This article is a part of a series introducing what the Fedora Quality Assurance (QA) team is, what they do, and how you can get involved. If you’ve wanted to get involved with contributing to Fedora and testing is interesting to you, this series explains what it is and how you can get started.
What is Fedora QA?
Fedora is an open source Linux-based operating system with a new release once every six months.The development environment is fast-paced, and with every release, users require new features or updates for existing features. To make sure everything works and performance is improving, testing and quality checks are a must. In Fedora, we have to encompass the user experience as there are thousands and thousands of people who expect a more stable, feature-enriched operating system that gets better with each release.
The Fedora Quality Assurance (QA) team is the group of Fedora contributors that helps cover testing of the software that makes up Fedora. Through various test cases and different hardware, the team goes through important software that makes up Fedora and helps make sure it works as expected.
Understanding the release cycle
Before jumping into getting started, it is important to understand the testing process. Rawhide is an ever-growing “branch” of Fedora where contributors can push their packages. Rawhide is the future of new Fedora development versions where bleeding edge updates are pushed. At regular time intervals, Rawhide will be branched into an alpha release for the next version of Fedora. Rawhide will keep moving forward, but the next version of Fedora will begin taking a more stable form from this point.
If you’re not sure what branched means, it’s when part of Rawhide is “pulled” out for extended testing and refining for the final release. As we reach the branch point, the QA testing cycle switches its focus towards the upcoming release.
Where can you start?
To get started, you will need to register in the Fedora Account System (FAS). Every project needs a contributor to have an account for basic details and logging into different services. FAS is the beginning point for every Fedora contributor and it is used for the entire time you are involved with Fedora.
For quality assurance, a Bugzilla account is a must. No code is 100% bug-free, so whenever you discover an issue, you can file a bug. Someone will then be able to fix your bug once they have enough information, or if you’re looking for a challenge, you can try fixing it yourself! Whichever is the case, a Bugzilla account is an important tool to start off with.
Next, you will need to get a @fedoraproject.org email alias. There are some places in QA where you might need to log in with Mozilla Persona, and it will ask you for your @fedoraproject.org alias. This alias is formatted as
your_FAS_username@fedoraproject.org. These pages will look similar to this.
It is worth noting that to obtain a @fedoraproject.org email alias, you need to be what is called “CLA+1”. This just means you are a member of at least one group or sub-project in Fedora besides signing the Fedora Project Contributor Agreement. With this, you also get a web-hosting space that can be used for hosting projects or packages outside of Copr.
Once you meet the CLA+1 requirement, you will be able to receive mail with your Fedora Project email alias. It is possible to use it for sending email as well, although you will have to use a workaround. There is a wiki page that explains how to do with email clients, or if you use Gmail, you can do it from the web email client.
Now that you have your accounts set up, it’s time that you know what people are working on and where you can chip in.
Introduction to IRC and mailing lists
The QA team mostly uses Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and mailing lists for communicating and working on the project. It’s important to use these tools for contributing as this is where the rest of the team works on testing and quality assurance.
This is a good place to know and interact with others. It’s also good for having 1:1 interactions! IRC is meant for people who want to have a topic-focused discussion. For a variety of different discussion topics, you will find channels for those topics. For Fedora QA, join #fedora-qa. This is a global communication tool, so asynchronous chat happens often.
Never used IRC before or a little bit intimidated? Check out this IRC Beginner’s Guide on the Fedora Magazine for more help getting started.
When you are in doubt, want to have a discussion, get feedback, and/or catch up with what people are doing in other parts of the world, mailing lists are the place to be. A mailing list is a subscription-based tool. You have to subscribe to the list where you want to post to. In Fedora QA, you subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you hit the Login button, you authenticate with Mozilla Persona, your FAS account, or a Yahoo account. To subscribe to the list, you can use any email. You don’t have to use a @fedoraproject.org alias. You should probably avoid subscribing with that email if possible if you don’t have sending set up for it (otherwise you will receive emails but your replies will never make it for others).
The Fedora QA mailing list is very welcoming, so just introduce yourself!
The next post in this series will be talking about how you get involved with QA after introducing yourself and getting familiar with the basic tools like FAS and Bugzilla. Stay tuned!