Test Installation Instructions

From TeachingOpenSource


Test Installation Instructions for a Project


The goal of this activity is to test the correctness and completeness of the download and installation instructions for a FOSS project.


Some understanding of how to download and install software.

After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:
  • Understand where to look for download and install instructions for a FOSS project.
  • Understand the features of download and install instructions.
  • Be able to follow and assess download and install instructions.
Process Skills


All open source projects want new users. However, the download and install instructions for many projects are either incomplete or out of date. Testing the download and install directions and providing feedback to the community would be extremely helpful to the community.


  1. Find a project of interest. There is a list at the end of this activity.
  2. Search the project documentation to identify the location of the download and install directions. These instructions may be found on the project web site or within the code itself, perhaps in a README file.
  3. Follow the download instructions, taking note of any problems or issues that you found.
  4. Follow the installation instructions, taking note of any problems or issues that you found.


A discussion of what you found which should include:

  1. A description of the operating system and environment within which you performed the download and install
  2. An itemized list of the issues that you found when trying to download and install the product.
  3. A list of what could be done to improve the download and install instructions.

Variation 1: Repeat the above for the development environment.

Variation 2: Use the project's "Getting Started" guide, if such exists. If it doesn't exist, creating a Getting Started guide would be a great way for a class to contribute back to a project.



It is strongly recommended that you, as the instructor, have installed the software environment yourself so that you can predict any issues that the students might have. You also may need to have software installed on lab machines or controlled environments, so check on this before your class.

The download and installation instructions for projects may be located on the project web site but may also be loaded within the actual code. Therefore, learners may need to find the code repo and do some searching there. Install dependencies may complicate the download and install.

Some good projects you might choose to work with:

Project Description Requirements
MouseTrap GNOME Accessibility project that uses a web cam to track user head movement and move the cursor accordingly Needs a webcam
OpenMRS Leading FOSS electronic medical record system platform None
Ushahidi Data management system that uses crowdsourced data None

Additional Information:

Area & Unit(s)


Estimated Time
to Complete

60-120 minutes

Environment /

Heidi Ellis


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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Suggestions for the Open Source Project

Students will have more success with this activity if your "Download and Installation" documents are correct :-)