Unrestricted Fun: Open Source Weekend Projects

How to pick a project for an open source weekend

Getting caught up in an open source weekend project can teach you a lot, without even tipping you off to the fact that you’re learning something. That’s because the projects listed in this article are first and foremost fun. Whether it’s designing a WordPress theme, doing a hackathon, cooking some delicious recipes, or searching around for user-replaceable parts for your Raspberry Pi garage door opener, taking on an open source project can be a rewarding activity.

Open Source Weekend Starts Here

It’s always best to start planning an open source weekend project at the beginning of the week. There are a few things you might to get in advance. You may need to order some supplies, or just give yourself enough time to pick a domain name and order some hosting. The more planning the better.

During this preparatory phase, it’s also a good time to read up on why we’re using open source software instead of proprietary software.

Based Cooking

As I mentioned in a previous article, Based Cooking is a recipe website with a minimal coding style, and no ads. So if you happen to be someone who is passionate about open source projects, and you don’t know how to code, you can contribute recipes to Based Cooking, and at the same time learn about how GitHub pull requests work.

All submissions are made through the GitHub repository and are written in the markdown format. Follow along with the example, and submit your recipe today, and pick out something to cook for your open source weekend.

Or, think about it a different way, you can fork your own Based Cooking style website to host your own recipes on your own cloud VPS.


As you’re just starting out, there’s a great opportunity always waiting for you in WordPress. Even if you don’t know how to code in PHP, you can always help out with WordPress marketing and documentation.

But if you do know how to code in PHP (and you have a solid working knowledge of the other web languages) you can start building your own plugins and themes. Depending on what the goal is, you can probably build a plugin over your open source weekend and call it a hackathon. If your work is helpful to someone, you can consider submitting it to the WordPress repositories so that others can find it.

Arduino And IoT

There are hundreds of projects you could tackle with the popular Arduino microprocessors. If you just do a search for these projects you will inundated with thousands of results. And there are, of course, YouTube videos you can follow along with. And while you’re having fun working on projects, you’re learning about electronics. While many of these projects are safe enough for children to complete, adult supervision is definitely required whenever electricity is being used.

Arduino projects fall under the category of the “Internet of things” (IoT). The idea behind the IoT is that now you have these tiny microprocessors you can program yourself, and they can connect or interface with other devices over whatever protocol you specify (or you could even write your own protocol) and allow for asynchronous or event-driven communications with virtually unlimited devices.

You can easily and cheaply purchase all sorts of sensors that interface with arduino. Temperature sensors can trigger fans. A moisture sensor can trigger a dehumidifier. These are just a few examples. And of course you’re not limited to sensors. Your arduino can pick up signals from weather APIs and let you know if you should water your garden today or if it’s going to rain.

Raspberry Pi Projects

The Raspberry Pi is a complete computer, but it’s about the size of a credit card — and now smaller, depending on which model you buy. And they’re pretty inexpensive. But why have a little computer? The Pi is the ideal open source beginner (or advanced) tool. You can install a full web server on a Pi. You could also install a media center operating system that can play YouTube videos, music, slideshows, and much more. You could create an arcade cabinet for playing vintage video games. You can link your Arduino project with a Pi and do all sorts of fast and dangerous things. There are plenty of websites and YouTube channels dedicated to Pi projects. Pick one out and enjoy your open source weekend project.

Design Your Own Website

Here’s one InMotion Hosting specializes in, our WordPress hosting packages are optimized to provide a fast user experience on the front (and back) end — and without taking a toll on your budget.

One of the easiest ways to get started with open source products is to create your own website. There’s no limit to the kinds of websites you could create. But here are a few popular options that never go out of style.


two still do not exist in the same universe. Social media is proprietary, and you don’t have the same control over your content or how it’s presented to the public. A blog gives you all the control you would ever need to share content in the fashion of your choosing. (And you can easily spend a few minutes on your open source weekend learning how to manage a blog.)

Also, blogging is important for business now. Many companies of all shapes and size share content through a blog. In addition to being a great way to quickly reach people, a blog can lend a hand in developing a marketing strategy. Search engine optimization alone justifies the time and effort necessary to start a blog. And then there are plenty of other engagement strategies that a blog can help facilitate. For example, blog posts can push traffic to your landing pages if your goal is to get email subscriptions, encourage a sale, or complete another kind of conversion.


Internet bulletin boards are still very popular. But you can easily spend your whole open source weekend just reading forums, so why not create one? You’ve probably noticed forum topics still rank in position 1 on Google searches. This is because forums generate their own content. Or, more specifically, the users of that forum generate the content. If your forum is popular you’ll notice that the topics will take off and quickly fill up with information that search engines love to digest. And one of the most popular forum management systems (PhpBB) is available to install as a one-click script in your hosting plan. Just choose where you want to install it, and you can start enjoying your forum. There’s always a forum plugin available for WordPress called BBPress.

Create Your Own Social Media Network

No joke here. You can actually use your open source weekend to create your own social media website with WordPress. (We talk a lot about WordPress, because there’s a lot you can do with it.) There are some new projects out there, which are open source, that give you all the tools you need to create a social media site. A popular choice, Mastodon, gives you a private social media site for your use, but it requires some expert level sysadmin work to get it installed. You could handle it, but if you’re in the mood to get something up quick, or if you already have a WordPress site, and you just want to add social media to it, there’s a plugin for that.

The BuddyPress plugin brings social media features into your existing WordPress site. For example, you can send friend requests, private messages, and observe activity streams. Just about any major feature you expect from a social network is available in BuddyPress, and more features are being added all the time.

Even if you don’t want your social media network to be available to the public, with WordPress it’s easy to host the site on a private internal network for your company. It’s an easy and cheap way to have high quality internal communication.

And of course, if you’re having any trouble getting started with a hosting package, feel free to contact 24/7 support anytime.

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