How to help

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This article describes how both new and experienced Parabola users can contribute to the community

Parabola is a GNU/Linux-libre distribution made by volunteers. Therefore all users are encouraged to get involved and further improve Parabola.

This article describes how both new and experienced Parabola users can get involved in the community and contribute to the project. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. Before contributing, please get accustomed with the Parabola Social Contract.

1 Community

1.1 Post on the forums or [assist] mailing list

One of the easiest ways to get involved is participating in the Parabola Community Forum or the 'assist' mailing list, which allow getting to know the community and help new users.

1.2 Improve this wiki

Parabola Wiki is a collaboratively maintained Parabola documentation. All users are encouraged to contribute. You can write and maintain articles and/or translate articles.

Wiki Editing
Wiki Conversion
Wiki internationalization
You will learn
documenting software, wikimedia language

1.3 Write an experience report

Help Parabola getting more popular by writing an experience report. By reading experience reports, potentially new users can see how great a life in freedom is.

1.4 Join the chatroom

You can help other users solve problems on the IRC Channels.

1.5 Join the development mailing list

Join the discussion on the public 'dev' mailing list.

2 Packaging

2.1 Fix and report bugs

Reporting and fixing bugs on the bug tracker is one of the possible ways to help the community.

However, ineffective use can be counter-productive. If bugs should be reported upstream. Posting upstream bugreports makes fixing them in Parabola much easier.

Bug reporting guidelines

2.2 Code review and test packages

Changes in packages and blacklist are added when a single developer considers them working on their machine. It is not sufficient, especially when upgrades depend on specific hardware, other packages or deciding package's compatibility with our freedom guidelines requires experience with that package.

Find a reasonable way of getting every change reviewed by other developers or users before they are applied. This probably implies not having packages built on developer's computers.

Packages on the testing repositories need to be tried out and signed off before they are promoted to the main repositories. Help the Parabola hackers test new packages.

How to contribute to Parabola's Repositories

2.3 Inform about security issues

New vulnerabilities are found all the time. Help the Parabola hackers keep track of new vulnerabilities.

2.4 Create -libre packages

Sometimes, non-free packages can be liberated. Help to adapting Pkgbuilds and/or applying patches to the software.

Guidelines for Free System Distributions
Some problems which don't make the package non-free
How to contribute to Parabola's Repositories
Creating -libre packages
You will learn
free software licensing, package building, practical problems of some non-free restrictions

2.5 Identify non-free packages

Parabola adheres to the : Guidelines for Free System Distributions and therefore provides only free packages. However, Parabola builds upon Arch Linux and redistributes Arch Linux' free packages directly. Help to find non-free packages and remove them.

The most common problems are documentation/UI of a program recommending non-free software or software under non-free licenses (typically restricting commercial use or modifications). Usually no programming knowledge is needed.

Guidelines for Free System Distributions
Some problems which don't make the package non-free
How to Blacklist a package
You will learn
free software licensing, practical problems of some non-free restrictions

2.6 Fix package build problems

Some packages are rarely updated and cannot be compiled now without changes. Fixing them would make porting to other architectures and changing the packages to make them more useful easier.

If a change is not needed to compile the package in Parabola-specific ports and is in package not modified by Parabola, it should be reported directly to Arch.

Arch Issue Tracker
How to contribute to Parabola's Repositories
You will learn
Arch packaging and libretools

2.7 Delay updates when they need changing our packages

Currently we automatically get new packages from Arch every day. If they depend on newer versions of packages that we modify (like dependency libraries), then updates fail or break users' systems. Make the repo update scripts detect this issue and delay updates from Arch (of affected packages only, or all packages?) when this occurs.


3 Parabola Custom Software Projects

The Parabola distribution comprises of many components, such as the libre build system (abslibre), the website (parabolaweb), or the graphical installer for Parabola (calamares) Each of these projects can be contributed to individually.

The projects themselves are hosted with git on

4 Graphics Design and other Artworks

Supporting artistic freedom (aka. Free Culture) is one of the core goals expressed in the Parabola Social Contract. If you have a talent for art, music, graphics, sound, or web design, please consider helping the Parabola desktops and websites to be more aesthetically pleasing and artistically inspiring.

5 Share Parabola Packages and ISOs

If you have a server with sufficient up-time, disk space, and bandwidth, you could operate a package mirror service. That would help to increase the robustness of the standard mirror network.

You can also help to increase the robustness of Parabola repos using any personal computer. It is not necessary to have a powerful server for this. Pacman2Pacman is a peer-to-peer package sharing network using the bittorrent protocol. This allows sharing of packages between users without any central servers, and keeps Parabola healthy even if the master repo server and all standard mirrors were offline.

The Parabola project operates entirely on kind donations. Any such donation should not be considered as a charitable donation, but a personal gift to one or all of the current Parabola developers, or indirectly to all Parabola users. You can find out how to support Parabola development and maintenance on the Parabola donate page.

You could also support Parabola development by donating hardware, especially those which advance the state of software/hardware freedom, such as RISC-V and POWER9, and single-board computers which are quirky and difficult to support generally. A POWER9 Talos computer, for example, would surely earn you the distinction of: Friend of Freedom Extraordinaire. Of course, do ask if that particular hardware is likely or desired to be supported. There are many computers which are simply not practical or popular enough to justify the human resources required to support them.