Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How can you become a FOSS / Open-Source Contributor

Considering joining the open-source movement but don't know where to start? Learn some tips on this post.
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

FOSS is awesome! Millions of people around the world dedicate their time working and free/open-source software benefiting the world around us. Most likely the tools use love and use are probably backed by open-source software one way or another. For example, the internet you're using now runs on Linux. SmartTVs, drones, cars, super computers, your android phone and yes, even your iOS device is also based on BSD, a FOSS project. 

There are hundreds thousands of projects you probably use that available for free. Projects like like Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice, git, Bootstrap, React, FontAwesome, OpenSSH, internet servers, just to name a few. On this post let's learn ways you too can help free/open-source communities around the world.

Tips for programmers

If you know how to program and would like to contribute that way, here's a couple of ways you could help the community:
  • Writing code;
  • Submitting pull requests;
  • Reviewing code;
Once you understand the project requirements, philosophy, workflow and communication channel, get in touch with the project maintainer(s) to present yourself. The easiest way for those that know how to program is to go directly to the project page. A nice start page would be Git Explore.

Tips for non-programmers

Do not have programming skills? Don't give up! There are lots of other ways you can help. Check the list below.


Like writing? There's definitely gaps in documentation on free/open-source software. Consider supporting your favourite project on:
  • Documentation;
  • Tutorials;
  • Translations;


You're a designer? There are lots of opportunities to contribute with your artistic skills on free/open-source software. For example:
  • Logos;
  • UI mockups;
  • Event banners;
  • Fonts;
  • User Experience
  • TShirts;

Participating / Organizing Events

Social events? You can always participate in:
  • Meetups;
  • Install fests;
  • Volunteering in bigger events

Using the software

Know well some specific software? Why not help people:
  • installing free software;
  • on Q/A sites around the internet
  • on Slack/IRC/Discuss channels;
  • helping someone else installing/troubleshooting someone else's computer;

Helping with Infrastructure

Know systems and infrastructure? What about:
  • supporting servers;
  • donating servers;
  • maintaining the build systems;
  • packaging;


None of the previous? What about donating to organizations you like / admire / support other FOSS projects like:

Supporting other Users

You can always support other users by answering their questions on StackOverflowAskFedora or AskUbuntu for example.


On your school, university or company? What about educating people on how to use free/open-source software?

Writing posts

What about blog posts? Even those as simple as as this one help people around the world! 😊



This post was just to present ideas on how to start helping open source projects. Most people think that contributing to open source is just about code while it is not. There's tons of ways we can start helping others out there so why not?

See Also

About the Author

Bruno Hildenbrand      
Principal Architect, HildenCo Solutions.