13. How to Become a Core Developer

13.1. What it Takes

When you have consistently contributed patches which meet quality standards without requiring extensive rewrites prior to being committed, you may qualify for commit privileges and become a core developer of Python. You must also work well with other core developers (and people in general) as you become an ambassador for the Python project.

Typically a core developer will offer you the chance to gain commit privilege. The person making the offer will become your mentor and watch your commits for a while to make sure you understand the development process. If other core developers agree that you should gain commit privileges you are then extended an official offer.

You may request commit privileges yourself, but do not be surprised if your request is turned down. Do not take this personally! It simply means that other core developers think you need more time contributing patches before you are able to commit them without supervision.

A complete list of core developer usernames can be found at http://hg.python.org/committers.txt. Developer Log lists when and why someone received commit privileges.

13.2. Gaining Commit Privileges

When you have been extended an official offer to become a Python core developer, there are several things you must do.

13.2.1. Mailing Lists

You are expected to subscribe to python-committers, python-dev, python-checkins, and one of new-bugs-announce or python-bugs-list. See Following Python’s Development for links to these mailing lists.

13.2.2. Issue Tracker

If you did not gain the Developer role in the issue tracker before gaining commit privileges, please say so. This will allow issues to be assigned to you. A tracker admin should also flip your “is committer” bit in the tracker’s account screen.

It is expected that on the issue tracker you have a username in the form of “first_name.last_name”. If your initial issue tracker username is not of this form, please change it. This is so that it is easier to assign issues to the right person.

13.2.3. SSH

You need to generate an SSH 2 RSA key to be able to commit code. You may have multiple keys if you wish (e.g., for work and home). Send your key as an attachment in an email to hgaccounts@python.org. Help in generating an SSH key can be found in the Python Developer FAQ.

Your SSH key will be set to a username in the form of “first_name.last_name”. This should match your username on the issue tracker.

You can verify your commit access by looking at http://hg.python.org/committers.txt which lists all core developers by username. If you want to practice, there is a test repository where you can freely commit and push any changes you like:

hg clone ssh://hg@hg.python.org/test/ hgtest

An entry in the Developer Log should also be entered for you. Typically the person who sponsored your application to become a core developer makes sure an entry is created for you.

13.2.4. Sign a Contributor Agreement

Submitting a contributor form for Python licenses any code you contribute to the Python Software Foundation. While you retain the copyright, giving the PSF the ability to license your code means it can be put under the PSF license so it can be legally distributed with Python.

This is a very important step! Hopefully you have already submitted a contributor agreement if you have been submitting patches. But if you have not done this yet, it is best to do this ASAP, probably before you even do your first commit so as to not forget.

13.2.5. Read/Write Checkout

With your commit privileges working and your contributor form submitted, you can now get a read/write checkout of the code. URLs for read/write checkouts are different than those for read-only checkouts as SSH is used instead of HTTP.

You can clone the repository (which contains all active branches) with:

hg clone ssh://hg@hg.python.org/cpython

The default branch in that repository is the current development branch. You can of course switch your working copy to one of the maintenance branches, for example:

hg update 2.7

13.3. Responsibilities

As a core developer, there are certain things that are expected of you.

First and foremost, be a good person. This might sound melodramatic, but you are now a member of the Python project and thus represent the project and your fellow core developers whenever you discuss Python with anyone. We have a reputation for being a very nice group of people and we would like to keep it that way.

Second, please be prompt in responding to questions. We are all volunteers so what little free time one can dedicate to Python should be spent being productive. If you have been asked to respond to an issue or answer a question and you put it off it ends up stalling other people’s work. It is completely acceptable to say you are too busy, but you need to say that instead of stringing people along. This obviously applies to anything you do on the issue tracker as well.

Third, please list what areas you want to be considered an expert in the Experts Index. This allows triagers to direct issues to you which involve an area you are an expert in. But, as stated in the second point above, if you do not have the time to answer questions promptly then please remove yourself as needed from the file so that you will not be bothered in the future. Once again, we all understand how life gets in the way, so no one will be insulted if you remove yourself from the list.

And finally, enjoy yourself! Contributing to open source software should be fun (overall). If you find yourself no longer enjoying the work then either take a break or figure out what you need to do to make it enjoyable again.