If you are anything like me, you will love Linux and the whole open source ethos around it. It’s free (as in beer and as in freedom), it’s secure, it looks great and for the most part, it works great.
Linux developers give us a great product for no money. Because of this, many people feel they want to give back. However, many think that the only real way of giving back to their favorite Linux distribution is to be a developer. Well, it isn’t.
Here’s a list of some of the ways you can get involved and give back to your favorite Linux distribution, without being a developer.
This one is simple. Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees and the thousands of developers that contribute to many of the best Linux distributions do so on a voluntary basis. So projects like Ubuntu rely heavily on donations from their users.
Many Linux distributions allow you to make a donation at the time of downloading, and many others usually have a donation link somewhere on their site. Ubuntu defaults to a small donation of just $15 before downloading, considering Windows 10 costs about $120, this is a small price to pay in comparison.
Donations can be as little or as much as you want, you can even make regular donations if you prefer. Every little helps.
2. Forum Contributions
Linux distributions and open source software in general are heavily community focused, with many Linux distributions supporting their users via community forums. Questions can range from simple things, like “How do I reset my user account password?” to “My machine won’t boot, how do I fix it?”
If you have been using Linux for any length of time, it’s likely that you will be able to answer some of these questions, or at least point people in the right direction. You don’t need to be a Linux wiz to help other users in community forums.
3. Report Bugs
Linux developers are great at fixing bugs, but they only know what bugs to fix if users like you report them. This can be done in a number of ways.
If a program or system utility crashes whilst in use, a warning message will usually pop up and in many cases will ask you to file a bug report.
Many people simply click on the cancel button without actually filing a bug report. It is far better to click on the “report problem” button. A bug report will then automatically be generated and sent to the developers of your Linux distribution.
There are also tools like Launchpad and Github that allow users to submit bug reports manually. This is usually a simple affair that’s not much different than making a post in the community forums. Simply describe the problem you’re facing and the steps you did leading up to it.
Reporting bugs really is a good habit to be in, as it will not only improve your Linux distribution overall by fixing any bugs or problems you may have, but it will also give you that warm fuzzy feeling of actually being involved with a project, rather than simply being a user.
Many Linux distributions tend to use Launchpad to manage their bugs, whilst open source applications tend to use Github.
4. Write Documentation
Writing documentation is a great way to get involved with your favorite Linux distribution. If you have a flair for writing, but not necessarily technical, writing documentation could be a great way for you to contribute.
Many distributions have their own dedicated wiki, so you can sign up and start adding/editing documentation quickly and easily.
Some larger distributions, like Ubuntu, have their own dedicated projects for writing manuals. The Ubuntu Manual Project is actually a project that I used to write for. Each author gets their own chapter to write.
So if you have stronger knowledge on a particular subject within Ubuntu, or any of its core applications, such as using Firefox, then you may be able to contribute to projects like the Ubuntu Manual Project.
Or, maybe you’re bi-lingual and want to translate some documentation. Many distributions are crying out for translators to help with their documentation.
Psst! We even have our own Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide!
5. Spread the Word
This one is so simple, literally anyone can do it. Spread the word, people! Tell them how awesome Linux is, why you use it, and why it’s better than Windows. The more people that know about Linux, the more people are likely to try it.
It could be something as simple as following your favorite projects on social media and sharing their posts. Maybe you could write a blog post about it, or just simply give someone who says “oh, what’s that?” when they look at your screen, some information about Linux and maybe even a download link.
What Are You Waiting For?
Why put it off? You can get involved right now using any of the methods above. Most Linux distributions have a page on their website that’s dedicated to getting involved, so if you’re not sure, their website is usually a good place to start.
Ubuntu actually have a very useful wizard that will allow you to work out the best way for you to contribute to their projects.
Do you contribute to your favorite Linux distribution? If so, tell us how you do it in the comments below.