Linus Torvalds in 2004 on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML):
To me, the biggest thing with small patches is not necessarily the patch
itself. I think that much more important than the patch is the fact that
people get used to the notion that they can change the kernel – not just
on an intellectual level (“I understand that the GPL means that I have the
right to change my kernel”), but on a more practical level (“Hey, I did
that small change”).
Over the years I’ve been asked many times “how can I get into programming?” and my answer has always been to contribute to some open source code. The benefits are manifold.
- Sense of accomplishment (like Linus brought out)
- Exposure to someone else’s code (you can learn a lot this way)
- Helps you get comfortable with criticism (esp. if the codebase is managed by several people)
- Learn to collaborate (have a team before you have a team)
- Give yourself some publicity (the number 1 way to get work is to show your work)
So, get in there and get started.