Step 3: How can you volunteer @ Mozilla IT?


In most ways, right now at least, you can’t. We’re too closed. It’s like I said in my first blog post,

IT is generally closed. Mozilla is not. There’s a incredible disconnect there. How do we leverage the expertise of the Community in running some of the busiest websites in the world?

In my travels over the past year I’ve met a number of passionate volunteers with IT skills who are looking for different ways to volunteer and contribute to Mozilla.  In the past two months, that list has exploded.

I’ve talked about ways Mozilla IT is trying to help the community, how we are trying to be your IT (we’re still talking about it too!).

I’ve talked about how we want to reboot Air Mozilla, how we want to open video and make it possible for more people to tell the Mozilla story in video.

But Mozilla IT is still closed.

Help me change it?

I want to illustrate what we want to do.

The best way to do that is to share a little open video and popcorn.js, with some help from Popcorn Maker. (This is what happens when you go to a Mozilla Festival. See how great the open web is?)

Watch this to see how we want to pivot to open.


Good question.  I think I need your help to figure this out. It’s going to feel weird and uncomfortable for us.  Of all the steps we set out to do nearly two months ago, this has been the most challenging.  There are so many processes to work out.

  • What sort of agreement should volunteer Mozilla IT sign? A code of conduct? There are some parts of the infrastructure that must remain secure and secret even as we strive to be open.
  • How do we build the trust necessary to give someone root access?
  • How do we on-board new Mozilla IT volunteers?  Does everyone get root access on day one?  Is there some graduated process?  What is it?
  • Do we host onsite (or remote) training events to teach you about our tools and processes?

Today, as a code contributor, we ask you to sign a Committer’s Agreement.  It’s a simple document that shows you understand what it means to contribute code to Mozilla and understand our legal requirements.

As part of Mozilla IT,  you’ll have access to some pretty mission critical systems. I invite you to take a look at the Mozilla IT Agreement and share your feedback with us.  It’s meant to be a lightweight agreement similar to the Committer’s Agreement.

Want to get involved?

We’re doing a lot of this thinking out in the open at and I invite you to join and participate –

Preparing for 2012

I want to reiterate two of my goals I mentioned in my first post nearly two months ago.

My own personal goals by the end of 2012 are:

  • to have 5-10 volunteer Community Sysadmins actively helping run Mozilla’s network and servers.
  • to have a vibrant Community IT group…

I made the comment that it felt like the most ambitious thing we’ve done.  It probably still is but in two months we’ve shifted our way of thinking, took Air Mozilla Mobile on the road and have a long list of things you need from us.

2012 will be fun.

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Categories: Community, Mozilla

2 responses

  1. jmdesp wrote on :

    There’s one thing I would like to contribute, actually it’s not really IT, it’s more an IT component, and it’s a case of scratching one’s own itch.

    The software suite Mozilla’s IT uses to manage mailing lists/newgroups/google groups is broken in may, many ways, and it’s hurting me almost everyday. I’d love to contribute to that, but first it’d need to be properly documented *what* is actually used, and *how* it’s used.

    Some of the problems :
    – the software suite rewrites Message-ID’s. That’s *evil*. Simply talking *evil* and *not* an acceptable method of handling the detection of message that have been already posted.
    In practice, this means that message threading of newsgroup is constantly broken in thunderbird, because thunderbird can’t thread message when the ID’s are rewritten. For thread with a lot of messages like there is constantly is on planning and platform, this is deeply annoying.
    – the mail news gateway doesn’t handle cross-posting. It’s not smart enough to understand this newsgroup is the same as this mailing-list and handle that in a smart way, like changing the Following-Up-To header to an adequate Reply-To when transferring a message from newsgroups to mailing-list.
    – there’s a lot of message duplication in the current setup (and some bugs open about that in bugzilla). Actually it’s obvious it happens when a message is posted simultaneously to the ML and to the newsgroup and/or through Google groups. As each copy has exactly the same content but a different MessageID, it’s obvious the MessageID rewriting interferes with detecting the same message has already been already received.
    – the newsgroup platform rejects message with base64 inside (or what looks like base64). But not the mailing-list and not google groups. So some people see the message and some other don’t. Not easy to solve, but a base64 detector that more or less rejects the same things as the newsgroup platform would help. The best would be to propagate messages to google groups/the ML only if the newsgroup platform accepts them, at least for moderated groups.
    All of the above should not be that hard to solve for moderated groups because all messages go through a single point *before* being posted. And as the future is for all groups to be moderated for spam detection …

  2. Gervase Markham wrote on :

    Hi mrz,

    The intent of the Agreement is great, but at the moment it feels quite corporate and not very Mozilla-y… I’ve produced a revised version, which you can either adopt or use as inspiration 🙂

    I’ve added some comments too, and hopefully the diff view shows what I’ve changed. I tried to de-corporatize it, make it more partner-y rather than employer/employee, and put in a bit more rationale.

    Other people who want to do the same can find a wikified version of the text posted on this blog here: