For those outside the open-source world, it often comes as a surprise to find out that it's extraordinarily difficult to become a significant contributor to the Linux kernel or other open-source projects. The reason? Unlike a company where all you need is an employee badge to start contributing to its code, in serious open-source projects you need to demonstrate years of competent coding to even get an invitation to the party.
Linux Torvalds, founder of Linux, walks through the process in a recent interview:
It's definitely not easy to become a 'big contributor.' For one thing, the kernel is quite complex and big, and it inevitably simply takes time to learn all the rules -- not just for the code, but for how the whole development environment works. Similarly, for a new developer, it will take time before people start recognizing the name and start trusting the developer to do the right things....
The worst thing anybody can do is to study the kernel alone and try to learn things in private, and then, however many months later, present all the established kernel developers with a big patch that just comes out of the blue. That's just going to be frustrating for everybody.
And just in case would-be contributors were hoping for an warm, encouraging environment....… Read more