Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Contributing to the open source movement

The increased use of Linux on my desktop is pushing to an even more active involvement in various aspects of the open source movement. Not as a developer. I don’t think my rudimentary knowledge of programming Basic on the Vic20 or the TurboPascal a few years later would be enough to make any sort of contribution. This doesn’t mean that promoting open source software is not within my reach. On the contrary. I do believe I have other skills that could be of some use.

One is this blog, to write down my experiences, my reviews and the search for solutions. I have decided to stick mostly with the perspective from the Windows user who dips a toe in the Linux pond. I do believe that Linux is mature enough for the desktop and should be discussed, criticized, valued and judged accordingly. Over the last few years I have written various articles about open source software under Windows in comparison to proprietary, closed source software. Straight forward comparisons with little consideration for the fact that open source software was/is for free. I want it to be good and I think developers need this kind of feedback from desktop users. Moving this perspective to the entire Linux desktop is actually a small and logical step.

Secondly I am more active in various IRC channels than in the past. I have no time to spend entire days in the channels, but when I can spare an hour I join a few of them. Currently I focus on the Ubuntu and the Sabayon channels, the two distributions I am using. It is interesting to see which questions people ask and how often I have a suggestion or two to help out. The questions themselves are a great source of inspiration for the book I am writing.

Thirdly there are the bug reports. It’s a small thing to do, but it is the stuff the developers need to see how their software is doing under various circumstances. Yesterday I filed three bug reports. Maybe they were already known, but each piece of the puzzle can be of use.

Fourthly I still write my articles and give a workshop here and there. I am doing this for a few years now and has provided me in turn with knowledge and skills that are invested in the book.

And that is the true beauty of it all. The more you get involved and contribute, the more you get back. You can contribute when you are able to in various ways and as a reward you learn more about the operating system, the world and the underlying philosophy: “there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” Without it, there would be no Linux, no open source software.

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