Tathagata asks: "I'm a student, on my final year in a college in India, and I have been using GNU/Linux for quite sometime now. Though I'm from a Computer Science background, getting into a project that involves serious programming was not possible, as people (read teachers) run away if you utter the word 'Linux'. They are generally not bothered about mentoring someone on an exciting project, and they would suggest you to get settled with Visual Basic, .NET, — and would prefer a 24 hour solution when it comes to programming. So, my programming endeavors have remained limited to writing few lines of C/C++, or Java. For last few days, I've been googling, and trying to read how to join an existing Open Source project." What suggestions would you pass along to someone who is willing to join his first Open Source effort?
Most of the things I've read suggest that a good place to start is by submitting patches, fixing bugs, becoming package maintainer — but most are overloaded with jargon like upstream/downstream, nightly builds, and so forth. Additionally, how does joining the mailing list, or the IRC channel help when you don't even understand the slang, not to mention the intricacies of the technical discussion? It 's quite an overwhelming world to step in. Could you suggest a road map, links to essential tools or a few projects, for people like me, who would want to improve their skills by contributing FOSS?"