Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Debian Linux readies an anti-coronavirus hack-a-thon

Open-source developers are uniting to create and improve code and programs to help fight COVID-19.

Telemedicine is changing the way we see doctors

Open-source programmers and engineers have been working on a wide variety of projects to beat coronavirus. These range from hospital management programs to speeding up drug development to building inexpensive ventilators. Now, Debian Linux, one of the oldest and largest Linux distribution communities, is throwing its programming resources behind a hack-a-thon trying to beat COVID-19

The Debian Med team is inviting programmers to a virtual COVID-19 Biohackathon from April 5-11, 2020. The Debian Med team wants your help in improving free and open-source biomedical software programs, tools and libraries. 

Also: From startups to supercomputers, how tech is trying to help tackle COVID-19 

Debian Med is a Debian Pure Blend. In other words, it's a Debian-based distro designed expressly for a specific use case. Debian Med is designed for medical practice and biomedical research. To do this, Debian Med integrates medical imaging, bioinformatics, clinic IT infrastructure, and related programs into a medical-specific Debian OS. 

You need not be a medical developer, or even be that good at putting on a bandaid, to help. Debian maintainer Michael R. Crusoe wrote, "Most tasks do not require any knowledge of biology or medicine, and all types of contributions are welcome: bug triage, testing, documentation, CI, translations, packaging, and code contributions."

Volunteer programmers are being encouraged to focus on amd64 architecture programs. That's because most biomedical software is built on this 64-bit platform. 

The bugs being addressed by the hack-a-thon are listed under the Summary bugs page of task Covid-19.The packages needing your help can be found at Debian Med Covid-19 packages.

You can find the plans on how the hack-a-thon is being organized at this Debian COVID-19 development site and the Debian COVID-19 GitHub page

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