Igor Bubelov About Blog Photos

Open Source

December 20, 2020

My first operating system was Windows, and I loved it. Not that it was good, there were simply no alternatives. What else could a kid use? Using Linux requires pretty deep technical knowledge and using macOS requires a lot of money. It was true a couple of decades ago, and it’s still true nowadays.

Later in my life, I’ve got some technical skills and curiosity to try Linux. My first attempts to use Linux failed miserably, but I was able to use Ubuntu a few years later when I got my first programming job. This job also improved my finances, so I was able to afford a MacBook and try macOS. It worked really well for me, mostly because the only things I needed to run were a Java IDE and a Chrome browser. That’s a pretty good deal, really. You get everything you need, wrapped in a polished user interface.

It’s clear that I was motivated by pragmatic reasons. I didn’t really care about open source software or replaceable hardware until my new MacBook started to fall apart. It may sound like an impulsive rage-quit, but at some point I just gave up on MacBooks and ordered Dell XPS 13 which is known to play nice with Linux.

Switching to Linux wasn’t easy, but it’s one of those things which are unpleasant at the beginning but hugely rewarding in the long run. When it comes to graphical user interfaces, most of the Linux programs are generations behind Windows and macOS, but the thing is: even the best GUIs are less productive than command line interfaces. Terminal is an endless source of productivity, and once you get used to it, there is no way back.

As you can see, there is a pragmatic case for open software and replaceable hardware, but it’s not the whole story. What does it mean to own a computer? Do you own yours? Those kinds are questions are well addressed by Richard Stallman and if you don’t know much about this guy and his ideas, you should probably listen to a few of his speeches. I’m not going to repeat all the main FOSS talking points, but I’ve been thinking a lot about individual sovereignty in the recent years, and I believe that not being able to fix your hardware or inspect your software is a thing we absolutely shouldn’t tolerate. You don’t own a thing if you’re discouraged to look inside and see what it does. That’s the main reason why I use open source software and recommend it to other people.