Why I keep using unstable software

I've been using RC Linux kernel on my devices for more than a decade. It sounds crazy to my friends and they ask "how do you survive with it?".

I understand that using any uncompleted software is not fun, and it may even make you feel bad if the software is the kernel, but when it comes to the free software, who is going to test them? The only answer is the users themselves, and being a tester is also a kind of important contribution.

It is also beneficial to the users. If the developers got more frequent feedback from the community, the more likely the software will get the bugs fixed and drive to the right direction. I remember when I started using GNU/Linux at the year of 2000, I still need to compile the driver for many mainstream hardware, but now I am not even aware of the driver issues.

Being a good tester requires some skills. There are some hints from me. Hope they helps.

Good manner

The communities work on the software as volunteer. People have their personal tasks to handle, so please be polite and empathetic when you raise a question or report a bug.

Be patient

Some issues are easy to solve, but some may take a long time. I have encountered a display crash issue on an Intel chipset. The ticket had kept open for 2 years and finally got the problem fixed after tons of back-and-forth. The interesting thing is I understand more about how the kernel works with the driver, and how the project handles the driver issues.

Be precise and detailed

People work at different locations and timezones. When you raise an issue, please try your best to provide the details and being precise for more effective communication. Sometimes the developers would ask for more information. Please keep an eye on the ticket and help them addressing the issue. If someone open a ticket with only "The button doesn't work", the chance of being handled would be very low.

Using free software is a culture of give and take. You are not necessary to know anything about coding, but you can still contribute your time, experience and feedback to the community. This is how we grew in the recent decades.