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HADOOP - Becoming a contributor

I want to be able to contribute to the source code of hadoop-common project, namely hadoop-hdfs-project. Although I'm well aware of the implementation of MapReduce onto hdfs but want to explore more and be able to get into changing/improving the source code in near future. I want to start as soon as I can and want to learn as well as contribute to the community. So in the process I checked out the source code, but was unable to build. Also when I started to just go through the source code, I was unable to figure out where to start from.

So, in short, what I need is

  1. a way to checkout and build the repo onto my system(preferably onto Eclipse IDE on Ubuntu 12.04).

  2. second thing I need is some guidance about how to dive into this pool of source code so that I can start from scratch.

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