5 open source projects to join in 2015

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You've been using open source software for a while, and now you want to give back to the community. Even with solid advice, you're probably finding that it's difficult to sift through all of the projects out there to find one that's right for you.

To help, I've put together a list of five open source projects that you should consider joining in 2015. Many of them may not be the highest profile projects out there, but they do offer some interesting challenges. And helping them is a great way to give back to the community.

Ready? Let's jump in!


If 3D modelling interests you, then BRL-CAD is just the ticket. It's a powerful and flexible system that can present an unique challenge to coders, testers, and even trainers and UI designers.

There are numerous tasks that you can tackle which, according to the project team, "range from the very hard and math intense to tedious and VERY easy." You can pick some low-hanging tasks that will take a few hours complete, or aim higher and attack some of the major project ideas. If you're a programmer, you can help clean up the code.

You can learn more about getting involved by reading the Contributors' Guide to BRL-CAD.

Speed Dreams

Have a need for speed? Love gaming? Speed Dreams could be the project you're looking to join. It's a 3D motorsport simulation and racing game that runs on Windows and Linux, with a Mac OS version about 95% complete.

How can you contribute? The project is looking for developers, designers, and people to write documentation. If you're a gamer, getting on board with Speed Dreams could be a great way of both combining your passions for gaming and open source.


It's not often that you can work on a software project that actually helps people. OpenMRS is one of those projects. It's platform that helps doctors and health care programs manage patient records.

The project is looking for contributors of all stripes: coders, testers, IT support, technical writers, UI designers, and translators. To get started, you can join the OpenMRS community and discuss ideas, suggest new features and bug fixes, or promote the project.


Audacity, the popular sound recording and editing software, doesn't need much introduction. It's been around since May 2000 and is still growing and improving. And it continues to gain users.

Like many open source projects, Audacity is looking for a range of contributors. Not just developers and testers, but also people to write documentation and to translate the software, the Audacity website, and the program's documentation into various languages. You can also help out by reporting bugs and requesting features.

FLOSS Manuals

You're not a coder. You're not a designer or a tester. But you can write. In that case, you'll want to check out FLOSS Manuals. The project is "more than a collection of manuals about free and open source software, it is also the community." An active community, at that.

The great thing about FLOSS Manuals is that you don't have to jump in and write a manual from scratch. You can help update existing books or just fix typos and errors. You can also edit and proofread books, or help promote the project. You can learn more about getting involved here.

If these projects don't appeal to you

There's a chance they won't, and if that's the case, then check out OpenHatch or Open Hub which help you track, compare, and choose open source projects to join.

Tell us: Do you have a favorite open source project that you think people should join in 2015?

That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts.


These are great Scott. I shared FLOSS already with many #edtech people I follow on Twitter. Thanks for a new direction.

Don, there are just so many great (and even very good) projects out there that it was hard to choose just five. But I'm glad one of them piqued your interest.

In reply to by Don Watkins

Great suggestions, Scott. I really need to find the time to contribute to FLOSS manuals.

With the recent changes in the Fedora project (i.e. Workstation, Server, and Cloud variants), now is a great time to get involved and take an active role in shaping Fedora's future. Fedora 21 is already a very polished distro, but there is always more work to be done.

Great list to start with for whoever is looking out for open source contribution. You have picked each from various streams which makes it easy for people with varied interests. Thanks for sharing this!!!

How do we get our project on this list?
Like you say, there are so many great projects out there that need support and a strong community of contributors. We have battled with finding the right communities to reach out to for development support, making our progress much slower than we want, or our users need.
Can you recommend forums or sites that we can share our project on (other than GitHub) to help get more participation?

What a great article! After so many years of using and promoting open source software, I've decided to make this the year I get more involved and chip in - thanks for providing more inspiration (and a roadmap).

This year I will be teaching or leading is more accurate an UGrad and introducing them to open source. I plan to pick one of these projects and get then involved!

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