2019-12-24-new-world-of-software.md (3818B) - raw


      1 <!-- title: A new world of software -->
      2 <!-- slug: new-world-of-software -->
      3 <!-- categories: FOSS, Miscellany -->
      4 <!-- date: 2019-12-24T00:00:00Z -->
      5 
      6 As I have said before, I was a big user of big tech companies' services. I also
      7 used macOS (and Windows before that) and proprietary software for mostly
      8 everything. I didn't really know what free[^fsw] software was and, if I was
      9 running any, it was by coincidence.
     10 
     11 [^fsw]: Here (and throughout the post) I am talking about [free as in
     12   freedom][fs] software.
     13 
     14 At college, I discovered the world of GNU/Linux. I had an old computer that was
     15 very slow and someone promised that GNU/Linux would make it significantly
     16 faster, so I installed Debian next to macOS. This way, every time I turned on my
     17 computer I would be able to choose which operating system I wanted to use, and
     18 if something happened to my GNU partition, I could still use the computer as
     19 before. Even with Debian installed, the computer eventually started to become
     20 too slow for my needs and I bought a new computer where I also installed Debian
     21 next to the default OS. As for the old computer, I eventually erased both
     22 partitions and installed Manjaro with XFCE instead, I don't use it much anymore
     23 because of its limitations.
     24 
     25 Progressively, I learned more and more about free software and I decided to use
     26 the Debian partition nearly-exclusively. Ultimately, I got used to the new
     27 desktop environment, the new tools (the terminal!) and all the new different
     28 things you find in GNU/Linux. There has been an interesting side effect of using
     29 Debian as my daily operative system: most of the software I now run is
     30 free/libre as a result of it.
     31 
     32 I always thought free software was either worse than the proprietary alternative
     33 or non-existent for a given task. What I have realized is that there are free
     34 options for most of the use cases and that once you are used to the terminal,
     35 they can even be easier to work with, work faster and be more reliable.
     36 Moreover, they normally[^ime] are also lighter programs, use fewer resources and
     37 generally follow standards (whereas proprietary software creates its own
     38 protocols/file types more frequently).
     39 
     40 [^ime]: That is generally in my experience.
     41 
     42 Don't get me wrong, there are advantages to proprietary software. It can
     43 sometimes work better, be nicer or more intuitive. Maybe it just suits your
     44 needs better because it's what you are used to. There may be commodities we are
     45 familiar with in proprietary software that are hard to let go of. However, in my
     46 case, it has gotten to the point that it is the other way around. It is hard to
     47 let go the easy installation process of free software, without license
     48 complications, the fact that it is available for GNU/Linux operative systems,
     49 the community around the software, the minimalism of the tools that get the job
     50 done, without the need of thousands of extra features.
     51 
     52 There is a whole world of efficient and useful software that I had never
     53 *really* explored and I now see why so many people use it. I no longer look for
     54 free/libre *alternatives* to a proprietary program, but it is the only kind of
     55 software that I look for. Dealing with closed source and proprietary software is
     56 now my plan B, when everything else fails.
     57 
     58 ## Final note
     59 
     60 Firstly, in this post I claim certain qualities of both free and proprietary
     61 software. It is always spoken from my experience and perspective, your
     62 experience may be different. They are also qualities that I commonly find,
     63 instead of a claim that all software on a given category has them. Secondly, I
     64 deliberately left aside the ethical component of free software, as it wasn't
     65 what I wanted to talk about, however, you might be interested in reading more
     66 about it.
     67 
     68 
     69 [fs]: <https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html> "What is free software? — GNU Project"