How I became a Firefox contributor

December 2009. I’ve been a freelancer for quite some time now and decided to dedicate some weeks to something that always fascinated me: contributing to a big open source project. I started some smaller open source projects in the past (like Video4Linux.Net and ViGedit+) and contributed every so often to Gentoo and the Linux kernel. I’ve always been a great fan of the open source movement and I felt that it’s time to give back some love.

I made a list of all the things that interested me and that I could possibly contribute to. Besides having things like Linux, ReactOS and Wine on the list I picked “Firefox” because it simply has been a loyal companion for years. I think I’ve used it first in version 1.5 and it was one of the most valuable tools that helped me to earn money, get my everyday work done and the most trivial: just browse and experience the web.

Some weeks before that I switched to Firefox 4.0 beta3/4 because that included the first version of Panorama (Tab Groups / TabCandy) that worked on Linux. I loved this feature but noticed that it was in an early stage and needed some fixes. I set up a Firefox build environment, went through Bugzilla to find open bugs, nagged people on IRC and was totally overwhelmed by the warm welcome and the appreciation of my work. This was something I did not at all experience when trying to contribute to other open source projects. Finally, the Panorama team and me managed to get this feature into shape and land it in Firefox 4, yay!

Long story short, I’m now a full-time contributor and love what I’m doing.