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Open Source Projects

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I want to expand my programming abilities and experience, and was interested in getting involved in an open source project. I was interested in learning and getting involve with a linux project, or maybe an artificial intelligence project. I was wondering if anyone had any experiences getting involved in open source projects ...For example, do you have to be an expert in the field to start, or is it possible to be a newbie and learn as you go along. Any other tips or insight would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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Depends on the people running the show.

Don't come with "experienced VB and HTML coder with 6 months experience" to a cross-platform embedded linux project. It won't end well, and if you're lucky, nobody will even respond.

OSS is also about people. So expect to deal with egos, lack of respect, rejection and everything from the full spectrum of human behavior.

That said, people want contributors, not dead-weights. As yourself realistically: Can I *contribute*?

If you want to learn anything to further yourself, you'll need to get involved with a managed project, where requirements and goals are set, known and pursued. Otherwise you'll find yourself writing code on a dead project for 2 years with no result.

One way to test yourself is to go through existing projects, and find a project to take over, preferably a simple one, one that you have personal interest in. Fork it, even if just for yourself, then see if you can make meaningful contribution.

The problem with any progressing OSS project is that, unlike in a job, where management can threaten you into getting the job done, and you get paid for it, in OSS, drifters and other elements simply waste a lot of time. Even the best projects usually live due to drive of a single person.

But perhaps the only way to get in, is to simply get acquainted with a project, then get something done, and submit it. For anything higher ranking you might find that some things will be expected from you: professional programming experience (getting stuff done, tested, without touching anything else, with no critique of other people's code, following the style, being intimately familiar with various build techniques, development dynamics, and much more).

Then again, I don't know your past experience, and all of that might be second nature to you already.

As for expert vs. newbie - depends on the domain. Just don't go checking in the "new and improved linux scheduler" to stable linux kernel.

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