Hello World indeed! I thought it would be appropriate to start off my blog by leaving the default WordPress post title as it is. After all, the ‘Hello World’ phrase is synonymous with programming and computers. Although I don’t plan to blog about programming per se, I will be talking about all things computer related, be it software or hardware. One topic which I am particularly interested to discuss, is that of open source and/or free (libre) software (non-propriety). I haven’t yet decided whether I should use one of those terms exclusively yet, so for now, I will keep the ‘and/or’.
When starting my own website design business earlier this year, I was determined to remove my dependency on propriety platforms and although I had dipped my toes into the proverbial water of GNU / Linux, it hadn’t yet replaced my everyday computing. This was partly due to my role in IT Support for a large multinational company, where I was fixing issues with Microsoft Windows and software which ran on it. The other reason for my delayed forray into open source / free software was due to my ownership of a Macbook and iPhone which until then, were doing everything I needed and wanted! I was often impressed by how fast and reliable Apple’s operating system (OS X) was when compared to Windows. I now know that OS X is similar to the Unix operating system, something which it has in common with GNU / Linux. In essence, I wanted to free myself of getting stuck in an endless cycle of renewing my iPhone and Macbook with the newest variants and also of being locked in to using certain software, like Microsoft Office, or Pages/Numbers (Apple’s word processor and spreadsheet programs). Although less of an issue, privacy concerns had been on my mind too, with all of the revelations in the media this year. It’s well known that propriety operating systems and software could and can contain methods to spy on their users. Even though I have nothing I want to hide, why should I leave the door open to allow large multinational corporations and governments to analyse my activity.
So I put my best foot forward and made the leap. You can see the screenshot of my current customised Debian Desktop above and in a later blog I will go into detail about my current setup. Today, I do all my computing activities: writing code, designing graphics, editing photos/videos all with open source / free software and it feels good. I can do everything that I used to be able to do and in some cases more. It’s never been easier to make the switch and more and more laptops work out of the box with GNU / Linux. Of the devices I’ve used, I’d say Lenovo, Dell & Asus machines are the ones I have had the most success with, but I have managed to run GNU/Linux on others, with a little configuration.
So, I’ve stopped using Windows and OS X, but what about my mobile phone? Well, I no longer use an iPhone and have instead opted for Google’s Android (on Motorola’s Moto G). Whilst Android is an Open Source project, it is not completely free of propriety software, but it’s the best I can get at the moment (I have tried others), whilst still maintaining the features and benefits that a mobile phone provides. For some, this maybe too much of a compromise, but for now, it’s one I’m willing to live with, especially when I can turn off a lot of the features which would allow for tracking and snooping. However, I feel less tied to Android than I did to iOS (a good thing) and if something else should come along, switching won’t be difficult.