The sacred book of hacking says: "Every coder worth his modules, should have time that is *his* own to spend mashing at the stuff that interests him. That is the only path to true greatness"
There are they who wander in this path, but get sidetracked by the Great Coperate (tm). It is rumoured that some of them have been seen in the dungeons of the Great W$ debugging the Legendary Beast... Ai EE, that accepts malformed HTML, and spits your CSS back in your face. Needless to say, great is their misery.
Consider instead, J. R. Hacker of the Noob, of the order of the Freshman, of the order of the Unemployed. He it is said of, to have followed the path of X. It is said he was visited in a dream by the GNOME, the great protector of Gtk. Weather it be true, we shall never know. But we know it was he who initiated the GNOME Project. Today, he has been granted the venerable post of VP at the Wovell.
Thus spake the great master Google and I listened to his result pages. From them I have found the path to the SourceForge. I have learned to drink from its great repository with the cup of CVS and SVN. Master Google has thought me the rudimentary yet arkane art of building using the secret autotools and raw Makefiles.
I have learned to sit at the feet of other students of Great Master Google who meet at the IRC. Great scholars of the order of the #c, #python, #bash, #linux, #edevelop, #archlinux, and a great many other sects that are more numerous than any one human can possibly know. But the Great Master Google knows them all.
In the hallways of the #c, i have learnt the secret arts of glibc, and devoted myself the the art of libdl. I have learned to grok the PEPs of the Python dot Org to understand what the Masters say in #python. Now i understand the way of the List-Comprehension, and I can swim through any Generator Expression. There is still the secrets of the Meta-Classes and Decorators to be mastered though. But i have found that sitting under the ElementTree, one can feel the Zen of XML.
Finally I also have started my journey thru the desert of OSS. That great Oximorous Multiverse. My sword in hand, is built from Raw Linux found in the KISS valleys of http://www.archlinux.org. I have extended the blade and stuck a custom -mm kernel in the handle. I carry about a small Vim anvil in case i need to craft any C, D, Python, Bash tools. My backpack contains additional PHP and Perl hammers among a lot of other contraptions that master Google has given to me over the years.
My quest I know not where it will lead me, but I am intent on finding that path to true greatness.