I've been struggling to develop momentum contributing to open source projects. I have in the past tried with gcc and contributed a fix to libstdc++ but it was a once off and even though I spent months in my spare time on the dev mailing list and reading through things I just never seemed to develop any momentum with the code. Eventually I unsubscribed and got my free time back and uncluttered my mailbox. Like a lot of people I have some little open source defunct projects lying around on the net, but they're not large and I'm the only contributor. At the moment I'm more interested in contributing to a large open source project and want to know how people got started because I find it difficult while working full time to develop any momentum with the code base. Other more regular contributors, who are on the project full-time, are able to make changes at will and as result enter that positive feedback cycle where they understand the code and also know where it's heading. It makes the barrier to entry higher for those that come along later.
My questions are to people who actively contribute to large opensource projects, like the Linux kernel, or gcc or clang/llvm or anything else with say a developer head count of more than 10.
- How did you get started? Was there a large chunk of time in your life that you just could dedicate to working on the project? I know in Linus's case he had a chunk of time (6 months) to get it started.
- What barriers to entry did you encounter?
- Can you describe the initial stages of the time spent with the project, from when you had little understanding of the code to when you understood enough to commit regularly.