So you've been a part of the huge collaborative Linux community and have learned or benefited a lot from them. And now you hear about contributing back some love to the community through various means: developing software, maintaining, documenting, sharing, etc Maybe you are stuck figuring out at which to choose right now. Or have no idea at all where to start.
Even I found myself lost when I wanted to give something back to the Linux community not knowing how or where to start. If you find yourself in this similar position then I am happy to let you know that you're reading this article at the right time! In this article, I'll provide some brief info about each means of contributing to the Linux community. Moreover, I hope you find your answer (a skill that you are good at) that you can use it to give some love back to the community.
Donating money is the easiest way to contribute to Linux and is also the most beneficial of all. Because through donation the Linux team of developers, maintainers, volunteers, etc can organize/attend workshops and meetups where they can discuss new ideas, fix bugs, and implement features requested by the end users. Since most Linux community is completely volunteer-based, there is no direct income revenue. So your donation will greatly help them realize their value. If you are wondering about the amount, a dollar matters a lot or maybe the amount of a cup of coffee.
However, there are some of us who don't have financial means to support the community. Don't worry there are other ways too.
Have you taken a moment to share about Linux with your families and friends or your co-workers? If not do so today. Let them know about free software and how they can save a lot of money investing in them. Sharing is love. But don't be too persistent because that might put them off. Instead, learn to address their issue they are currently facing with free and open source software alternative when they need it most. Trust me that works :)
Moreover, get ready to face rejection and some criticism too. When I demonstrated how Linux has a place in gaming through this popular gaming platform called Steam, some of my friends were quick to criticize me about weird Linux packages (for installing software), Windows specific games that didn't work on Linux (through Steam), etc. Still, yet I was satisfied to know that my friends now know Linux.
Participating in forums
OK by now you are already on the verge of being a veteran Linux user or have gained enough experience to know your way around Linux. You can sign up for forums related to Linux topic and help newbies + other users solve their problems. There will be questions that you already know the answer to. Not only forums, you can also connect other Linux users through IRC chats. Linux Mint by default has HexChat (IRC client) application installed out of the box. One day I had an issue with setting up a USB dongle and I had a lot of help through HexChat.
Since Linux is open source, that means you can contribute to writing documentation for the community. They'll appreciate a lot :)
There are some Linux websites that need updating its documentation. Outdated documentation doesn't help a user who is trying to figure out his Linux box. So if you are familiar with the content and is comfortable with writing, you can contribute to writing/updating documentation so others reading it can benefit a lot.
Blogging about Linux technology is the best approach if you wish to throw in personal opinions, humor, tutorials, etc to your content. The Documentation part we discussed above is somewhat formal while blogging can either be formal or informal. For instance, this article you are currently reading right now is a LinuxAndUbuntu blog and has personal opinions thrown in. You can create your own personal blog and maintain it or write for someone's blog in which case you have to make sure the entity is offering a writer spot for his blog.
Every Linux software and Operating Systems have their equivalent testing version. Using them is up to the user's choice. However, if you are good at technology and understands how to report a bug and request new features, taking this approach is another great way for you to contribute back to the Linux community. Your contributions today will help developers fix software issues and implement new features for the end users afterward. Of course, you are also a user but slightly up at the higher level; between the developers and the end users.
You know how to create software using a development platform. Or maybe you are good at algorithms. Try contributing directly to the developer by patching fix for a bug. Unfortunately, not everyone has a computer science degree so I intently placed this section at the bottom. Like donating money, coding too benefits the Linux community a lot. There are so many development platforms; to name some few: desktop software (GTK and Qt), user applications (Telegram, LibreOffice, etc), system applications (systemd, Linux kernel, etc) and so on... Choose your area of expertise and start hacking ;) Maybe one day you might change the world like Linus Torvalds (Linux inventor) did.
There you have it. Various ways to contribute back to the Linux community. Maybe you're still stuck at the many choices I've mentioned above. Don't worry, just relax. Take a step back and start with the easiest one; ie. trust what your gut tells you. There are many other cool ways to contribute to the Linux community. Unfortunately, I couldn't have figured them all by myself. Maybe, why not tell your story about your creative ways on how you contribute to the Linux community in the comment section below. I'll be sure to read them.
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