Minimal skills

Jon Radel jon at
Thu Jun 4 15:16:16 UTC 2020

On 6/4/20 09:27, Brandon helsley wrote:
> I see there is a section on upgrading ports in the porters handbook that slightly touches on diff and patching ports. I'm still confused though about how to find the bugs to make the patches and get the experience. Is that part of the process of debugging anywhere in the documentation?

Bugs are:

  *  What you trip over when you're trying to get something done and the
software does something somewhere between "Huh, what's it doing?" and
"What a piece of @$!@$!@$!"

  *  What you find when you've developed a suite of tests for the
software that you run every time you even think about making a change to
the code, or

  *  What you find when you do a rigorous line-by-line analysis of the
code looking for various "bad" coding practices frequently associated
with bugs.

Given where you are on your journey, I'd suspect that you'd be best
served by dealing with worrying about bugs only if you trip across them
during use, or if you're dealing with software where somebody else wrote
the tests and all you have to do is run them and see what happens.

So....and here's the reason I'm even bothering to take the time to write
this....I'd strongly urge you to not worry about finding bugs.  They'll
find you soon enough.  And if you do take something over as the
maintainer other people may even start sending you grumbly notes about
yet more bugs.

What to do, then?

Pay attention to the people who keep asking you, in many different ways,
what it is you want to DO with FreeBSD?  Figure out what ports would
assist you in achieving this.  Look at those ports...are they all
up-to-date?  If you find a port that seems useful to you but there are
upstream updates, particularly if associated with severe security
alerts, that haven't shown up yet in the port tree, do the research to
figure out if there is a maintainer who can explain what's happening, a
maintainer who would be thrilled if you offered to work on it, or no
maintainer at all.  Proceed accordingly.

There's plenty of work to do just keeping everything updated....

And a meta-comment:  I'm not you and you're not me, and I'm quite sure
that your mileage will vary, but I personally find it much easier to
find the time, energy, and focus to truly learn a tool if I (or somebody
paying me to do useful things) use that tool to actually do something

--Jon Radel
jon at

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