Regardless of which OS you prefer, there is something to be said for volunteering with an open source project. For years, I have been making small financial contributions to projects that I enjoyed using. From OpenOffice to Miro, I loved them all. These days though, I spend what little free time I have (often weekends) working with the man behind one of the best webcam programs available on the Linux platform. I handle question answering and if I ever get a free moment, will begin working on more documentation for the software project.
The project has been of tremendous benefit to me from an educational standpoint in addition to being able to assist in keeping a project active that I have loved since day one. Basically, it has been a lot of fun.
But there are other benefits as well… unexpected benefits. Not only has the developer been helping me with getting a project that relates to one of my work gigs back off the ground, today he showed me something he’s working on that I think will change the way people use their iPhones. It’s all very exciting stuff.
Look, I am not a developer. I mean even basic HTML gives me a headache. But I am reasonably good at a “little bi” of just about everything. If you have a similar skill set, consider lending your time to a project that you believe in. Translation, documentation or even just frequenting the project’s forums to help out will do wonders. In the end, you will find your world will be enriched for the effort.
This is just something to consider next time you install a piece of open source software. Chances are, reaching out and offering help will be greatly appreciated.