Who wouldn’t want to be a Linux kernel developer? Kernel developers work at the heart of the Linux operating system and contribute and work on code that runs the world's technology infrastructure.
The work is so rewarding it attracts contributions from thousands of developers each year who make up the thriving community.
But as Linus Torvalds himself reminded us during the Linux Kernel Panel discussion  at LinuxCon this summer, being a kernel developer is not the only way to be an important part of the Linux and open source communities. In fact, developers can often have a large impact on a project with 10 or 15 developers.
“There are tons of really worthy open source projects that need help,” Torvalds said to a roomful of Linux professionals.
Each of the kernel developers on the panel gave a different pitch for following in his or her footsteps. But they also recognize there are many open source projects that need help and ultimately help Linux, too.
Sarah Sharp  became a kernel developer because she likes tinkering at the intersection of software and hardware and says the community is fun to work with. Greg Kroah-Hartman said kernel developers get to see the world attending Linux conferences. And Ted T’so advised: “You should become a kernel developer if it’s fun. It’s been a blast for me.”
But with all the worthy projects out there, how do you pick one? We followed up with Greg KH after the panel for some recommendations. Here is his list of five open source projects you could work on:
- X.org develops the X window system software, a framework for building GUI environments, and is one of the oldest open source software projects out there. A great way for anyone to get started is by applying for the project’s mentorship program, Endless Vacation of Code .
- LibreOffice  is an open source alternative to Microsoft Windows software. “They have a handy "tasks for newcomers list," says Greg KH.
- GNOME  is a popular Linux desktop environment. The project is looking for contributors with many different skill types, not just developers.
- KDE  develops workspace applications and provides an application development platform. “They can always use the help, especially for the core bits,” says Greg KH.
- “Pick-your-favorite-application, they can all use the help,” Greg KH said, “especially from users who know how the programs work.”
What other projects do you think are great for newcomers, or those looking for a new challenge, to get involved in? Tell us in the comments, below. Thanks!
Libby Clark