There are two things that tend to happen at the end of the year: Predictions about what the new year will hold that never come true, and new years resolutions that last until Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday. I'm not going to spend time on the first (at least this year), and I'm not going to be so lame and predictable as to call this a resolution so I avoid the curse of the second. That said, though, I am going to do something for the new year, and ask others to join me.
Announcing the Open Source Project of the Month!
We all benefit from Open Source and/or Free Software. Everyone. Even if you're reading this blog from Internet Explorer on a Windows XP box, you benefit in some way from Open Source. There's probably at least one open source program that you use on a regular basis on your system, and if not then somewhere down the line your ISP, your coworker, or some other point in the process is relying on open source. (If you're viewing this page, then you're using on open source because the server it's on is FreeBSD and Apache.)
A lot of open source software is written by or sponsored by large corporations or foundations. Linux itself is written mostly by employees of Red Hat, IBM, and OSDL these days. Apache has its own foundation. OpenOffice.org is a product of Sun. But a lot of it, I dare say the vast majority, is written by either volunteers or consultants (or sometimes volunteer consultants). Even the big projects have community volunteers, largely unsung outside of their own little circles.
While many would argue that fame is more important than money to open source volunteers, I've yet to meet one that didn't like money as well as fame. Really, who wouldn't? The goal of Project of the Month is to provide a little of each to open source developers, whether they're already getting revenue from their work or not. The vast majority of open source code is also free-as-in-beer, and while I won't say that anything is "owed" to those developers (they do, after all, release their code free-as-in-beer by choice), it's still polite to acknowledge their work.
So here's how it works. Create a new tag on your blog for "Project of the Month" or "POTM" or whatever. Then, once a month, find some open source project that you benefit from. It could be something you've used for a long time or something you just found. Most such projects have a "tip jar" of some sort. Send in $25 USD. Then, blog about the project, talking about why it's cool and giving the project and its author some free publicity, and tag it. All entries will be aggregated at http://www.garfieldtech.com/potm for anyone to easily read and subscribe to.
That's it. Nice and simple, and gives the project author some money and some recognition. But why $25? It's half the price of most commercial software, so you still save money, but it's also enough that the project author can appreciate it.
What do you get out of it? Well there's that warm and fuzzy feeling of supporting a worthwhile cause, of course. There's also free publicity for your own blog. You may also learn about some great new project that will save you time and/or money in the future.
What qualifies as a legit project, though? I'm really not going to be a stickler here, but here's some guidelines:
I will be the first participant, and the POTM project will run throughout 2007. Please consider joining! If you want to take part, post a reply here with the URL of your RSS feed, trackback to this entry, or contact me directly. I'll get you added, and then you can start posting. Expect a first entry from me in early January.
And thank you to all the Open Source and/or Free Software developers out there that continue to make the computing world a better place!