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I am a beginning Linux sysadmin and I would like to contribute to open source to obtain new skills and help other people if possible. I found this SF question and googled how to join the CentOS or Snort infrastructure teams with no success. It likes better to be a programmer to contribute to open source.

Could someone help to understand how to start and what should I learn to be involved in a project as sysadmin?

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To those voting to close, in my opinion this is not a duplicate. The question here is, "how do I participate in an opensource project as a sysadmin when I am not also a programmer", which is a refinement of the question @lush linked to in their question. –  sysadmin1138 Jul 24 '11 at 15:13
    
Yes, I think you are right. –  SvW Jul 24 '11 at 15:40
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6 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Programming skills, or at the very least scripting skills, are needed for the most visible of contribute-upstream roles in these projects. A lot of work goes into making things like startup run faster or more efficiently, and that requires no little bash-scripting to make happen.

One area where sysadminly skills do come in handy is in support forums. Get good at these areas and start helping other people. This is contributing to the community, it may not feel like it, but it does make the entire ecosystem nicer to live in.

Another area is to participate in testing development builds. This will require some hardware or at least VM space, but provides very needed feedback to development about what's working, what's not working, and provides you a lot of troubleshooting experience. That kind of troubleshooting is a great way to get to know your project better. Do it long enough and you'll get your skills honed enough to start contributing patches to fix problems, or maybe even pick up a somewhat rare but very useful (to the community) skill like manual RPM packaging.

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thank you for your answer and protection regarding the votes, in fact this forum helps people much to solve different kind of issues and I hope that one day I will be providing some useful help either! –  Andrew Jul 26 '11 at 8:25
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You can also help some OS projects by throwing in server resources. There are tons of projects that don't have access to a build server, CI server, testing server, etc. You don't necessarily have to become a webhost, just provide even one of those and the people behind the project will love you.

To find projects that need this, perhaps you could start by looking at the programs that you use that are open source. Approach them and see if they are interested. You can also do some searching or ask around, I know that the Drupal project might be able to use another testing server.

To actually run the server the project needs, find an underutilized VM server and put it there, being sure to provision it so that it doesn't kill the other functions of the VM server.

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thanks I have many available web servers for testing) –  Andrew Jul 26 '11 at 9:45
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These are all great perspectives on what type of contribution you can have as a sysadmin. A good first step to finding an open source project to get involved and contribute to is sourceforge.com. Its one of the more popular communities for this.

I also recommend github.com, it's much newer but has some very innovative and active projects on it, and is geared towards connecting people involved with programming open source.

Of course there are many others, but these are great for getting your feet wet.

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You can volunteer as a tester and documenter. You'll need sysadmin skills to set up testing (and you'll probably learn scripting). A sysadmin viewpoint can be very helpful in writing documentation for system utilities, services, and applications.

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Here is how you can contribute as a sysadmin to GNOME.

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You can to track to various packages of your favorite distro (or a BSD) and review the security updates from the upstream. Send bug reports for packages with vulnerabilities and test the side effects of this in the other packages of system.

Use a virtual machine for all testing or you will break your system :)

Learn how make packages and the philosophy of the project. You will need show your value for the other members of the projects (for months or years). Also learn shell script for automating your work.

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