10 open source career lessons from 2021

Whether you're looking for a great open source note-taking app or want inspiration for non-coding roles in tech, Opensource.com's authors covered it all.
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The ongoing pandemic kept 2021 far from normal, yet there were glimmers of hope through the uncertainty. In-person conferences slowly resumed, if smaller and with more masks than in years past. And the asynchronous essence of open source allowed many people to keep working on passion projects while growing their careers.

Accordingly, readers loved the past year's posts on all things work and career. Below, we've shared 10 of our most popular articles on these subjects in 2021. Whether you're looking for a great open source note-taking app or want inspiration for non-coding roles in tech, Opensource.com's authors covered it all.

3 open source tools that make Linux the ideal workstation

Is there anything Linux can't do? Seth Kenlon doesn't think so. In our most popular career article this year, Seth shares three office applications that run on Linux.

From macro support on LibreOffice to the spreadsheets in Gnumeric, open source enthusiasts looking for new tools can look outside the box. Many options in this article are minimalist, and Seth says that's a good thing. Big office suites can't solve every problem. Stepping back to consider your true needs and finding tools that meet them is the best choice.

Use Joplin to find your notes faster

No one beats Kevin Sonney when it comes to productivity tips. His annual productivity series had a twist in 2021: Instead of covering specific apps, Sonney shared strategies and all-in-one solutions to help open sourcers work smarter.

A digital notes enthusiast, Kevin uses this piece to share why he chose Joplin to keep them all organized. Its search functionality, ability to sync between devices, and use of Markdown are just a few reasons why this note-taking app rules them all.

5 open source alternatives to Zoom

Zoom fatigue reached new heights in open source this year: Seth Kenlon's article on open source Zoom alternatives was a 2021 favorite across several categories.

Kenlon wrote this piece after attending a conference run on open source video conferencing software. If you want to use something other than Zoom, you have options. There's an open source tool for every unique need, from familiar favorites like Signal's group video call feature to solutions for classroom and conference presentations like BigBlueButton.

Open source tools and tips for staying focused

Kevin Sonney's 2021 productivity series hit a pain point with readers. His tips to stay focused using open source tools caught the eyes of open sourcers who (like me) struggled to keep our attention on the tasks at hand this year.

This piece highlights Mater, a taskbar app that lets users set 25-minute timers before taking a break. It's an open source take on the Pomodoro Technique that helps users do deep work before taking strategic breaks. Kevin finds that using Mater for productivity sprints, combined with a buddy, helps keep him accountable. That's a lesson we can all take into 2022.

My open source internship during a pandemic

Nearly two years into the pandemic, many people have started new jobs and internships remotely. In May 2020, Gerrod Ubben found his junior year of college cut short and learned that his summer internship at Red Hat would happen remotely. This piece shares his experience on Red Hat's Pulp team.

Gerrod did a lot of work updating Pulp's Python plugin, thanks to mentorship from several Red Hat engineers. He also worked with the Bandersnatch community to broaden their code so the Bandersnatch API could mirror Python content from sources including Pulp. If you've doubted what fully remote interns can do, this piece will put those doubts to rest.

4 tech jobs for people who don't code

Nithya Ruff is one of my open source heroes because she advocates for diverse contributions to open source beyond code. As a career techie who has always held non-coding roles, Dawn Parzych's piece highlighting four of these positions struck a familiar chord.

Whether you have a talent for technical writing or a desire to do data analysis, each of the four roles highlighted here brings its own value to tech. Lest you fear that all of them are too far from the code, developer relations made the list. This fairly new discipline puts developer needs first, and while coding isn't required for all roles, it's a huge plus.

16 efficient breakfasts of open source technologists from around the world

What's your favorite meal to start the day? That's what Jen Wike Huger asked us Opensource.com writers this past spring. The answers were diverse like we are, often reflecting where we live around the world.

From bacon, egg, and cheese bagels in New York City to copious cups of tea in England, 16 of us shared what we eat to start our days off right. I'm still trying to convince myself that coffee in itself is not a meal, but that's another article.

My open source disaster recovery strategy for the home office

What's the worst that could happen? In Howard Fosdick's case, it's the risk that a home-based device might fail for remote employees. This article walks readers through solutions should the worst happen to you.

Howard is upfront that his strategies (which include defining high availability and confirming allowable downtime) might not work in all scenarios. Still, the tips he offers are customizable. The critical takeaway is to plan ahead. That way, if the worst happens, you've got a plan to tackle the challenge.

3 wishes for open source productivity in 2021

January 31, 2021, feels like a lifetime ago. That's when Kevin Sonney shared some hopes he had for productivity in open source this year.

To conclude his series on productivity, Kevin said he wanted open sourcers to be more mindful and inclusive. This includes a call to disconnect by turning off devices when we're not working. For my part, I tried to do this by keeping my phone in "Do Not Disturb" mode in another room during heads-down work. How did you stay productive this year?

15 unusual paths to tech

Is tech your second career? It is for many Opensource.com writers, as we learned when Jen Wike Huger asked which roles we held before taking the techie path. Janitor, papermaker, map editor, and musician are just a few past lives that came up.

The complete list is a fascinating read that confirms why open source is so special: Done well, it unites folks with diverse skillsets and experiences to build something great. It also confirms that it's never too late—and you're never too "out of place"— to jump into open source.

Photograph of Lauren, a white woman with long brown hair, standing in front of a tree wearing a grey coat.
Lauren Maffeo has reported on and worked within the global technology sector. She started her career as a freelance journalist covering tech trends for The Guardian and The Next Web from London. Today, she works as a service designer for Steampunk, a human-centered design firm building civic tech solutions for government agencies.

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