Contributing to Rockstor documentation

Steps for contributing to rockstor-doc repo are similar to contributing to rockstor-core, as we follow the same fork and pull request model. We’ll assume you have basic proficiency with Git and are familiar with using a text editor or IDE of your choice. Emacs, Vim, Eclipse and PyCharm are some recommendations. Or you may be able to use an online such as We’ll further assume that you have your laptop ready with git and an editor installed. Since we rely on github services, you need to create a profile on

Once you have your profile set-up on, follow these steps

Go to rockstor-doc repo and click on the Fork button. This will fork the repository into your profile which serves as your private git remote called origin. The next few git steps are demonstrated on a Linux terminal. They work the same on a Mac too. Your IDE may have ways to completely avoid the terminal, but using the terminal makes you look cool.

[you@your_laptop ~/projects]# git clone

The above command creates a local rockstor-doc git repo in a new directory by the same name(rockstor-doc). Change into it.

[you@your_laptop ~/projects]# cd rockstor-doc

Configure this new git repo with your name and email address. This is required to accurately record collaboration.

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git config "Firstname Lastname"
[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git config your_email_address

Add a remote called upstream to periodically rebase your local repository with changes in the upstream made by other contributors.

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]#git remote add upstream

Making changes

We’ll assume you have identified an issue(eg: #1234) from the github issue tracker to work on. If you want to document something for which there is no issue, feel free to create one.

First, start with the latest documentation by rebasing your local repo’s master branch with the upstream.

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git checkout master
[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git pull --rebase upstream master

Checkout a new/separate branch for your issue. For example:

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git checkout -b issue#1234_brief_label

You can then start making changes in this branch. Once done you can add your changes.

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git add new_file_added.rst existing_file.rst

We strongly encourage you to commit changes a certain way to help other contributors and keep the merge process smooth. Below guidelines are more pertinent to code contributions, but feel free to be as perfect as you like. As a guiding principle, separate your changes into one or more logically independent commits.

[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc]# git commit new_file_added.rst existing_file.rst

We request that you divide a commit message into three parts. Start the message with a single line summary, about 50-70 characters in length. Add a blank line after that. If you want to add more than a summary to your commit message, describe the change in more detail in plain text format where each line is no more than 80 characters. This description should be in present tense. Below is a fictional example:

foobar functionality documentation for rockstor

This document describes foobar functionality. This feature is based on algorithm called
recursive transaction launcher to generate transactional foobars.

# Please enter the commit message for your changes. Lines starting
# with '#' will be ignored, and an empty message aborts the commit.
# On branch issue#1234_test
# Changes to be committed:
#   (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)
#       new file:

If you’d like credit for your patch or if you are a frequent contributor, you should add your name to the rockstor-doc AUTHORS file.

Unlike for code contributions, there is no need for a build VM. We use Sphinx to generate the html content from .rst files we edit. Installation procedure varies if you are on Mac, Windows, or Linux, so follow the appropriate installation guide for Sphinx.

Installing Sphinx

In order to properly develop and submit contributions you’ll need to install Sphinx, plus one Sphinx extension

Sphinx official documentation gives guidelines for installating Sphinx on various platforms. Details of how to install Sphinx is covered in their Installing Spinx documentation.

Once you have Sphinx installed you’ll need 1 more Sphinx extensions before you’re fully ready. The sphinxcontrib-fulltoc package, generates the sidebar table of contents.

sphinxcontrib-fulltoc generates detailed sidebar table of contents.

While you may not use the functionality of these extensions in your page, when you execute a make html to check your work, you’ll need these packages for the make to complete successfully. If you are generating videos, and prefer uploading your videos to the Rockstor Youtube channel, please, send an email to

For a Python 2 installation, use these commands.

[you@your_laptop /path/to/rockstor-doc]# sudo pip install --user sphinxcontrib-fulltoc

For a Python 3 installation, favoured, use these commands.

[you@your_laptop /path/to/rockstor-doc]# sudo pip3 install --user sphinxcontrib-fulltoc

Generating html files with Sphinx

As you edit the content in .rst files, you can periodically generate html files and review them in your browser. To generate or update the HTML files, use the following command

[you@your_laptop /path/to/rockstor-doc]# make html

HTML files are generated in _build/html directory. From a separate terminal window, you can have a simple Python webserver always serving up this content with one of the following commands:

For a Python 2 installation, use the following command.

[you@your_laptop /path/to/rockstor-doc/_build/html]# python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

For a Python 3 installation, use the following command.

[you@your_laptop /path/to/rockstor-doc/_build/html]# python -m http.server 8000

You can now go to http://localhost:8000 in your browser to review your changes. The webserver is to be started only once and it will continue to serve the files and changes you make to them.

After making any changes to a .rst file, run make html as shown above and refresh your browser.

Once you are satisfied with changes and committed them to your branch following the steps outlined here, you can open a pull request.

As you continue to work on an issue, commit and push changes to the issue branch of your fork. You can periodically push your changes to github with the following command:

[you@your_laptop ]# cd /path/to/rockstor-doc
[you@your_laptop rockstor-doc] git push origin your_branch_name

When you finish work for the issue and are ready to submit, create a pull request by clicking on the pull request button on github. This notifies the maintainers of your changes. As a best practice only open one pull request per issue containing all relevant changes.

When you are ready, open the pull request and please follow these 2 tips to expedite the review:

  • When you’ve finished your edit, run the Sphinx make html command, and paste its output into the pull request discussion string to help speed up the review. After you’ve generated the html, you can use the webserver detailed above to check the functionality of your work prior to your pull request
  • When you make a pull request, adding a “Fixes #number-of-issue” on its own line will automatically close the related issue when it gets merged. Just a nice thing to have and also provides a link to the relevant issue. See for details.