What things do you do to lower the barrier to beginning new projects? How long does it take to get into something new from when the idea hits to when you start making enough code to play with? In general, I'm referring to toy projects, but the concept still stands for more substantial FOSS projects upon which work is desired to be done.
For example, I would like to stop being afraid of image file formats, and to that end I'd like to be able to create an app that leverages OpenGL for viewing arbitrary image formats. Or, I'd like to explore how to handle very large image files. Maybe these kinds of projects are not casual enough for me to dive into and out of.
Other examples are things like, wow this FOSS program is great! But I'd like to fix some functionality. Oh look, if I'm going to build this on windows I have to find these million dependencies and compile them myself. Or, dang, this code is written in python. Oh wait, 2.6, now I need to make sure I install that version as well, and remember which version I'm writing for.
Do you find it more conducive to work in linux? Is the idea of a casual programming endeavor just a myth? In what ways have you lowered your barrier to getting started?