You seem to like this Jenkins thing well enough, but you'd like to contribute back to the project, help improve things, etc. Welcome!
We generally call Jenkins core the jenkins project itself, who lives there on github. Creating your own fork and submitting a pull request is a great way to begin contributing your fixes.
More information about the copyrights can be found here.
Jenkins' github repositories are hooked up to the scm-issue-link daemon.
Obviously replace nnnn with the issue number.
For more information see the scm-issue-link page.
In the core, we try to loosely follow the Oracle Java Code Conventions. Plugins are up to each owner, and we respect whatever choice they make.
For changes that you feel comfortable, we normally expect folks to just push straight in. This includes localization, which only few of us can review. When you do this, you just need to be prepared that someone might yank that out later.
For other times, people feel more comfortable going through a pull request or a patch in the issue tracker, so that they have someone else's ack to be integrated, especially for the first few changes. Never hurts to have a second, or third opinion.
As for any other code, you should have unit tests for your contribution. If you're e.g. want to contribute a bug fix, you should have a unit test which exposes the bug in the old code and confirms that it's fixed after your change.
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