Open source software played a huge role in my professional life this year, and it was undoubtedly a change for the better.
Ironically, one of the best things that happened to me during this year is my MacBook drowning in a cup of coffee. Totally my fault, but broken arrow key wasn’t. It turns out, official service center won’t change that key unless you order a full repair for $2,000. Well, fuck Apple, I’ve found a local unofficial repair shop and fixed it for a fraction of the price, but it left me thinking about the fact that with MacBooks, I’m not in control of my own hardware and software.
A couple of days later, I’ve decided that I shouldn’t encourage such a shitty behavior, and I should probably get a better laptop. In fact, more conscious consumption is one of the main things I was thinking about during 2019. The thing is, by tolerating crappy features inside the products we use, we pressure our peers to do the same, and we also encourage nasty companies to do a lot of shady stuff such as stealing our data (yes, everyone is after our activity data and every piece of software is a spying tool until proven otherwise).
My choice fell on Dell XPS 13 and I’ve been using this laptop exclusively for the last six months since the summer of 2019. This means Linux, so I’m finally Apple-free, but what about its partner in crime, Google?
Google is an interesting beast. It doesn’t sell crappy hardware while blindly denying it’s defects, and it once had a motto which said “Don’t be evil”, although they changed their mind and ditched it a few years ago. Their way to make money is quite clever and also insidious. They seem to be everywhere, giving away free stuff like Santa Claus. Do you need email? Searching for something? Maybe you want to use maps? Where would you go to do most of your tasks online? Google controls a huge chunk of the modern web, and it follows and tracks you everywhere in order to sell targeted ads to their clients. And who’s the target? Right…
The problem is, it’s not that easy to remove Google from our lives. It’s pretty easy to switch from an iPhone to a hyped new Pixel but it’s just choosing between two evils. Unfortunately, ~80% of mobile phones are controlled by Google and the rest of them are controlled by Apple. There are no alternative mainstream options.
So I thought. I mean, it’s true, but I work in tech, so it doesn’t have to be mainstream, and I can tolerate a bit of complexity and read a guide or two. The obvious non-mainstream alternative is LineageOS, the successor to CyanogenMod, so I tried it, and I’ve never came back to Google ROMs, so it looks like I managed to ditch both Google and Apple this year, what a great year it was!
LineageOS team is doing a great job, and they would probably appreciate any financial contributions. I don’t have time to write code for this project, so I started supporting them on Patreon.
Hugo is a poster child of a modern open source project. Seriously, it’s everything one can dream of and far, far beyond. Easy to use? Checked. Free? Of course. Well maintained and constantly evolving? No doubt about that. Their changelogs and documentation is a pleasure to read, a rare property for a piece of software, unfortunately.
So, I’ve decided to support it too.