So you love Distro Astro and would like to help out. Here are several ways to get involved.
There are tons of astronomy software out there that are not in the Ubuntu and Debian repositories. Help us package them!
In Distro Astro, our main criteria for inclusion in our repository is usefulness to the astronomical community. So if you believe some software should be in our repos, feel free to package them and submit your package to Distro Astro.
If you have never created a Debian package before, the Debian New Maintainers’ Guide provides a very detailed reference on package creation.
Furthermore, once you submit packages to us, we encourage you to submit your package upstream to Debian Science. When a package makes it to Ubuntu LTS, we can remove it from our repositories.
The magic of Distro Astro is not just in the software we collect, but the manner which we put them together to make the distribution useful to astronomers. We believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thus we want the software to work together, and not just be there together.
This is where custom development comes in. We want to improve the experience of using the distro as a whole. So if you have experience developing software for Linux, feel free to ask us which tasks need contributions and let us know how you would like to help.
Bug testing is an important part of a software distribution. Let us know of any problems you find! We plan to put up a public bug-tracking system soon.
We can only fix bugs on things we did, e.g., packages in our repositories, features unique to our distribution, etc. We do not have the capacity to fix upstream bugs in Mint/Ubuntu/Debian or their included software. Fortunately, these are open source projects and you can file your bug reports directly to the upstream source.
If you have experience creating themes, icons, screensavers, and artwork for Linux, come join us. We would love to have new themes. We also hope to improve usability of our Nightvision theme. Let us know if you are up to it.
We are also open to new logo and website designs in time for the release of the next version, hopefully in June. Logos should be vector and web pages should be valid HTML+CSS.
And for the rest of us who are neither the techie nor the artist types, which is the majority of users, you can help us out by simply promoting the Distro Astro project to your friends. Talk about it in your blogs or public forums, and post in social networks. The more people who hear of Distro Astro, the better!
We need forums, mailing lists, documentation, public bug tracking databases, and other infrastructure necessary to build a community around an open source project. These require bandwidth and disk space, both of which are limited in our current hosting agreement. We appreciate any offers to set these up for us or provide hosting for them.
And this is just the beginning. After this is set up we will need volunteers to maintain them and community leaders to build a passionate group of avid users and supporters!
The more servers and countries hosting our ISO files, the better. Downloads are slower if more people download from the same server, and by distributing it around the world we increase download speed for everyone.
And for ordinary folks like us who don’t own servers, you can help by downloading our torrent file and seeding it.
Being in a third-world country has its disadvantages—hardware seems more expensive compared to our monthly wages. Our desktop PC is an obsolete 32-bit Dual-core Pentium 4 machine. Now if some philanthropist will donate a slightly more modern machine it would go a long way and allow us to build a 64-bit version of Distro Astro.
And there are other ways to help in hardware. You can test the INDI library and other included software with your astronomical equipment such as telescopes, focusers, and CCDs and report how well they work, as well as workarounds to problems you encountered.
We created Distro Astro because of our passion for astronomy and love for Linux. We are otherwise ordinary people with families to feed and bills to pay. You can give us more time to work on this project by donating through PayPal.
The universe is a wonderful place to discover and your donation will help us spread the joy of discovery to more people.