A shout out to open source and free software

Friday, 15 January 2010

Free and open source software is the lifeblood of the internet. You only need to look at the number of servers running open software, the number of sites written in open languages and the ability to be able to download a variety of top quality applications (virus protection, games, video players etc.) to know that; the figures speak for themselves.

On top of this we have the bloggers, the plug-in developers, the evangelists, the authors, distributors and hosts that all give something away to further the free and open cause. Let's also not forget the end users, they are also important, they purchase the books and manuals, make donations and attend the conferences. It is with great pleasure that you can survey the current software landscape and see the giving of time, knowledge and creativity for the benefit of everyone. For this I want to say a big thank you to everyone on behalf of everyone else.

As a developer, quite frequently during job interviews you will be asked if you contribute to open source or other online projects. I used to always answer no to this question. Sure everything I touched was built on open and free technology and my whole career depended on the stuff, but I had never gone so far as to actually participate.

So this is my call to everyone, developer or not, to go out and participate. How? You don't need to write lines of code to help, but you can still contribute. Like the software you're working on? Go out and talk about it, blog about it, write about it in forums, evangelise. Don't know how to write? Buy a manual and support an author, most of the time those people who wrote the book also helped write the code. Still can't think of a way to help, most projects make it quite easy to donate and every bit helps.

I love gimp, I love ubuntu, I love php and the list goes on. Go out and spread the love! Take some time out of your own schedule to contribute and don't forget to consider what we now enjoy thanks to open software.
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