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technology, education, other sundries

Why I Use Linux and other Free Open-Source Software

Technology 100DaysToOffload

Yes, yes, GNU/Linux. We know…

I don’t program. I don’t “hack” or “crack”. I don’t administer a network. I am not a “power-user”. I am a professor. How did I end up with Linux as my main desktop OS?

Well, it is a short story. It goes like this.

Once upon a time, I was a perfectly content Windows user without a care in the world. My job only required a minimal set of IT tools that could all be acquired for free, like OpenOffice.org and Audacity. I had seen Linux in use (Slack) and recognized that it could replace Windows if I ever needed it.

One fine day I was going about my work and experienced the infamous BSOD. Not once, not twice, but three times on the same day. The problem was related to an update. I reinstalled Windows twice that day and as soon as Windows updated and rebooted it would crash. So, I installed Ubuntu.

That was 2006. Since then I have moved on from Ubuntu and tried different Linux flavours. I stayed with Arch for some time and learned a lot. I became comfortable with the command line and even converted at least one person to Linux.

Today, going back to Windows isn’t something that I plan on doing. I hold no anti-Windows grudge but also have no need of what is offered by using that operating system. I have used Linux for about 15 years on six different computers and four Raspberry Pis without hindering my work or personal life.

So that’s it. I use Linux because my computer threw a fit one day and I liked what Linux had to offer. The further benefits of using Linux on a daily basis put me on another path about three or four years ago. I mentioned this in another post. It is the quest for privacy and free open-source software.

On my computer, this was not a Herculean challenge. With mobile phones, it isn’t so straightforward. You can root the phone or use different scripts to de-google it. Even some feature phones come with Google products, Facebook and WhatsApp.

I started a full de-googling around this time last year. I didn’t rush it. I got rid of the apps on my phone and replaced them with choices from F-Droid. For some time I using only one app from F-Droid; today I have 41 different apps installed from that appstore that I use regularly enough to keep around.

Once I had the app situation dealt with I went about removing my presence from Google. I transfered to a different email provider. I got a phone that came with as little bloat as possible, a Nokia, and used a script to remove most of the Google apps and manufacturer extras. I have never once connected to Google with this device.

I’m not going to dedicate many more words to this topic today. I feel like this post is far too long. I’ll wrap it up with something else I tell people regularly:

Every day I am surprised by what people make and share. The people in the different associated communities create wonderful software and take time to maintain and update it. That software gives an end-user like myself an option that just makes sense. If you buy a device, you should have some form of control over it and know that your data is not just safe, but also private.