How I got into contributing to the open source software

And what is it good for?

LiriOS desktop. Source: https://liri.io

About a year ago I’ve stumbled on cool project called PapyrOS which is an OS based on Linux with its own desktop environment. First I thought “oh yet another Ubuntu OS”. But my eye was caught by beautiful material design which I became the fan of.

Early screenshot of Papyros’s Desktop Shell

I was interested and followed to the Google plus community of this project where I found magnificent mockups of what OS could look like in the future. One more thing captured me is that project is developed using Qt and QML whose I’m fond of. I was obsessed with the idea of contributing to the open source project for a while, but at that time I have other problems to solve. So I just kept an eye on this project.

Recently PapyrOS merged with another project with the same goals called Hawaii OS and became LiriOS. Project is a bit more mature now than when it was PapyrOS, yet a lot of things has to be done. But it’s looking great already at this point.

Screenshot of Hawaii OS desktop. Source: http://hawaiios.org/

As you can see both operating systems share the same concept, yet have different design vision. PapyrOS design looked better, and I guess this is why Liri OS’s desktop looks almost identical to PapyrOS’s one.

A part of the project is a Liri browser. Latest release is pretty descent. You can download it from https://github.com/liri-project/liri-browser/releases. It is being rewritten now from the scratch and moved to the new repository (https://github.com/lirios/browser), so it lacks almost all the features it had before. But it’s actively developing, Tim Süberkrüb did a great job!

Anyway I couldn’t stand and finally contributed to the project. I’ve implemented few important shortcuts. Without them the browser wasn’t usable for me at all. This didn’t take much time and was fun to do. This is what I like in free open source software, you can change things you don’t like by yourself. Collaboration with developers all over the world gives a great feeling.

Github is a great resource. It gives anyone a unique opportunity to be the part of something big. Despite the fact that I make my living developing games, enjoying it every day, contributing to the open source project is an absolutely different experience. If you’ve never contributed to the open source software, try it! It’s fun and exciting! You can grow as a developer just by reading other people’s code. Try to start from little changes as I did. This don’t take much time and effort. Yet you can do something useful that others will definitely appreciate.

As a developer, contributing, you improve following skills:

  • Communication with other people — one of the key skills for developer. Though you can work alone, a team is able to do bigger projects.
  • Culture of code — your code will be reviewed, this is great! You will know the ways of improving your code
  • Reading a code that wasn’t written by you (actually the key skill for any dev)
  • Discipline — when you contribute, your code is shared to public, so you can’t commit a code you’ll be ashamed of. Owners of the project will require you to follow their code guidelines and overall project rules. Discipline makes you a great developer.
  • Project management — you will get familiar with issue tracking and planning
  • Ownership — when you commit something, you feel responsible for the changes you did. So if a problem with your code appears, you’re the first who want to fix it. This also improves discipline. Quality work should be your standard.
  • Learning — working with other devs gives you opportunity to learn from more experienced mates or share you experience with newbies. And the known fact is when you teaching someone, you’re also learning.

Of course, besides developers, free open source software needs other specialists and activists: designers, translators, testers etc. This is an opportunity to socialize, collaborate, innovate and create the great thing.


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