Ask not what open source can do for you this Christmas

Whether you define it as a business model, a development model, or just a good idea, open source has always depended on the good faith contributions of individuals for its success.

Ask not what open source can do for you. Ask what you can do for open source.

This mangling of John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural quote is brought to you with some serious intent.

Open source needs your help. Whether you define it as a business model, a development model, or just a good idea, open source has always depended on the good faith contributions of individuals for its success.

Is it communist, socialist, or fascist to join together and cooperate in order to build something new and valuable? I don't know.

But a citizen whose nation honors its pilgrim fathers and Founders who pledged to one another their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" has no reason to question it.

Linux PR expert Kim Terca gets credit for these ideas:

  1. Join the Linux Foundation. There's a new buy one, get one promotion on their site that can give you and a student discounts on books and other benefits for the cost of a single  Cirque du Soleil ticket.
  2. Ubuntu swag makes a great stocking stuffer, and if a black friend asks what it means you have a conversation starter.
  3. Make a donation to the open source project of your choice. There are thousands at Sourceforge. Or go the "Hershey bars for kids in Beverly Hills" route and give it to Codeplex. (That's a joke. Codeplex isn't rich. But maybe Sam Ramji would like a Hershey bar.)
  4. Support a developer's travels. The Linux Foundation has an app for that.

One thing I'm definitely going to do. Throw some coin at the Wikipedia Foundation. Whatever you think of their policies, they have delivered stable links on millions of topics, improving the Web experience for everyone.

Oh, and if you're at all offended by the Kennedy reference above, remember that open source is not a government movement. So if you believe government is the problem, it's a good place to stash some cash away from its greedy hands.

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