Contributing to Fedora: Testing Packages

Contribution to Fedora comes in many forms. Here’s a common misconception about contributing: “I’m not a developer, so what do they need me for?” However, there are many ways for non-developers to contribute to Fedora. One way is package testing. Before a new version of a package lands in the updates repository, it passes through a staging area. This article tells you how to help an update get through that process.

Testing a package with Bodhi

Bodhi is Fedora’s package update system. It acts as a gatekeeper between new package releases and the stable repositories. Fedora packagers stage new releases of their packages in an “update.” They then submit the update to a testing repository and request feedback about the stability of the package.

Feedback consists of comments, and either a positive or negative “karma” vote. Once a package gets enough positive karma, the package submitter can push the package to the stable repositories.

Here’s one way you can test a specific package

  1. Sign in with a FAS account (you may need to create one first).
  2. Find a package to test by browsing packages for Fedora 28 that await testing.
  3. Install or upgrade the package from the updates-testing repository.
    dnf upgrade --enablerepo=updates-testing geary
  4. Run the packaged software. If the packager asked for tests of a specific bug, try to reproduce that bug. If you can’t, give the package a “+1”! In case the package doesn’t work as expected, leave a helpful comment, explaining what went wrong.
  5. After testing, restore the stable versions with distro-sync.
    dnf distro-sync

Giving feedback with fedora-easy-karma

The fedora-easy-karma package helps you give karma to any testing update currently installed. Run it with a pattern to match only specific packages. Or run it without a pattern to match all packages.

The following example scans the computer for all testing updates that begin with gnome-.

$ fedora-easy-karma gnome-*
...

Follow the interactive steps to give karma and comment on each package.

Test some packages today!

Get started by helping to test some packages today, such as these currently in testing:

Fedora Project community

4 Comments

  1. That is cool. I was not aware that, testing Fedora packages is easy like this. Thank you for the information.

  2. Pat Kelly

    I’m sorry to admit that even though I’ve written my share of software, mostly I’ve taken the OS for granted. Back at F16 time I abandon that other os and everything here has been Fedora ever since. I’ve not been one to dive deeply and broadly into the OS. I learn what I need to know about the OS as I go along.

    I test packages when I know what a package is and have an idea of how to test it. As it turns out, most of the time, the package names aren’t much help; so when I see one where the package name seems like something I might be able to do something with, I look it up with dnfdragora. I look to see if it’s something that I have installed. If it is then I read the description to see if it seems like something I could come up with a test routine for. Most of the time I end up with little or no idea of what it does; let alone how to test it. As a result I do relatively little testing, but I do try to be thorough in the testing I do.

    I find I can help out more with release testing of the next version of Fedora. Though I do have trouble with “regression” testing. The “no worse than last time” is a sour taste to someone raised in a high reliability engineering environment, but I’ve made peace with that.

    I’d like to help out more, but it’s been hard to find opportunities.

    • Hi Pat,

      Don’t be sorry! We are many..

      I am a bit of a control freak, and switched to linux many years ago – for that reason. However, I find it a bit of a jungle with all packages and what they do. Can anyone point me in the direction of a learning path that includes the “what’s new” in linux?

      Thanks!

      • Pat Kelly

        Yes, that’s one of the things I really like about Fedora. That there is a whole bunch of people working on it because they want to and not because someone told them to. “Want to” is probably an understatement. I think many have a lot more in it than just “want to”.

        My learning path is currently being driven by things I need to do my work and maintain the PCs here. Currently I am working on learning about the various schema of keys used to configure and control how things work so I can automate the settings on the PCs here.

        Have a Great Day!

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