In the corporate proprietary world the development of software is restricted to the four walls of the the company/organization responsible. Here it is the organization that determines what is included or removed from the software. But in the Free and Open source software (FOSS) world it is tied to the community.
The FOSS community comprise of thousands of persons (usually unpaid volunteers) scattered all over the world. They are the users of software and they determine what is added or removed from the software. In fact this is the essence of the FOSS movement – the situation where the users of a particular software is granted the right to modify the software as he/she sees fit. Over the years the FOSS community have been very helpful in driving the innovation and rapid development of many large scale open source projects – Ubuntu, Openstack, Hadoop among many others.
The strength of the community come its diversity of members. It can range from expert/professional software developers to “ordinary” software users. This is because of the idea that every user of FOSS something to bring to the table which could be in one form or the other. So irrespective of this diversity every member of the community is relevant. Even though the majority of the community is made of software developers or programmers not everybody can contribute code. Some can help in designing graphics (banners, logos, animations, videos, wallpapers, themes, icons etc), or documentation (user guide or manuals), while still others can report bugs or suggest a new feature that can be added to the software.
The FOSS community transcend the mere creation of software, it provides an avenue for people to work together and share ideas in an effort to build better systems – even outside software development. Daily the FOSS community is growing and more people are coming to embrace and use open source softwares. But there is is still a long way to go and a lot to be done. Why not look out for a way to be apart of this community.