3D printing as a new FOSS contribution (for the sake of your lounge)

Free and Open Source Softwares allow anyone to get involved into the improvement of a project. Anyone who wants to give a hand can join the community. In this context, when someone participates, it's called a contribution.

Contributions can be something technical like writing codes, adding tests or doing code reviews. But it does not require technical abilities all the time: reporting a bug, publishing a tutorial or evangelizing are valid contributions too (see here 14 ways to contribute without technical skills).

I won't go deeper in the description of a contribution. Today, I would like to focus on a new way of contributing to FOSS projects: building a 3D-printed case.

Sounds intriguing? Let me first introduce you to a new trend called self-hosting. It's the practice of running one's web softwares on a server (a machine) you own. Most people who does self-hosting keep their machines at home. And the main reasons for that are to keep ownership of data stored via the web apps, to have the capability to tinker with personal softwares and have better connectivity speed.

Self-hosting adoption increased with the arrival of low-cost microboard. For $30, you can have an energy efficient computer running 24h a day. It allows you to run your web app and the storage of the app itself from home. What it means is that you can now do self-hosting without spending a lot of money. That's super cool but unfortunately, these boards often comes naked or with bland / generic outershell. Having a chunk of electronic piece in your tastefully designed lounge is probably not the sexiest thing you could imagine.

As you can guess, communities from the most popular self-hosting softwares, were not satisfied with that. So, they decided to make their own cases! It's something that 3D printing enables. So users from the most popular platform like Kodi, Owncloud or Cozy built and share plans to print 3D boxes that suits perfectly with their favorite micro-boards.

Kodi Case Kodi Box: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:936534

Owncloud Case Owncloud Box: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:869077

Cozy Case Cozy Box: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1368106

This is probably the tip of the iceberg. I can't imagine what will be invented soon. Whatever, that is great news for the self-hosting trend: No more shame in showing your home servers!