Issue #8 June 2005

Fedora™ Extras: Everything but the kitchen sink

When the Fedora Project was launched two years ago, one of the goals was to have a high quality repository of software packaged by community members to complement the variety of software included in Fedora Core. With the amount of cool and new open source software being developed every day, it's just not possible to include all of it in Fedora Core without ending up with a ten DVD distribution. Thus, the vision of Fedora Extras was formed.

With the release of Fedora Core 4, that vision is now a reality. Fedora Extras was built and ready to go at the same time as the Fedora Core 4 release on all three architectures (x86, x86_64, and ppc).

Getting the software

Currently, there are about 1000 packages included in the Extras repository as contributed by over 100 developers across the world. Developers commit their packages to the source repository on cvs.fedora.redhat.com and then kick off a build across all of the architectures supported by Fedora Core. Once the package is built, it's as easy as running 'yum install package' for a user to install the package on their machine. Updating with 'yum update package' will then get updates for the package as necessary for security errata or bugfixes.

Contributing software

If Fedora Extras sounds like something you'd like to get involved in, there are a few requirements. You need some basic knowledge of how to build packages, must sign a legal agreement, and must find an existing contributor to sponsor your work.

After that, the first step is finding a piece of software that isn't available in Fedora Extras and creating an RPM of it. A set of basic guidelines to help in this is maintained online at fedoraproject.org.

Qualifying software is anything that's licensed under an OSI-certified license. Pick something that you use or are interested in and something someone else hasn't packaged for Extras. Or, perhaps one of your favorite programs is in Extras but isn't being actively maintained. If so, you'll find it on the orphaned package list along with instructions for how to claim the package.

Once you have your package, sign up for the fedora-extras-list mailing list, and then send the list a request for review including a link to the package. You'll likely get responses from a number of people who will look over the package with a fine-toothed comb and help to find any problems. Although it may feel like they're being overly critical, it's all a necessary part of the process to have the highest quality packages possible.

Once you've submitted your package for review, apply for access to the CVS repository. This involves creating an account and agreeing to the legal agreement. You'll also need to request access to the cvsextras group, where you must enter a sponsor to support your access.

Then, once your package is approved on the list and you've been sponsored, you should be ready. Next, import your package into the CVS repository and request a build. Your package will make its way out for the world to use. Also, be sure to request a Bugzilla component to be created for it.

Have more questions or need more information? Take a look at the Fedora Extras wiki page and if the answer isn't there, feel free to email fedora-extras-list for help.

About the author

Jeremy Katz is an engineer at Red Hat involved with most aspects of the OS. He's also a member of the Fedora Extras Steering Committee and continues to help move Fedora's community involvement forward.