Linux Misadventures: Privacy, Open-Source & Abstraction.

It has been quite a few days since I went back to using Fedora. Everything is working fine, excluding games. Games and Linux do not seem to play nice with each other but that is a story for another time.

One thing that I have noticed using Linux is that I seem to be more privacy conscious. I do not know if it is the community. The tone in the Linux related videos on YouTube or maybe just something in my drinking water. I just constantly felt that someone is going to steal my data and I should really care about it.

So, I considered using the Tor Browser. The Tor Browser will route your traffic around the world to prevent the site you are visiting from identifying you. Then taking data like passwords down from the cloud and into a command line application called pass. I worry about getting malware. Every cloud provider seems like a bad guy and etc. It was not a good time, but it felt good to have my data under my lock and key. Is it worth the hassle though, only time will tell?

My journey to maximum privacy eventually led me to open-source software. Those application are great if they do not break. Not to mention that, open-source software is mainly free. I have heard many open-source advocates say that “Open Source is free as in Speech, not as in Beer” but from my observations that does not seem to be entirely true. Most of the time open-source software is free. If the developers even dare to try to get people to pay for it there would be a huge backlash. Taken to extremes, people would just fork the project and leave the original developers behind. To be honest, that does not seem to be fair.

In general, I think that open source is a great idea, but it is not a great business model. Yes, there are some companies that built their business on open-source software but those are few and far between. One often used example is RedHat. RedHat built a business by providing support for a product they gave away for free. But for every example, there is a counter example. Let us look at Docker. Docker provided a solution where you package your program together with an environment. Using docker, you could basically deploy your program anywhere and be confident that your program will work. I would argue that Docker made a great product but where is Docker now? Docker’s business basically imploded because it is open-sourced. Bigger companies just took the idea and ran with it leaving Docker behind. If Docker were not open source maybe, just maybe, they could have been the next Microsoft. But I digress. I guess that is more than enough ranting about open source for one day. Moving on.

I wanted all my software to be open source so I could be confident that nothing is spying on me. That led me to rejecting Visual Studio Code. Despite being open-sourced Visual Studio Code is distributed in a binary format, so you do not actually know what is in it. And that was a source of anxiety for me. So, I just went with Gedit instead. You don’t say, Gedit was works fine as a code editor. That came as a surprise for me. It is surprising how many language syntaxes are built into Gedit.

Open-sourced software for me was like a gateway into another world. It allowed me to understand what my system is doing under the hood. Before I knew it, I had a rough understanding of how parts of Linux were put together to create the distribution that people call Fedora. Somewhere along the way though the Operating System just became a combination of parts in my head. I could not really use my computer without thinking about the underlying parts. I became more reliant on the terminal. There was no longer a layer of abstraction between me and the operating system. The programs I use daily are still the same, but I changed. For me, the OS was no longer a platform. Is it for the better or worse I do not know. But it sure made installing and using software a lot more difficult. Do I use packages in the official repositories, or should I go for flatpack? Or… maybe I should go for snaps instead. I do not know if this is the same for you, but this is how things are for me.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing, I do not know?

That is it, for today. See you next time on my next Linux Misadventures.

“Cookie” as in “Web,” not as in “Milk”.

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