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Open Source GNU is Not Unix PHP Software

Finding Open Source Projects Looking For Help? 151

aus writes "I've been doing web development for about 10 years now. It's been very good to me, but I want to do more than write HTML, PHP, JavaScript and CSS. Since the job market isn't all that great right now in the US, it would seem that volunteering some time on an open source project would give me the satisfaction I'm looking for. The problem is finding a project that wants/needs help that I would also be interested in. I've tried browsing around on Sourceforge and Freshmeat ... is there a site somewhere that I'm not aware of that has classifieds where open source project maintainers post 'job' listings?"
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Finding Open Source Projects Looking For Help?

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  • by tokul ( 682258 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:24PM (#32793184)
    Find project you like or use and start contributing. Or ask them if they need any help.
  • stackoverflow (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    stackoverflow features some user submitted ads for open source projects.

  • Sorta Kinda Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:28PM (#32793206) Homepage Journal

    In the volunteer aspect it is more of a passion based decision than an recruitment oriented process. My advice is find something you both care about and also feel the site in question needs improvement. Next, simply hop on the forums or news feed and offer your services. It doesn't necessarily hurt to have some material already developed to get the discussion flowing.

    Higher profile is probably going to be a bit more difficult so you may not want to go looking for the top 10 applications of all time. Those circles (even of volunteers) tend to be more work to edge your way into responsibility. Still, my experience has been very positive with contributions and generally working with a project I do not own. I had a good deal of fun one weekend with a BitPim developer banging out support for my phone.

    If you need explicit areas where your talents could probably be used I highly recommend seeing if you can get the guys over at http://www.memtest.org/ [memtest.org] to let you revamp their page. The program is nice, but the web page is atrocious.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions for who needs a make over? (That could be a reality series television show!)

    • by Eudial ( 590661 )

      What's wrong with that web page? The fact that the design is minimal indicates that they're all about the engineering aspect of programming instead of about how things look, that the project has been around for a long time, and that it possibly has roots in academia. That's exactly the message they should be broadcasting. Not "I've done some PHP programming so project webpage looks awesome and now I found a C tutorial telling me how to write hello world and extended it to mess about with your hardware."

      • by Cylix ( 55374 ) *

        At a point a seasoned project should have something a bit better then one page scrolls for eternity. Maybe I want to quickly find the change logs or look at the latest screen shots?

        Just because something is better then minimalistic does not mean the project has no engineering merit. It's not a bias slider that prevents any meaningful development.

        • I agree about there not being anything wrong with the website. Its simple and if you need to get any particular piece of information you click the link at the top. The common functions are easy to get to; If I want to download the product I click the link and im then shown the types I want to download. If I go to the website im not likely to want more information than reading one section unless I want to go indepth
  • X.org (Score:4, Funny)

    by siride ( 974284 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:30PM (#32793214)
    Please someone help X.org. They need it pretty bad.
  • All of them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:30PM (#32793216)

    All open source projects are hiring - just find a program you like that has a bug or omission. If it's useful for your day job, even better.

    • Actually, there's no need for a site listing open source jobs, because most of the time the contributer should be the user of the project, so you should keep looking at your own softwares, not a list of open source projects.
    • Not All of them (Score:3, Informative)

      by rundgong ( 1575963 )
      All of them are not looking for help.
      Not all open source software are open source because of the community collaboration aspect of it.
      Some people just want to do their thing and work at it alone but for various reasons want to publish the source (ideological reasons, bragging rights, looks good on a resume, etc.)

      I don't know how common this is, but it definitely exist.

      Another reason a OSS project might not really be "hiring" is that it is half dead. It has a TODO list but it didn't make a release in a
  • idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:30PM (#32793218) Journal
    use your mad php/css/html/js skillz to make a website where people can find projects that need help.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by johne_ganz ( 750500 )
      If I had any moderator points, you'd get them. I think this comment is more insightful than it appears at first glance. While I applaud the articles root authors desire to help an open source project, it is a slightly different way of approaching the problem. Maybe the best way the root author can help open source projects is to "meta-help" them- make it easier for open source projects that need help in areas that are beyond their skill sets to connect with people willing to provide that help. For examp
      • Re:idea (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mike.lifeguard ( 1313559 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @07:25PM (#32794568) Homepage

        This is precisely what openhatch.org is for.

        • Thanks for the tip, I honestly didn't know that site existed.
        • openhatch.org has the same problem I easy everywhere: no easy way to say if one's skills are appropriate for the project.

          Choose a languange: SQL, Python, etc. or choose a project. Well I can do some development work in say, SQL, but maybe I'm more interested in writing docs or translating them, but I can't tell without going into the project and damn! sometimes not even then.

          I done some translation work for Joel Spolsky, I like what he writes, he posts a messages saying "I need translators", he got me.


      • What's your project? You just missed a great oppotunity to get some help...

        I can translate into Spanish (done work for TED, Population Policy Council, Joel Spolsky, others) but I can't tell if I'm interested in spending time in your project

        Write your project address in your ./ signature, someone will see it everytime you post here; do the same for your emails and any other accounts you have elsewhere.


  • Openhatch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:32PM (#32793226)

    This might be useful



    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      OpenHatch is pretty sweet, but it is fairly unknown at present. I've had only one bite and it didn't materialize into any help at all. I'm hopeful the project will expand into a useful resource for both potential contributors and the projects, but right now, it isn't so great.

  • How-To (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ddt ( 14627 ) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:32PM (#32793228) Homepage

    Find a project with a mailing list where people are asking for a feature that is just below the radar, keeps getting put off because of more important things. Implement it, submit the patch, and pray. If no love, which is unfortunately common and even likely for new contributors, shoot video of the feature in action and send a letter out to the mailing list linking the video, and let them know where they can find the patch if they want it, start collecting and posting feedback on the patch from users.

    • Hi Dave Could you let me know where i could find projects with mailing lists? Kind Regards info@jogpods.com www.jogpods.com
  • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:34PM (#32793240)
    Some of you FOSS guys chime in here and correct me, but I bet any and every project would welcome you if you offered testing, writing testing scripts, and writing docs and help.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:37PM (#32793262)

      testing, writing testing scripts, and writing docs and help


      One of the biggest complaints about open source apps is the documentation. Everyone wants to code it, no one wants to document it.

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        However half the time it would be better to actually fix the broken uncomfortable user interface instead of documenting the brokenness and its workarounds. Documentation is nice to have, but its even better to not need them in the first place.

        • by xymog ( 59935 )
          +1. Usually the UI is "designed" too late in the release cycle to make changes; the reasons given are a variation on, "It's only temporary; we'll change it in the next version." Heh -- there's nothing more permanent than a temporary solution. I have spent enough years in UI design and documentation to know that both are unwelcome feedback loops in the dev process. It's sad but true; a dev doesn't want to know how to make it better, the dev just wants a writer to meet the documentation milestone on the Gan
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        Yyyyyeah. How are you supposed to figure out what the software does unless you can read the code? Typical.
    • As for our project, Enano CMS [enanocms.org], we'd definitely appreciate people willing to write documentation, or even translate the CMS into their own preferred language! Those are actually probably the most important tasks right now.

      Though, if it is coding you're looking for, we do have coding tasks that we'd like to get done. If anyone's interested, all they have to do is hop into our IRC channel on Freenode (#enano) [irc].

  • OpenHatch (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Try OpenHatch [openhatch.org], a website that catalogues bugs needing fixin' in loads of opensource projects.

  • LaunchPad (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:41PM (#32793282)


  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @03:48PM (#32793342) Homepage

    And most realize it. Find a project that interests you. Start using it. Download the source and play with it. Subscribe to the mailing-lists/forums etc. Once you are comfortable and think you know what is going on start filing bug reports, submitting patches, and participating in discussions. Concentrate initially on the boring stuff nobody likes to do such as sorting through old bugs and cleaning up documentation. Eventually you'll be offered commit provileges.

    • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:45PM (#32793692)

      But please do NOT show up one day with 50 new tickets explaining how a piece of software SHOULD have been designed, with proposals for a complete redesign. This happened recently on an F/OSS project I help with...while the guy's ideas were good, it was his manner of presentation that was off-putting. There is no way in hell I will give this guy commit privs with the gangbuster attitude he has. In fact, I politely suggested to him that a fork off our project might be better to suit his goals.

      If you present yourself as a threat to the project's developers, you will never get commit privs, and most likely your suggestion will just end up in the "blue-sky" milestone. Constructive criticism has its place, but it's all in how you present it.

      • Good points. You may feel that major changes are needed (and you may be right) but before you suggest them you must gain credibility.

      • by Burz ( 138833 )

        If you present yourself as a threat to the project's developers, you will never get commit privs, and most likely your suggestion will just end up in the "blue-sky" milestone. Constructive criticism has its place, but it's all in how you present it.

        If his ideas are that good you should be taking them eagerly and maybe even prioritizing some of them to work on yourself despite not giving him commit privs! Saying that recognizably good ideas will get kicked to the curb if they are presented in a way that's counter to your group's sensibilities tells me that you probably developed the attitude problem before the newcomer did.

        Swallow your pride once in a while, for crisesakes.

        "We'll take your ideas and not let you work on them here" is how you deal with

        • I don't think that's what the GP was referring to necessarily. Certainly good ideas should never be kicked to the curb, but on the other hand, if the main team doesn't have the time or resources to work on those good ideas, and it's not felt that the potential new contributor will fit within the team, then kicking to the curb may be appropriate. Being able to work with the rest of the developers on the team is a key part of any contributor that has commit privs.

          Some folk don't necessarily fit that mold.

        • by pongo000 ( 97357 )

          If his ideas are that good you should be taking them eagerly and maybe even prioritizing some of them to work on yourself despite not giving him commit privs!

          FWIW, that's exactly what I did: I took some of his more timely ideas/patches and incorporated them into the codebase as a show of good faith. Hey, we're glad to use all the help we can get!

      • How you take it has a lot to do with it as well.

  • Is a pretty decent PHP framework but the Docs are practically nonexistent - seems like you could contribute there.
  • With only 2 coders keeping XBMC alive on the Xbox we could ALWAYS use more help. Head on over to http://www.xbmc4xbox.org/forum [xbmc4xbox.org] and start volunteering already.! Go. Don't walk. RUN
  • by fcanas ( 1134381 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:01PM (#32793436)
  • pleaseforkme.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rbrant ( 1848396 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:01PM (#32793438)
    I created pleaseforkme.com with the intention of solving this problem..just haven't had time to get people into using it!
  • OpenHatch [openhatch.org], a website I help run, exists to help people find ways they can contribute to free and open source software.

    (It was covered on Slashdot a few weeks ago [slashdot.org].)

    We have a few things that you might like:

    • The volunteer opportunity finder [openhatch.org], a listing of free software projects' "bitesized" buts, organized by project, language, or type of help wanted (e.g. writing documentation). We index thousands of bugs from hundreds of projects.
    • The "I want to help!" button, a way to express interest in helping a project even if you don't know what to do. For an example, check out the people who want to help GNU social [openhatch.org].
    • Project pages like Gally's [openhatch.org], where existing contributors have written about what kind of help they want.

    If you want to work on a project which has contributors in your area (maybe you want to get together for a hackathon, or to ask questions about how something in the code works), check out the ubiquitous People Map. You can see everyone on the site [openhatch.org] or browse by project or skill.

    OpenHatch is itself free software, and we have a small and growing volunteer contributor base. (-:

    Let us know what you do or don't like!

    • Erm, "bitesized bugs", not "bitesized buts". What an embarrassing typo (but I guess it could have been worse.)

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I like big bugs and I cannot lie!!

    • Darn it! You've been slashdotted... I'll save and try later.
    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      I will look at it. I'm reasonably competent at running a gdb trace and some other tools. What I personally need is to have a specific distribution such as Fedora 13 with ALL the debugging turned on and any optimizations that will kill debugging turned off. I'm willing to run a VM with as many as it takes, do the grunt work of regressions etc. But there's a limit to what I can do on my own. If it's turnkey and mostly automated or I have detailed instructions then I can do it. I am not a coder but there needs

  • Debian WNPP (Score:4, Informative)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:08PM (#32793488)

    Want to try your hand as sysadmin work?

    Work-Needing and Prospective Packages

    http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/ [debian.org]

  • A little browsing on Sourceforge and Savannah should have led you to http://sourceforge.net/people/ [sourceforge.net] and http://savannah.gnu.org/people/ [gnu.org]
  • Join Sahana! (Score:2, Informative)

    by gmiernicki ( 1621899 )
    The Sahana Team would love to have some more hands! http://agasti.sahanafoundation.org/ [sahanafoundation.org]
  • by Digana ( 1018720 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:13PM (#32793534)

    You're a webdev? I know you said you don't want to keep doing that, but what else are you happy doing?

    Right now, GNU Octave is looking to rebrand itself and is starting a website to rival Matlab Central [bitbucket.org]. The The Octave-Forge [sf.net] pages also need help, and a hot new designer star just recently came along who is helping us with logo and brand image design. His name is Fotios Kasolis.

    You could do a lot of good if you got involved with us. Plus, Octave itself is interesting if you're into mathematics and numerical analysis.

  • Now, you sound like a perfect candiate for my project, GPSEE -- http://code.google.com/p/gpsee [google.com].

    We're doing out-of-browser JavaScript (à la CommonJS) and want to move into the web server at some point -- sort of like mod_perl, or maybe mod_php. An experienced PHP coder knows the web-server/CMS/package-system/yadda-yadda-yadda ropes, and you already know the core language -- but you don't have to put up with the DOM... making JavaScript fun again.

    We've got lots of rough edges, a dearth of documentatio

  • Given your skill sets, Drupal may be a good match.

    They've got a huge amount going on for v7. With something of that size, you can find whatever niche is most interesting to you.

    Would you rather find something it ought to do but doesn't yet and build a module?

    Are you more interested in design and want to add themes that let people do things they can't already?

    Do you want to help something existing? They could use help ensuring v5 and v6 modules are ported to v7?

    Are you a good leader? Your local drupal user g

  • TripleA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CBung ( 1572609 )
    Learn some Java and come help TripleA, a wicked Java based strategy game engine. triplea.sf.net
  • The Gimp palatte editor could use a lot of improvements, I have written up some possible feature here [freegamedev.net], that page also contains a few other issues that nag me in other software.

  • No wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @04:33PM (#32793642) Homepage

    Why would there be a "job" listing? There's in general no pay, no benefits. People that don't have any interest in the project as such but just want to tag their CV with it are usually more work than they're worth. Pick whatever open source project which is in a field you're interested in, where there's some itch you'd like to scratch, join the development mailing list and see what you can do. Sometimes there's merely the need to ask, one tool I worked with had a manual "coming soon" so I emailed and asked, spent 2-3 hours compiling one and it's still the one in use today. It's not like it takes interviews and they're afraid of bad "hires", anyone who seems reasonably independent and won't be a drag on everyone else is generally welcomed. Just remember you have a limited amount of handholding and try figuring out stuff on your own before asking about every little thing, you'll do fine.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      Why would there be a "job" listing?

      Finding projects that need help is easy, finding projects that have well organized bite-sized tasks that need to be done however is far from easy. And many feature requests might be buried deep down in the bug tracker, making them hard to find for people who might have interest in working on them.

      Also the asking part can be troublesome, as it might require extra work on the maintainers side. For Pingus [seul.org] for example I have a very simple task that needs to be done, play through all the currently non-GUI access

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Heh, I sense a metajoke coming because I did play through the first island, saw the last update was from 2007 (when I checked) and figured this was another abandoned, half-done OSS project. Not making any promises right now as I'm heading on summer vacation in a week but this autumn I will have to take a look at those other levels I never realized were there... Who'd think I'd find it in a slashdot article about finding an open source "job".

  • OpenHatch [openhatch.org] was mentioned previously, but I'll mention it again for completeness sake. I'm now getting a "500 Internal Server Error from it." (Slashdot effect). Also, there's a list of projects with mentors [teachingopensource.org] on the "Teaching Open Source" wiki. Furthermore, as people noted, most open source projects could use some help and you can approach those that interest you.

    Finally, touting my own horn, I'd like to note that I'm willing to mentor people with their first steps in my own open source projects [shlomifish.org]. Hack on!

  • Recently on slashdot there was a story covring a web site which allowed open source contributors (indviduals) to register their location. You could search locally or view a local map of people interested in contributing to FOSS. Each profile could list those projects to which a person had contributed, or is interested in contributing in the future.

    Does anybody know the name of that site? I wonder if it might be openhatch.org, which currently seems /.-ed, but I don't see mention of a map in descriptions

  • VolunteerMatch (Score:2, Informative)

    by bigjoeb ( 580413 )
    VolunteerMatch is exactly what you describe
  • Seems like these projects are the first to check out. Subscribe to their mailinglist and IRC channels to get a feel for how the projects works and if you feel like it could be fun to be part of said project. This way you will also figure out who the people are to talk to to get your started. Other than that if you have some heros, start following them on twitter. I am sure they will frequently mention interesting OSS projects they are checking out or that they are contributing to. Finally you could cons
  • you can always work for me for free!!! Doesn't it sound great?

  • Looking at your skill set I would recommend e107 CMS at http://www.e107.org/ [e107.org]
  • I did a little volunteer translation work on Ubuntu, and i liked it. I found Ubuntu's system, Launchpad, great for that sort of thing.
    Not only translations, but also bug reports and discussion are well formatted in that system. Which makes it easy if you want
    to contribute to a project. Look up a project you like, browse through the bugreports and contact the maintainer if you want to
    contribute, is my best guess...

    http://lauchpad.net/ [lauchpad.net]

  • Burning Man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bheerssen ( 534014 ) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @05:45PM (#32794028)

    Burning Man is looking for developers to help with their open source projects [burningman.com]. You can't get much cooler than that.

  • I recommend checking out the list of participating organizations in Google's Summer of Code program. http://socghop.appspot.com/gsoc/program/accepted_orgs/google/gsoc2010 [appspot.com] All of the projects are active, legit and looking for new participants.
  • There's something that I think has been overlooked. I'm sure there are hundreds of projects out there which are single developer zones. I know I have four of those at the moment, two of which are on the back burner. The problem with getting involved in these is that there are generally no mailing lists or forums. If you're lucky they are up on sourceforge/freshmeat or similar, but there'll be no public communication cause the dev is flying solo. In this case you might want to search sourceforge for projects

  • If you want a project that would make you popular as hell why don't you code an open source Skype client. Skype have released lots of API info recently and the libs are available for download. The reason why I am saying this would be a good project is because right now the propriety client offered by Skype is to put it mildly "lacking in stability and function". At the moment making a Skype video call under any version of Ubuntu released in the last 2 years is rubbish with the video dropping out all over th
    • by segin ( 883667 )
      Except all the stuff that Skype has released, the libs and APIs, all work through the proprietary client. Using them to make an open-source client only provides a false sense of freedom.
  • by Weezul ( 52464 )

    If you wanted you own project, you might consider developing useful open source stuff for Android or Maemo (Nokia N900).

  • If anyone is interested in elite type games but on planets then you might be interested in helping out on my project.

    I have a list of bit sized bugs here: https://openhatch.org/+projects/Hardwar [openhatch.org]

    ...or you can just come by the forums and say hi. Even some encouragement would be good. http://forum.hardwar.org/ [hardwar.org]

  • I've been looking around for some to help with a private cloud computing platform I've been working on for the past 2 years ever since EMC/VMWare/Cisco's announcement late last fall about beginning a collaboration in the field. The project uses an artificial neural network to adapt nodes to specific roles based on server load (routing/ip-tunneling, database, webserver, processing-grid, etc) and has a currently-not-embedded web-based GUI for the interface. You can find the projects below if interested: ht [novadb.org]
  • SourceForge does have a help wanted page at: http://sourceforge.net/people/ [sourceforge.net]

  • Make video calls work on pidgin/adium.

  • My tip would be WebGUI [webgui.org]. WebGUI has a community that exists for a large part out of companies. And these companies often hire contributors (both full employment and freelance). Also with your html and css experience you could create themes. You can share or even sell them on the Bazaar [webgui.org].

    It is based on Perl in stead of PHP. But if you stay with design you will never see a single line of Perl. And if you rather do some coding, Perl should not be that hard to pick up for someone with PHP experience.

  • Google Code Hosting does the same things as SourceForge.net, just without all the excess crap. I have a project on there, PsyMP3 [google.com], that I wrote in FreeBASIC, a modern, GPL'd BASIC dialect. If you want, give me a hand. I don't obfuscate my email on Slashdot, so you can drop me a line there.
  • Find a project with a bug tracker and start working on things... For example Mediawiki has quite a few open bug reports that you work on.
  • I've been in the same situation as you somewhat. I wanted to help an open source project so as to improve my coding skills, as well as learning how to wrap myself in a big web project.

    Not sure what languages you know, you mention PHP and that is enough. There are plenty of PHP projects that some people vitally depend on, like OScommerce [oscommerce.com]. Lots of things to improve there - the customer form seems non-American (no Zip Code), there are a number of almost necessary add-ons and adding them all on is a tough p

  • Been thinking about it for a while... As I'm not a web developer, I could certainly use some help. You can find my contact on my site (mysettopbox.tv).

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger