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16.8 Commit Access

Everyone can contribute to Guix without having commit access (see Submitting Patches). However, for frequent contributors, having write access to the repository can be convenient. Commit access should not be thought of as a “badge of honor” but rather as a responsibility a contributor is willing to take to help the project.

The following sections explain how to get commit access, how to be ready to push commits, and the policies and community expectations for commits pushed upstream.

16.8.1 Applying for Commit Access

When you deem it necessary, consider applying for commit access by following these steps:

  1. Find three committers who would vouch for you. You can view the list of committers at https://savannah.gnu.org/project/memberlist.php?group=guix. Each of them should email a statement to guix-maintainers@gnu.org (a private alias for the collective of maintainers), signed with their OpenPGP key.

    Committers are expected to have had some interactions with you as a contributor and to be able to judge whether you are sufficiently familiar with the project’s practices. It is not a judgment on the value of your work, so a refusal should rather be interpreted as “let’s try again later”.

  2. Send guix-maintainers@gnu.org a message stating your intent, listing the three committers who support your application, signed with the OpenPGP key you will use to sign commits, and giving its fingerprint (see below). See https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/en/, for an introduction to public-key cryptography with GnuPG.

    Set up GnuPG such that it never uses the SHA1 hash algorithm for digital signatures, which is known to be unsafe since 2019, for instance by adding the following line to ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf (see GPG Esoteric Options in The GNU Privacy Guard Manual):

    digest-algo sha512
    
  3. Maintainers ultimately decide whether to grant you commit access, usually following your referrals’ recommendation.
  4. If and once you’ve been given access, please send a message to guix-devel@gnu.org to say so, again signed with the OpenPGP key you will use to sign commits (do that before pushing your first commit). That way, everyone can notice and ensure you control that OpenPGP key.

    Important: Before you can push for the first time, maintainers must:

    1. add your OpenPGP key to the keyring branch;
    2. add your OpenPGP fingerprint to the .guix-authorizations file of the branch(es) you will commit to.
  5. Make sure to read the rest of this section and... profit!

Note: Maintainers are happy to give commit access to people who have been contributing for some time and have a track record—don’t be shy and don’t underestimate your work!

However, note that the project is working towards a more automated patch review and merging system, which, as a consequence, may lead us to have fewer people with commit access to the main repository. Stay tuned!

All commits that are pushed to the central repository on Savannah must be signed with an OpenPGP key, and the public key should be uploaded to your user account on Savannah and to public key servers, such as keys.openpgp.org. To configure Git to automatically sign commits, run:

git config commit.gpgsign true

# Substitute the fingerprint of your public PGP key.
git config user.signingkey CABBA6EA1DC0FF33

You can prevent yourself from accidentally pushing unsigned commits to Savannah by using the pre-push Git hook located at etc/git/pre-push:

cp etc/git/pre-push .git/hooks/pre-push

16.8.2 Commit Policy

If you get commit access, please make sure to follow the policy below (discussions of the policy can take place on guix-devel@gnu.org).

Non-trivial patches should always be posted to guix-patches@gnu.org (trivial patches include fixing typos, etc.). This mailing list fills the patch-tracking database (see Tracking Bugs and Patches).

For patches that just add a new package, and a simple one, it’s OK to commit, if you’re confident (which means you successfully built it in a chroot setup, and have done a reasonable copyright and license auditing). Likewise for package upgrades, except upgrades that trigger a lot of rebuilds (for example, upgrading GnuTLS or GLib). We have a mailing list for commit notifications (guix-commits@gnu.org), so people can notice. Before pushing your changes, make sure to run git pull --rebase.

When pushing a commit on behalf of somebody else, please add a Signed-off-by line at the end of the commit log message—e.g., with git am --signoff. This improves tracking of who did what.

When adding channel news entries (see Writing Channel News), make sure they are well-formed by running the following command right before pushing:

make check-channel-news

For anything else, please post to guix-patches@gnu.org and leave time for a review, without committing anything (see Submitting Patches). If you didn’t receive any reply after two weeks, and if you’re confident, it’s OK to commit.

That last part is subject to being adjusted, allowing individuals to commit directly on non-controversial changes on parts they’re familiar with.

16.8.3 Addressing Issues

Peer review (see Submitting Patches) and tools such as guix lint (see Invoking guix lint) and the test suite (see Running the Test Suite) should catch issues before they are pushed. Yet, commits that “break” functionality might occasionally go through. When that happens, there are two priorities: mitigating the impact, and understanding what happened to reduce the chance of similar incidents in the future. The responsibility for both these things primarily lies with those involved, but like everything this is a group effort.

Some issues can directly affect all users—for instance because they make guix pull fail or break core functionality, because they break major packages (at build time or run time), or because they introduce known security vulnerabilities.

The people involved in authoring, reviewing, and pushing such commit(s) should be at the forefront to mitigate their impact in a timely fashion: by pushing a followup commit to fix it (if possible), or by reverting it to leave time to come up with a proper fix, and by communicating with other developers about the problem.

If these persons are unavailable to address the issue in time, other committers are entitled to revert the commit(s), explaining in the commit log and on the mailing list what the problem was, with the goal of leaving time to the original committer, reviewer(s), and author(s) to propose a way forward.

Once the problem has been dealt with, it is the responsibility of those involved to make sure the situation is understood. If you are working to understand what happened, focus on gathering information and avoid assigning any blame. Do ask those involved to describe what happened, do not ask them to explain the situation—this would implicitly blame them, which is unhelpful. Accountability comes from a consensus about the problem, learning from it and improving processes so that it’s less likely to reoccur.

16.8.4 Commit Revocation

In order to reduce the possibility of mistakes, committers will have their Savannah account removed from the Guix Savannah project and their key removed from .guix-authorizations after 12 months of inactivity; they can ask to regain commit access by emailing the maintainers, without going through the vouching process.

Maintainers37 may also revoke an individual’s commit rights, as a last resort, if cooperation with the rest of the community has caused too much friction—even within the bounds of the project’s code of conduct (see Contributing). They would only do so after public or private discussion with the individual and a clear notice. Examples of behavior that hinders cooperation and could lead to such a decision include:

When maintainers resort to such a decision, they notify developers on guix-devel@gnu.org; inquiries may be sent to guix-maintainers@gnu.org. Depending on the situation, the individual may still be welcome to contribute.

16.8.5 Helping Out

One last thing: the project keeps moving forward because committers not only push their own awesome changes, but also offer some of their time reviewing and pushing other people’s changes. As a committer, you’re welcome to use your expertise and commit rights to help other contributors, too!


Footnotes

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See https://guix.gnu.org/en/about for the current list of maintainers. You can email them privately at guix-maintainers@gnu.org.


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