Can I live on FOSS?

2021/09/03

Tags: Open Source Me Meta 100DaysToOffload

TLDR: I want to live a life where every piece of software (and hardware) is free and open source. I want to have an online presence independent from using others' services.

The longer I have been using computers and the Internet the more I have wanted to be independent from it. The more I used computers the more I realise I don’t enjoy the things I use even if I am good with them. Many of the mainstream software providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook unfortunately do not have your best interests at heart. My biggest regret was using their software with arrogance, as even to this day I still have to depend on it for things like communicating with others. My second biggest regret was also tying my personal life and personal information to these services, who may have this information forever…

A small life story, why I care about FOSS.

Before I ever started building a website, in fact, ever since I was at college, I wanted to have greater control over my computing habits, my online life, and my privacy. My IT degree didn’t require me to have a lot of time in class. This would mean I’d have a lot of time during my lunch breaks (3-5 hours!), and many of those lunch breaks I’d be occupied in reading stuff or playing around on my laptop in the library.

Back then I had an HP laptop with 2 USB ports and Windows 10 on it. I seriously hated using that laptop, to the point I downgraded to a ThinkPad X230 simply because it had better I/O and I was not using much of the higher spec I had on the HP laptop. I also grew sour on using Windows and I wanted to try a (GNU/)Linux distribution on a separate machine. The following month, I began to use that laptop full time instead, and adopt a free and open source software environment without even realising most of their benefits.

At the time I didn’t care about the software I used and I would use free software simply because it was free in price. I began getting into privacy after the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal I occured. In response to this I would find websites like ‘PRISM Break’ or ‘PrivacyTools’ to find alternatives to what I currently was using. I would not really follow everything these sites say now, but they all had one thing in common:

Almost all of the promoted programs and services are free and open source software.

My teachers in college would also ask me about why I was using an MP3 player, and during my referral to the University I applied to, they noted my interest in free software and the fact I liked breakbeat music of all things! It was a nice funny story.

College sometimes paid me for equipment due to financial struggles I had at the time, and with the excess money I bought a Sony MP3 player. I then installed Rockbox, a FOSS firmware for portable music players which was recommended to me from a friend. If your MP3 player supports Rockbox I 100% suggest you try it for yourself. Ill write about it sometime.

Rockbox was my red pill for open source software. Looking more into the history I read about it’s significance and history, and why such software is better than proprietary software. I care about free and open source software because using it makes me more private, secure, and most importantly it makes me independent. My biggest problem with proprietary software is that you are sometimes left to be dependent to them, as people wont accept others' choices.

Why I want to live FOSS

Some people promote their ideas, and I want to live them. I want to see if being able to live a life where my software, hardware, services, and other devices run an entire free and open source stack is possible. If I can’t be 100%, I can at least try to document how far I can progress. The reasons in particular for why I want to do this are:

Currently, I have examined some benefits and risks to my plan:

My end result

My limitations

What I will do

I will document my progress in my new Journey to FOSS page. It wont be out yet but the draft will have to be particularly big to start with… hopefully it should be done in the next few days? or a week? Depends how much progress I am wanting to do.

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