"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Other ways to join and contribute to the Open Source community

By Erik Severinghaus

Though Linux, is/was/always-will-be a hackers OS, there are lots of guys that couldn't hack the kernel to save their life. There are however lots of other badly needed areas which could use support.


This is one of the most important, and ignored, areas of Linux. Lets face it, coders don't ususally like to write documentation. Find a project you really like (start w/ a small app or something) and see if you can write an easy way to do the basic stuff, and then document the more advanced features. Have a tough time figuring out how to do something? Chances are lots of other guys are having the same problem. Write a HOWTO or Mini-HOWTO and submit it to the LDP. There are tons of other things that need documentation, and developers will love ya for it :).

Bug Testers

This is another thing that will make you a developers best friend. Take the programs, push 'em to the limits, and make 'em break. If you can do something to crash it, send a polite email to the author with your system specs, what version of software, exactly what you did, and exactly what happened when it crashed. Even better, do an strace if it seg faults and send the author the results.


Finding rpms and debs of the latest programs is tough to do. Reading some man pages to learn the ins and outs of rpm and dpkg, and rolling generic .tgzs into unofficial (or even better: official) packages is of great help to everyone.


This can be very useful if done correctly. Dispelling the endless FUD is always a Good Thing, but only if done in a polite and constructive manner (completely free of profanity). Please, before you do this, read the advocacy HOWTO.


These are just a few of the ways to help out and contribute to the Linux and Open Source communities. Remember, finding something you enjoy doing will help you do better work, and not get burned out.

Copyright © 1999, Erik Severinghaus
Published in Issue 44 of Linux Gazette, August 1999