6 Ways To Give Back To The Open Source Community

Last updated: January 14, 2017 at 4:28 am
I personally have benefited immensely from using free and open source software as have millions of other people. Ever since I started using Linux roughly 10 years ago, I have learned so much through using open source software, have saved heaps of money, and feel that by using and advocating for free software, I am helping the world in a small way. Here are 6 ways that you can give back to the free and open source software community.

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Image via pixabay.com

1. Become a developer on an existent open-source project.

Software of course needs developers, and with more developers, software can be developed faster, and usually improved. If you have specific programming skills, open source projects can always use your help. For example, Mozilla, the makers of Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client need developers who have skills in C++, Go, JavaScript or HTML/CSS, Java, Perl, Python, Make, shell, C, and more. Any one of these skills would be useful. Make sure to check with the organisation that you want to volunteer for.

Below is a small list of Open Source projects along with links on how to become a developer for them:
Libreoffice
https://www.libreoffice.org/community/developers/
https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Development
Mozilla
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_guide/Introduction

Debian
https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-faq/ch-contributing.en.html

Many of the open source communities are very friendly and welcoming of newcomers. Investigating these sites will give you more insights.

2. Create Your Own Open Source Software.

Many pieces of great open source software started with just 1 person. The sky is the limit, and these days, the main limitations are your own imagination and the amount of work you put into it. You can host your software on your own site or on one of the big software repositories in the world such as github.com, bitbucket.org, and many others. Here is a large list of  software hosting sites.

3. Translate Open Source Software.

While English is the lingua franca of the world, most people’s native language is not English. People generally prefer to use software in their own native language. By translating software into another language, you make open source software that much more accessible for other people.

4. Donate money.

Money makes the world go ’round, and while open source and free (libre) is free as in freedom, there are still real economic costs associated with making software. Electricity, computer hardware, connections to the Internet, and so on are not free as in cost, and someone has to pay for them. In addition, while many developers on open source projects are volunteers, there are some open source projects which employ full-time employees, and those people of course get paid.
Below are links to various software organizations and links to how you can donate to them:

The Free Software Foundation (FSF)
https://my.fsf.org/donate/

Debian
https://www.debian.org/donations

Wikimedia, the parent of Wikipedia
https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Ways_to_Give

Trisquel (a 100% free version of Ubuntu)
https://trisquel.info/en/donate

Linux Mint
https://www.linuxmint.com/donors.php

Mozilla
https://donate.mozilla.org/en-US/

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
https://supporters.eff.org/donate

Libreoffice
https://donate.libreoffice.org/

Openstreetmap.org
https://donate.openstreetmap.org/

5. Tell your family, friends, and community about free software.

Advocate for open source and free software. Even just telling one person about open source and free software can improve the world in a small way. Many governments around the world have adopted open source software, and you can advocate for your own government to do the same and/or for your local school(s) to also do so. Thinking of the money saved for schools and governments can be a huge selling point.

6. Become a Torrent Seed For Open Source Software And Become A Tor Relay

Nearly all big open source Linux distros allow you to download the software either by HTTP/FTP or by torrenting. Torrenting saves the site the cost of bandwidth, and you can help distribute the software around the world with your connection. And as for Tor, the more relays there are, the better. Tor helps people around the world evade censorship, stay secure, and makes the Internet a better place. Here is more information about becoming a Tor relay.

What did you think of this article? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

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