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Last weekend I attended a Debian Bug Squashing Party in Salzburg, at which I applied as Debian Maintainer. In contrast to my usual blog articles, I want to comment this time on the social side of free software hacking and show that fixing bugs is actually a lot of fun.

‘Bug Squashing’ is developer slang way of saying ‚bug fixing’ and usually people meet and work collaboratively on improving the quality of the packages in Debian. When I visited my first BSP in Salzburg, I knew only that a debian/ directory existed and wasn't sure how debhelper was going to help me. I was surrounded by Developer's (DD) and felt quite greenhornish. It didn't take too long until I realized that I wasn't the only person to be new to packaging and so I simply started reading packaging tutorials. It is not a secret that Debian's (developer) documentation isn't particularly exhaustive, but the people behind Debian are so friendly and helpful!

Image from the main meeting room, a table full with cables, laptops and sweets. People are sitting around.

There's always somebody in the IRC channel #debian-mentors ( and being at a BSP speeds up the question-answer cycle dramatically. It makes working on with unfamiliar tools fun.

This year I focussed on dotify-cli, a software to convert and emboss braille texts with an braille embosser. The author has split the software into many small units and this results into a lot of packaging work. Two days weren't enough to get the job done, but it was still an extreme speed-up, because I would otherwise not have worked on it for two days.

I'm maintaining packages in Debian for more than five years now and I never considered to become an official Debian Maintainer, mostly because I was too lazy to apply. For people not familiar with the terminology: Debian Maintainer is a privilege level which allows the package maintainer to upload certain packages to the archive, without asking a Debian Developer for help.

Packaging and programming is only one part of what makes a BSP fun. In the evenings, people do all sorts of things. For instance, a few of us played a simple game with the aim to flood the universe with paper clips, while others enjoyed the night with a few drinks.

Hopefully this article has made you curious and I'll see you in one of the upcoming Debian events! Just browse the list of regions on the events page or click the BSP link to find the list of upcoming and past events.\ Tip: If you are unable to afford travel costs, Debian can sponsor some or all of your travel expenses, so that this is no reason to not attend!