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contribute to open source projectsWe’ve covered why it’s important to contribute to open-source projects Why You Should Contribute To Open Source Projects [Opinion] Why You Should Contribute To Open Source Projects [Opinion] The concept of open-source software is not new, and with huge, successful projects such as Ubuntu, Android, and other Linux-related OS's and apps, I think we can safely say it is a proven model for... Read More , but what if you’re not a coder? You don’t have to learn how to program Easily Keep Your New Year's Resolution To Learn How To Code [News] Easily Keep Your New Year's Resolution To Learn How To Code [News] If you've ever thought about learning computer programming, now might be a good time to start. The developers of Codecademy invite you to make a New Year's resolution to learn coding through their interactive programming... Read More  to help your favorite open-source projects. Many non-programmers volunteer some of their time to help their favorite open source projects – and you can join them.

Some open-source projects are backed by corporations, but many aren’t. Many are labors of love for all involved. If you have some free time – or money – you can give back to your favorite open-source projects Free Open Source Counterparts of Windows Software Free Open Source Counterparts of Windows Software Read More and help them grow.

See What the Project Needs

Your favorite open-source project may have a page laying out exactly what it needs. Do you love the VLC media player 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About VideoLan's VLC media player is a real box of tricks and is just as effective on a Windows operating system as it is on Mac or Linux. Those of you who are already using VLC... Read More ? Check out the Contribute page on its website.

contribute to open source projects

You’ll get the best idea of what your favorite project wants from the “Contribute” or “Getting Involved” page on its website, if it has one.

Donate Money

Open-source software may be freely downloadable, but most projects could still use money. Money pays for servers, bandwidth, and the myriad of other expenses open-source projects face. In VLC’s case, some money also goes to buy hardware for the developers to test against.

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You’ll often find a donation button on open-source project pages. Most projects will appreciate anything you can give them – think of how much value you get from your favorite software.

open source projects

In VLC’s case, the project could also use donations of hardware to test against. If you have some hardware lying around that you no longer use, you may be able to donate it to a project.

open source projects

Help Other Users

Open-source projects usually have mailing lists and forums where users ask questions. You can take a load off the developers and help out by answering these questions. It’s just like answering questions on MakeUseOf Answers. Firefox fans can help people with their Firefox problems on the official Firefox support forum.

open source projects

Write Good Bug Reports

If you run into a problem with an open-source application, you should report the bug on its bug tracker.

Don’t just head to the bug tracker and immediately post a new bug saying “it crashed“; follow good bug-reporting guidelines. Do a search and verify the bug hasn’t already been reported. If it hasn’t, report it with a clear summary and straightforward steps that will allow the developers to reproduce the bug. Don’t report the bug if you’re using an old version of the software – the developers may have already fixed the problem.

help open source projects

Writing bug reports is particularly helpful if you’re testing the latest development version Try New Firefox Features Before Anyone Else With Firefox Nightly & Other Channels Try New Firefox Features Before Anyone Else With Firefox Nightly & Other Channels Mozilla has recently been trying to up its game in the browser war, and step up the innovation. They realized they needed to get new features to end users more quickly, so to do this,... Read More of the software. You can help catch bugs before they make it into the stable version.

Triage Bugs

With all those bugs getting filed, someone has to handle them. You may be a bug-reporting genius, but not everyone else is. Consider getting involved in triaging bugs, if your favorite project is looking for help.

Triage is the first line of response to bugs. Bug triagers make sure bugs are properly categorized, ensure bug reporters supply enough information, confirm the bugs, and verify they’re not duplicates. This allows developers to focus on fixing the bugs instead of sorting through them.

If you’re an Ubuntu fan, check out the How to Triage page on the Ubuntu wiki to get started triaging bugs for Ubuntu DOWNLOAD Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner's Guide DOWNLOAD Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner's Guide Curious about Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? Start here: "Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner's Guide", by author Courtney Loo, is the latest free guide from MakeUseOf and will teach you everything you need to... Read More . Over a thousand people are part of the Ubuntu Bug Squad, although you don’t have to join it to get started.

help open source projects

Write Documentation

Most projects need some form of documentation written, and you can be the one to do it – assuming you’re a decent writer. Depending on the project, there may be a guide to getting started, like GNOME has, or you may have to contact the developers directly. You can also get involved in the project’s wiki, if the project has one. Contributing to a wiki is an easy way to get started.

Translate The Software

Open-source software is used by people from all over the world. To meet everyone’s needs, the software must be translated into different languages. If you know another language, you can do some of the translating. Most big projects need translators. Here’s GNOME’s translation project page.

contribute to open source projects

Help With Graphics & Design

Designers can get in on the action, too. Projects generally require some design work, whether it’s graphics creation 5 Free Awesome Graphic Design Tutorial Sites You Should Check Out 5 Free Awesome Graphic Design Tutorial Sites You Should Check Out Read More or user interface design 3 Tools to Create Mock-up Designs and Wireframes Online 3 Tools to Create Mock-up Designs and Wireframes Online Read More . Check out your favorite project’s Contribute page to see how you can get involved – Ubuntu advises people to join the Unity Design mailing list to help with the Unity desktop Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More .

How have you contributed to open source? Leave a comment and let us know.

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