Going From User to Contributor With FOSS

Written By: Jake Bauer | Posted: 2020-05-25 | Last Updated: 2020-05-25

I used to be like the majority of people when it came to using my computers. I would log onto Windows, open Chrome, browse to YouTube and social media sites, and generally just consume content. If I was frustrated with a piece of software or encountered a bug, I would learn to accept it because I thought I had no other choice if I wanted to keep using that software. That was many years ago now and, since then, things have changed quite a bit.

Not only did I enter into a Computer Science program at university which exposed me to many fundamental computing concepts, I also became acquainted with the world of Free and Open Source Software. Slowly, I learned to program and do things for myself. Eventually, I switched to using Linux full-time and spiralled ever further down the rabbit hole of the history and philosophies behind computing, Free and Open Source Software, and alternative operating systems.

I’ve come a long way since those days of being nothing more than a consumer of content and I think I can attribute a lot of my growth to FOSS. Now when I encounter a problem, instead of my first thought being, “I need to find a piece of software to solve this problem,” or, “oh well, nothing I can do against these big companies”, my first thought is usually, “how can I solve this problem myself.” Now, instead of giving up when web searches yield no useful results, I’ll turn to the source code, official documentation, or specifications (most of which are generally freely available) for answers.

The availability of code under Free and Open Source licenses, and the ability to freely share and collaborate online has changed the way that I view and interact with computers. It’s turned me from a simple consumer of what others create, into someone who tries to solve problems myself if an existing solution is not available or is unsatisfactory.

You might even say that FOSS has empowered me, as it has many others.

This is my twenty-ninth post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at https://100daystooffload.com.