I am a software developer based in India currently. But thanks to open source and version control I can contribute to and work on impact-driven projects I like which are based in the USA, the United Kingdom, and anywhere in the world.
Open source can be defined as a type of software whose source code is available to the public, meaning that anyone can view, modify, and distribute the code.
I have already written an article on open source and how you can get started with contributions, you can check it out here.
Open-source software has revolutionized the way we think about software development and collaboration. It has enabled developers like me from all around the world to collaborate on projects, exchange information and skills, and produce potent tools that anybody can use. However, as with any technology, there are both benefits and drawbacks to using open-source software. In this article, I am going to try to cover the good and the bad about open-source.
The side of Open-source everyone loves and talks about
There are numerous ways in which open-source has been potentially empowering the tech industry. One of the main advantages of open source is that it allows for greater collaboration and sharing of knowledge. This is especially beneficial for students and communities who may not have access to the same resources as larger organizations or universities.
Open source is like a University that has no barrier to entry. A person with zero knowledge can get involved and start to learn and grow along the way.
Learning in public
One of the key ways that open source is helping students is by providing them with access to a wide range of tools and resources that they can use to learn and develop new skills. For instance, there are active developer communities in many open-source projects that are eager to impart their expertise and aid others in learning. The opportunity to learn from seasoned developers and receive feedback on their own projects can be tremendously beneficial for students who are just beginning their careers in software development.
Flexibility and extension of Software
Open source also allows for greater flexibility and innovation. Since the source code is available to anyone, developers can easily modify and customize the software to fit their specific needs. This is especially beneficial for students and communities who may not have the resources to develop their own software from scratch. By using open-source software, they can take advantage of the work that has already been done and build on it to create something new.
Many open-source projects are designed to be modular and extensible, which allows enterprises to easily integrate them into existing systems and workflows.
Open-source profiles are public meaning anyone from a friend to a potential recruiter can view your profile. It is often seen that recruiters look at the GitHub profile.
Your GitHub profile can be used as proof of work and help you build your credibility.
Here is a realistic scenario as to how one can get an opportunity through open source. You find a tech stack that you like working with and start to contribute to good projects and organizations. As you become an active member of an organization and consistently contribute to enhancing the project and uplifting the community by managing it and helping new contributors get started, there is a very good chance that the organization will consider you and reach out to you in case of a suitable opening.
The side of Open-source we don't talk about
It is quite simple for someone to get started with open source but for the wrong reasons, given all the publicity and awareness surrounding it
I see a lot of people who get into open source because of FOMO( Fear Of Missing Out). To artificially inflate the numbers and make their profiles appear good, several people create false commits, pull requests, and repositories. In actuality, though, they are neither learning anything nor adding anything of value.
It is also seen that a lot of people run behind SWAGS. For those who don't know, Swags are freebies that are given to contributors based on sort of participation such as Hacktoberfest or attending meetups.
Meetups and conferences are a way to learn, network and grow. The whole point of them is to find people you can work with, products and projects that interest you and people you can learn from. The point is to collaborate and grow. But I see a lot of people attending meetups after meetups for the sake of it or the swags. People have to ask themselves a simple question, what value are those swags adding to your life? You will find a lot of like-minded individuals that you can collaborate with and upskill when you attend a meetup or conference relevant to the tech stack or development that you are actually interested in and working with. Such is the real value.
Not everyone who gets into open-source can capitalise on possibilities/opportunities and advance in their career. If it was that easy, anybody would do it. Contributing to projects and getting involved in organizations that do not align with your interests is nothing but a serious waste of your time. Contributing to a project because you have seen your friends do it or seems easy is not gonna help you grow.
Everyone praises open source and the potential it may provide, but very few discuss the obstacles along the way and how arduous the journey is becoming every day. Open source is a pool of a never-ending cycle of learning and collaborating. From the long hours it takes to resolve an issue and fix it and then get it reviewed by the maintainers and get it merged to helping the community grow by onboarding new contributors, collaborating with organisations, networking and the constant loop of learning.
Open-source is a personality to develop and not a task to accomplish.
For you to get to any place, The willingness and grit to keep learning and keep growing is key. The more you are hungry for knowledge and adding value, the more things fall in place for you.
The only equation you need to remember :
Skills \= Adding value \= Getting Opportunities.
If the world is full of opportunities then it's common sense that the only thing standing between you and the life you want is your mindset and skillset.
NO ONE can help you if you cannot help Yourself!
To sum it up, Each and everything in this world has its own set of pros and cons. It all comes down to weighing them down and verifying if it is worth it for us. It is a decision that only you can make for yourself. Open-source is a great tool that enhances technology and impacts our life. Get into open source because of your intrinsic interest to add value and grow but not because one influences you.
I have composed an article about different Open source programs. You can check it out here. If you are interested in more technical blogs and discussions, make sure to follow my blog and for short-form content on tech and finance, you can follow my Twitter handle @TRRohit20. Thank you for reading. :)
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