2020-11-11-give-back-to-foss.md (3645B) - raw


      1 <!-- title: Give back to free and open source software -->
      2 <!-- slug: give-back-to-foss -->
      3 <!-- categories: FOSS, Miscellany -->
      4 <!-- date: 2020-11-11T18:25:00Z -->
      5 <!-- lastmod: 2020-11-16T23:22:00Z -->
      6 
      7 Most people make use of free and open source software—or services based on
      8 it—that is made available to the public for free. And I mean free, not services
      9 that you pay with your data, but those that are truly free of cost. Projects
     10 that rely on donations, grants, and the resources of the maintainers (and most
     11 of the time it's only the latter). If you are a heavy user of FOSS, you are
     12 probably already aware of this, but even if you are not a big user, you probably
     13 still use Wikipedia (or other sites based on the same engine), the VLC media
     14 player, or others.
     15 
     16 These programs are great, not only because they are universally affordable (have
     17 no cost!), but because they are focused on the user. Their goal is to serve the
     18 user, not the developer, which often involves software that is more private,
     19 useful and easy to adapt to your needs. Software that doesn't break after a
     20 couple of years, and that keeps working even on older devices.
     21 
     22 But this post is not about how great FOSS is, but about helping out these
     23 projects. All projects have a cost, if there is no monetary cost, then there
     24 must be people behind it contributing their time and energy. If you regularly
     25 enjoy some of this software, consider giving back to the developers. This kind
     26 of project normally requires a lot fewer resources than commercial ones, and
     27 even then, the maintainers normally carry most of the burden. By helping out, we
     28 can enlarge the community and have more people working on it, as well as help
     29 current projects grow. How can we help? Glad you asked!
     30 
     31 - **Donate**: It's easy, doesn't require a lot of your resources, and it helps.
     32   My biggest issue is normally convenience. If every time that I have the
     33   thought "this is very useful, I should donate", I could press a button to give
     34   2 euros, I would probably do it. The problem is that there is no such
     35   convenient button. My most successful strategy has been thinking about a
     36   handful of projects I wanted to donate to, and then sit down on my computer
     37   and donate a bigger amount to each one of them. This way I only have to do it
     38   once every so many months, instead of a little donation every two weeks.
     39 - **Report bugs**: Instead of complaining that something doesn't work, take some
     40   time to make sure it's something about the program (not just you messing up)
     41   and, if it is, go to the project's bug tracker and either provide more details
     42   to an already open issue or file a new one if you can't find it there. This is
     43   can be more time-consuming depending on the bug, but it's free (except for the
     44   time you pay, of course :)).
     45 - **Translate**: This one takes even more time! Is that program not in your
     46   native language? Translate it yourself!
     47 - **Send patches**: If you want a new feature, there is an annoying bug, etc.,
     48   consider jumping into the code and implement it/solve it on your own (or
     49   asking for some help doing it).
     50 
     51 There are other ways to help (feel free to contact me if you think of more and
     52 I'll add them), but these are the ones that come to mind. I partially wanted the
     53 post to be a reminder that donating money and coding are not the only ways to
     54 help. In particular, reporting bugs is something most users will be able to do
     55 and it helps—you can't fix it if you don't know about it. On the other hand,
     56 depending on the project, such bugs will get fixed in a matter of days, so
     57 you'll be able to reap the benefit.
     58 
     59 Enjoy a project? Help out!