GNU needs you: How to contribute to a GNU project
The GNU Project, announced by FSF founder and president Richard Stallman in 1983, began with the goal to enable users to do all of their computing with 100% free software. While we now have a fully functioning GNU operating system, there are countless improvements to be made, new programs to be designed, more platforms to be supported, and other tasks to keep GNU running and spread the word. That's why GNU needs YOU! The full list of ways to help GNU is at gnu.org/help, but hopefully this summary will get you started thinking where you might fit in.
If you already have written useful software that you would like to submit as a GNU package, there's a submission process in place at gnu.org/help/evaluation.html. If you're willing to adhere to the GNU Project's mission for software freedom, you can join 404 other GNU supporters as a GNU maintainer.
If you're looking for a new project, the most urgent items are on the FSF's High Priority Projects page, handpicked by a committee of free software experts informed by feedback from the public as the projects of greatest strategic importance. Not all of these projects are part of GNU -- for example, the Replicant free phone operating system needs supporters to contribute on their forums and wiki, and to submit bugs. But many are, like user-testing for or contributing to the Skype replacement GNU Ring. Choose the project that best fits your interests and expertise, and get started!
Another crucial subsection of the GNU Project that could use your help is accessibility. Like all computer users, people with a range of hearing, sight, movement, and cognitive abilities deserve control over their technology, but few programs and Web sites comply with accessibility standards. Furthermore, proprietary programs keep everyone from altering them to suit their needs, and companies only add accessibility features when there's a business reason for doing so, leaving many users behind. Learn more at gnu.org/accessibility.
Technologically adept GNU fans can contribute in many other ways, including:
- Writing free manuals and documentation for GNU software;
- Taking over an unmaintained GNU package;
- Contributing to h-node.org, a repository that contains information on how particular hardware does or doesn't work with free software;
- Volunteering as a technical system administrator for Savannah, which hosts free software projects;
- Volunteering as a GNU Webmaster; and more.
If you're not a techie, we can still use your help! We are constantly in need of translators for the GNU Web site -- if you're fluent in English and another language, email email@example.com to get started on a translation team. You can also simply spread awareness: subscribe to the monthly Free Software Supporter, spread the word far and wide, and use as much free software as you can every day.
GNU's thirty-plus years of success have been driven by individuals joining together to make a difference. We hope you'll join us!