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HOWTO contribute to the DPN

Contributing to ProjectNews is easy but depends on your skills and the amount of time you can spare.

/!\ Please note that all material provided to the publicity repository (i.e. your contributions) will be published on the Debian website under the terms of the MIT (Expat) or GPL2+ licences

Send interesting news

The easiest way to help us is to inform us about interesting things happening in the Debian universe. Debian is quite a big project, and we don't have the manpower to monitor every mailing list, blog, news site for content we might want to add to our ProjectNews. So tell us, if you noticed something interesting happening. You can usually do this by sending an E-Mail to .

What you should send

Generally speaking: everything which might have a noticeable impact on the Debian Project at large and its user base in particular.

Some ideas:

Things you don't need to report

Of course the above list is far from being complete. We would especially like to point out, that we can't monitor other media, web sites, blogs and everything else. So it's very valuable to report anything you think fitting to the ProjectNews to our mailing list .

Keep in mind, that one of the main goals for us, beside keeping our users informed, is to show them that we are a living, working community! I.e. to show that Debian is thriving, that Debian is alive!

Help from native speakers

Currently the main editor is not a native English speaker. He knows it, and you probably have noticed it, too. So one thing you can help with, as a native speaker, is to fix his en_DE to proper English. The issues are drafted in a Git repository. Details on how to access using a Git client are listed below in the "Becoming an editor yourself" section. Even if you are unfamiliar with Git, you can always download the current issue from the English DPN repository, review it, and mail comments to the debian-publicity mailing list. We would prefer to receive your changes as diff or wdiff, if possible: Just make a copy of the downloaded file, edit it, and send us the output of diff -u <oldfile> <newfile>.

Becoming an editor yourself

If you want to contribute directly and want to add small articles to the ProjectNews yourself, feel free to join the team:

Accessing the DPN Git repository

Before accessing the Git repository, you might want to read the Salsa documentation to use the Git repository on Salsa more conveniently.

You can now edit the Debian Project News. Don't worry if you are inexperienced with Git or the Website Meta Language / HTML (which is used for Debian's website). Nothing you do will directly appear on the website and all errors you might do can be revoked relatively painlessly.

Accessing the Git repository anonymously

If you don't have a Salsa account, you can access the Git repository anonymously.

You can check out the current draft for the Debian Project News by using the following command: git clone This command will create a dpn folder containing Debian Project News. The latest draft is located in the dpn/current folder.


Also note, that there are several graphical front ends for Git. But as the writer lacks experience with any of them, he can't recommend them.

Two more guidelines for committing your changes:

  1. Please use a useful commit message (the description of your changes behind the "-m" Parameter).
  2. Try not to write too long lines. Tracking changes / viewing diffs is easier, when the line length is shorter than ~80 characters. Most Editors can be configured to automatically break the line for you.

Format of the index.wml file

The Debian Project News are available in three formats:

All these formats are generated from the index.wml file. Debian's website uses the website meta language (WML) to create the web pages. Roughly speaking WML is HTML with embedded macros (e.g. for common elements on various sites) and the possibility to embed perl scripts, e.g. to create a list of DPN issues based on the available files. But don't worry: you don't need to know WML or perl (and only basic HTML) to contribute to the DPN. Luckily nearly everything is already in place and we just need to create the content with minimal HTML markup.

If you look at an empty index.wml (you can look at this one which is used as a template) you'll notice that it starts as follows:

#use wml::debian::projectnews::header PUBDATE="2017-MM-DD" SUMMARY=""
#use wml::debian::acronyms

The first line says to the wml compiler that it should use the project-news template for the header. It also sets two variables for the publishing date and a small summary. The summary is used for example at the index page for recent issues. It shouldn't be too long.

The acronyms line allows the use of specific acronyms, which will show the explanation as a hover text over the acronym.

At the end you'll see something similar to this:

#use wml::debian::projectnews::footer editor="The Publicity Team with contributions from contributor1, contributor2, contributor3"

That tells the wml compiler to add the normal footer to the web page. With the editor variable, it will also add the names of the contributors listed there.

Everything between these lines, is almost regular HTML, which in our case mostly means: some headlines (<toc-add-entry>...</toc-add-entry>), some paragraphs (<p>...</p>) or some lists (<ul><li>...</li><li>...</li></ul>).

Every article should start with a unique entry name:

<toc-add-entry name="$unique_anchor">$my_beautiful_title</toc-add-entry>
<p>This is the content of my small article, where I can insert <a href="">links</a> and other regular HTML markup.</p>

The stuff between the <toc-add-entry> and </toc-add-entry> is the actual headline.

After that follows the actual article between <p> and </p>. You may use several of these paragraphs, but note that only the first one will appear in the RSS-feed. (Which might be a bug worth fixing, if you know enough perl...)

As explained, you may use normal HTML in these paragraphs. This means:

As the Project News is also read by users not very familiar with the Debian internal jargon and acronyms, please also use the <acronym ...> </acronym> tag (not part of HTML but one of our wml templates). See the following example:

One topic discussed was: <q>Race against <acronym lang="en" title="None of the above">NOTA</acronym>.</q>

While it won't work in the text version for e-mails, at least the HTML version for the websites and the RSS feed will mark the acronym so, that when the user moves the mouse cursor over the acronym the explanation is displayed. You can see an example on (search for DPL).

Translating the Debian Project News

Feel free to use the Git repository for your translation work, too. In these cases it is easier to just check out the complete DPN hierarchy of the Git repository by doing:

#use wml::debian::projectnews::footer editor="L'équipe en charge de la publicité avec des contributions de Thomas Lange et Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana et Jean-Pierre Giraud" translator="Jean-Pierre Giraud, l\'équipe francophone de traduction"

Using Translation check to track original document versions (FIXME: Outdated section)

Note: This section is outdated, the script was designed to use Subversion and now we use Git. We keep the info here for the case somebody wants to update the script.

If you use the publicity repository you can use the script in scripts/trans-check to track which of your translations are up to date. Your translations need a translation check for this to work. For example:

#use wml::debian::translation-check translation="45"

This will tell the script (and later Debian's website), that your translation was based upon revision 45 of the original document.

The only parameter it takes is the language to be checked or to be more precise: the folder it should compare against the en/ folder. See the following example:

alex@rusalka:publicity/dpn$ scripts/trans-check fr
Found 'fr/current/index.wml' is outdated!
  Please run 'svn diff -r 9:18 "en/current/index.wml"' to review the changes to the original document.

Getting your translation published

As shortly explained in section Format of the index.wml file, the Debian Project News are published in three ways:

To get your translation published on Debian's website, it will need to be added to the webwml repository. See for more details about that.

To send your translation out as e-mail on one of our user mailing lists, note that the debian-news-language lists are moderated, so please get in contact with the respective moderators / your translation team (e.g. via the debian-l10n-language lists). If there's no debian-news-language list for your language, but a debian-user-language list, you may send your translation to that list (depending on what the members of that list think about it).

Regardless of where you send it, you will find the script scripts/ quite handy: when your translation is available on the website, you can just run it, and it will create the text version for you. You can call it in a way similar to scripts/ -d -l en -i 2008/06. It doesn't work perfectly, yet, but it makes it very easy to create a "good looking" text version.

Translation Workflow

This section documents the current workflow used by the French translation team to translate and send out issues of the Debian Project News. It welcomes other team experience in order to give some hints to each other.

It relies on the current workflow, and likewise, the following states only the ideal workflow. Because of some constraints of the editors or due to expected events (e.g. when one ftp-master ask the issue to be delayed for a couple of hours, so the mail he is about to send out can be mentioned in the issue) the following timeline might be stretched.

Current workflow

(As practised more or less by the French translation team.)

  1. After every release is moved to the proper location (e.g. 2010/01). Then a new current folder is created and the index.wml-template is copied in there, to start with an empty and fresh translation of the news.

  2. Around a week before the issue is to be published, begin to translate what is already available (in order to avoid last minute, hurry and possibly dirty work).
  3. If enough articles are already in place (say four or five), sent the WIP draft to the debian-l10n-language@l.d.o for review.

  4. When the DPN is string-frozen, try to finish it as quickly as possible, asking for help in debian-l10n-language@l.d.o can be a good idea, and offers to any member the ability to provide at least one translated article (ask explicitly to mention on which article she or he works in order to avoid duplicate).

  5. When the translated DPN is finished hopefully Friday or Saturday, ask for a formal review on debian-l10n-language@l.d.o.

  6. On the next Monday, publish the translated DPN on the website following the original one, and launch a last call for comment on debian-l10n-language@l.d.o.

  7. Two or three days later, send the DPN on debian-news-language@l.d.o.

Remarks and problems with the current workflow