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A committer is an individual who is able to modify the source code of a particular piece of open-source software. To contribute source code on most large projects, one must make modifications and then "commit" those changes to a central repository such as CVS. To have "a commit bit" on one's user account means that one is permitted to commit those changes. This dates to the use of a literal binary digit to represent yes-or-no privileges in many software systems.
Project committers are usually the lead developers of a project and usually are the ones responsible for the majority of changes and as such are seen as trusted members of the community. Relatedly, committers are usually responsible for the review of patches submitted members of the community for inclusion into the software. After a successful review, usually consisting of conformance to coding standards and ensuring it does not introduce any new bugs, the committer will commit that specific patch on behalf of the patch submitter.
Becoming a committer
The process to becoming a committer can vary across projects, but in general, there are three common ways to do it.
- Be one of the original developers
- Be appointed by one of the original developers
- Be successfully voted in by the community of committers
Becoming a committer in an existing project often involves becoming active on both the mailing lists as well as with supplying patches. After enough involvement, the other committers can then vote you in as a new committer. This normally happens through an e-mail vote. The XML-SOAP project hosted at Apache.org is an example of this process.