Open Source Lent

March 11, 2011

I’ve found that most casually religious people I know who grew up with a religion in their family, usually pay attention to at least one holiday or religious rule.  I have Jewish friends who will do nothing except try their best to not eat bread on Passover, or won’t do any work for one Sabbath a year (i.e. turn on a light).  I’m a textbook Cafeteria Catholic who happens to pay close attention to Lent. 

I use the holiday to try to better myself and show that I can give something up for 40 days.  In the past I’ve given up: meat, coffee, cookies, sugar, French fries (I LOVE French fries), beer, and a few other things.  I look at it as an excuse to try something different – I may not be a vegetarian, but I have a taste of what it’s like (no pun intended).  I would argue that Odysseus did the same thing when he ordered his crew to plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast of his ship, so that he could hear the songs of the Sirens as they sailed by.

A few years ago, a friend of mine (Nicole) suggested that I could give something away instead of giving something up.  I thought this was a brilliant idea, so that year I donated something to charity/goodwill for every day of lent.  It started with a couple things I had lying around the house, and eventually I was de-cluttering my home of stuff I had stored away for years.  I was amazed how positive it was: I was refocusing what many people feel as an internal religious experience into an external one.

I struggled quite a bit with what I wanted to do this year, and decided I wanted to help the industry I’m involved in.  I will be donating to a free or open source project for every day of lent.  I use quite a bit of open source tools every day, and I’m admittedly too lazy to bother to donate.  The truth is, I would probably buy an app on my iPhone without even thinking about it, but some of these developers of open source projects would love $3 dollars.  Even if it only buys a beer, at least they get some recognition for their time.

I also thought it would be a cool way of promoting certain tools I use every day.  I’m always curious as to the tools other people use for certain tasks, so maybe my list will help someone else find the tool they have always been searching for.  I plan to post each donation on twitter (   I don’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, but it makes a nice way to keep an active list.

I already have a list of ideas, but not quite 40 of them.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!


Here are the projects I donated to for Lent in 2011. 

3/09/2011 Launchy 
3/10/2011 ssms tools pack
3/11/2011 TWiT Leo Laporte
3/12/2011 TortoiseSVN
3/13/2011 NUnit
3/14/2011 Notepad++
3/15/2011 irfanview
3/16/2011 AstroGrep
3/17/2011 Mantis
3/18/2011 Angry IP Scanner
3/19/2011 Subversion (Apache foundation)
3/20/2011 Wikipedia
3/21/2011 FileZilla
3/22/2011 Firefox
3/23/2011 PDF Creator
3/24/2011 Gimp for Windows (
3/26/2011 VLCQui
3/27/2011 Audacity
3/28/2011 FSF
3/29/2011 jQuery 
3/30/2011 sharpdevelop 
3/31/2011 Eclipse
4/01/2011 dosbox 
4/02/2011 thunderbird
4/03/2011 apache http server
4/04/2011 python
4/05/2011 EFF
4/06/2011 Creative Commons
4/07/2011 lightbox
4/08/2011 Eraser
4/09/2011 TuxPaint
4/10/2011 LibreOffice
4/11/2011 OpenStreetMap
4/12/2011 aspell
4/13/2011 GTK+
4/14/2011 Spybot - Search & Destroy
4/15/2011 Truecrypt
4/16/2011 VirtualDub
4/17/2011 Rockbox
4/19/2011 WinDirStat
4/20/2011 Project Gutenberg
4/21/2011 Greenshot
4/22/2011 gnucash
4/23/2011 Cinemetropolis by the Blue Scholars
4/24/2011 (Easter!) Twuffer

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