Developer Area/Developer Tools

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This page describes the software and web accounts that you'll to contribute code to Mahara.

Setting up your development tools

NOTE: Before you get started, you need to decide on which email address you will be using while developing on Mahara. This will make sure all the different tools know who you are when they are sharing information about the project.

Locally installed tools

These are tools that need to be installed locally on the development machine.

Git Version Control System

If you plan to submit code changes will need to set up a local git repository, and you'll need the git software for this.

If you are running Ubuntu, this is done by:

sudo apt-get install git

On Debian:

sudo apt-get install git-core

On Fedora, you will need to (with root privileges) do:

yum install git-core

(if this didn't work, check to see if the extras repository is enabled. Though this could be a sign your Fedora is a really old version and you might need to update.

On windows, you should download an installer from the git website.

Once you have git installed, you'll need to configure it with the name and email address to put on your commits. (You should use the same email address as in your user profile for all the web tools.)

git config --global "FirstName LastName"
git config --global "[email protected]"

By default git will use the command-line text editor "nano" whenever it needs you to enter some text. If you'd rather use a different editor, you can change that by setting the "core.editor" setting. If you're unfamiliar with the command line, you may want to use "gedit" the default Ubuntu text editor:

git config --global core.editor "gedit --standalone --wait"

(Gedit needs the "standalone" and "wait" flags to be compatible as a git text editor.)


In order to use the Mahara project's gerrit convenience scripts, you'll need to install xmllint. In Ubuntu or debian, the process should be:

sudo apt-get install libxml2-utils

Secure Shell (SSH) Key

You'll need to create an SSH key pair, so that you can later upload the public key to There are several excellent guides to this process on the Internet, including the one from GitHub.

Web based tools

Mahara development uses several web-based tools for workflow. You will need to sign up at each of them and give them certain information so that your work is attributed to you throughout.

The Mahara bug tracker is on

This means that to use the bug tracking workflow you will need to sign up for a account. If you already have a launchpad account, you can skip ahead to the next step.

Gerrit code review (

All code changes to Mahara go through a code review process. This is hosted at and uses the Launchpad OpenId for sign-in.

To create your account on the Mahara code review system (which uses Gerrit Code Review):

  1. Click the "Sign In" in the top right corner of the page
  2. Enter your preferred OpenID (we recommend using Launchpad:
  3. Click the "Settings" in the top right corner of the page
  4. Add these details:
    • Username (hint: All lowercase. It's easiest if this matches your username on your local machine.)
    • Full name
    • Email address(es)
    • SSH public key (hint: the one we just told you to create)

(Previous documentation mentioned the "mahara reviewers" group. You do not need direct commit or to be part of the 'mahara reviewers' group to send your patchsets through the gerrit system.)

While not strictly required for development purposes, it's also recommended that you sign up for an account at, in order to participate in the community forums there.

If you wish to edit the Mahara wiki, you can log in using your username and password from your account.