

Eventually, the developer will recognize your PR as "Good To Merge" ("GTM"). Depending on the size of the changes, it will then be merged straight away or it will require the input of more developers.

If you regularly contribute good code and are interested in joining the developer team, you will eventually get commit access. Keep at it!

New commiter

Once you got commit access don't run loose. Take care to not break something. In case of small changes you can just push them, but if you are not totally sure then rather file a PR and get at least one "GTM" from another developer. For big changes maybe even wait for three GTMs.

Nobody is perfect, so in case you made a wrong commit which you would like to revert, do a:

git reset --hard <hash>
git push --force

Where <hash> is the last good commit. Forced pushes can be dangerous when you are working in a team. Only do this immediately after your commit, so chances are small someone already made another commit on top of your wrong one. You can break the tree if you don't take care. Don't do this.

Clean commits

To help getting your changes merged, please make sure your commits are clean!

  • The surrounding code style should be respected. We also use 4 spaces for indentation everywhere. No mixed indents, no trailing whitespaces, and nothing unreadable!
  • In most cases, the code should have no debug statements left over from testing and no commented out functionality.
  • The commits themselves should be clean! Each commit should be working independently, add one feature/fix per commit and the commit messages should be descriptive of the change and properly spelled/capitalized. This is important for bisecting bugs and reading the log pleasantly.
  • Tip: Learn, use and abuse git rebase --interactive. It will help you edit, clean and squash your existing commits. There are lots of excellent tutorials on how to use it.
  • Make sure to set your git config --global and so that your real name and email can be available in the commit logs.

Notes for usage of specific features

Getting help

Feeling lost? Need mentoring? Do not hesitate to ask for help. There are several points of contact, all of which you should monitor if your goal is to be active on LXQt.

  • The lxde-list mailing list. All LXDE and LXQt matters are discussed there, it is both a user and developer list.
  • The #lxde channel on Freenode. Like the mailing list, it is both a user and developer corner. There is also a channel on OFTC which is more oriented towards LXDE-GTK.
  • The LXQt issue tracker itself. Every developer monitors it and you should not hesitate to ask for help, feedback and general input on issues there. It also helps a lot in keeping track of who is working on what.

Good luck!

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