Contributing to Octave Forge

GNU Octave (a.k.a. Octave core) provides the core language, while Octave Forge provides packages for it. For example, the image, control, signal, and statistics packages are part of Octave Forge.

For contributions to Octave core please see its Octave Developers Page. To contribute to Octave Forge, please read on.

Contributing to existing packages

Each Octave Forge package (with exception of some old packages) has its own repository. Most use Mercurial although a few prefer Git. In both cases, to contribute to an Octave Forge package:

  1. Clone the package;
  2. Create a patch;
  3. Submit it to the correct tracker: the bug tracker if it fixes a bug, otherwise the patch tracker.

For more details on these steps, see below.

Cloning a package

Cloning a package requires knowing the package name and location. SourceForge maintains lists of packages that use Mercurial repositories and Git repositories.

Creating a patch

After cloning the most recent version of the package, make your desired changes to the package code. Once all changes are complete, in the main package folder:

  1. Update the working directory;
  2. Commit changes;
  3. Export the changes to a patch file.

See more details in the Basics of Generating a Changeset of the Octave manual.

Submitting a patch

Submission the same for both types of repository and identical to the process for Octave core. Submit the patch to either the patch tracker or the bug tracker, and wait for it to be reviewed. Another option is to host a clone of the package wherever desired and request a pull on the patch tracker. It is also possible to submit a simple patch or a new modified file but that greatly increases the review and acceptance time.

Contributing new packages

If you want to contribute with a new package, mention this on the Octave maintainers mailing list.

Making a package release

The details are very much dependent on the structure of the package.

For more information

Project history

Octave Forge was originally an Octave distribution. There were no individual packages and everything was a single repository, with everything released at the same time. The original distribution had 3 parts: main, extra, and non-free. An extra directory in the repository was also available for admin.

This became unmanageable which led to the creation of individual packages, released at different times as each package manager saw fit. They were still all under a single giant SVN repository (although with SVN one can easily clone only a subdirectory).

The non-free section was eventually removed, and two requesites were added for inclusion of code in Octave Forge: a GPL compatible license and non-dependency on GPL incompatibility code.

With the increase of use of distributed version control systems, packages were slowly removed from the SVN repository and moved into individual Mercurial repositories. Not all packages have migrated, but only older packages, usually unmaintained, exist there now.