Some good changes I've made recently
By Ariel Costas - July 31, 2021
I’ve recently made some good decissions in my life as an computer user. From changing my distribution, text editor and email client to finding more efficient ways to do my computing (and more ethical too!).
To give some context, I started running GNU/Linux along with Losedows around September 2020, with Mint GNU/Linux. After a few months, I decided to move to a lighter distro called EndeavourOS, based on Arch but with a graphical installer and tools (I was too afraid of installing using a TTY).
In July 2021, EndeavourOS had too many packages for my liking, and I was using a tiling WM, so I didn’t need a DM anymore. I didn’t want to have to get rid of the packages without breaking dependencies, so I decided to distrohop once again, this time to Artix GNU/Linux. I’m happy on Artix right now. I’m using the Runit version, with PipeWire, xinit (instead of LightDM or any others) and Qtile as my Window Manager.
If you really want to learn GNU/Linux, you should learn how to make a system from the ground up (not LFS, compiling everything is just an innecessary pain in the a**). Losing fear to the TTY, learning to configure GRUB, partitioning yourself the disk and mounting everything is just better than running a graphical installer.
Although, if you just want a distribution to work on something else, don’t want much tweaking and don’t want to be updating every day, you should consider a stable distribution like Debian (or Devuan), Trisquel, Solus or Pop!_OS.
I proposed myself to learn vim last year, mainly because it’s an editor available on almost any GNU/Linux machine by default, it’s easily extensible and is used on the terminal. It also has bindings usable from other editors (like VS Codium, which I was running at the time).
However, I found it to be not that great without setting up a ton of plugins and crap, so I just started looking for something else that was also good and was Free Software (I don’t want to depend on a proprietor for a text editor). I tried Geany, Nano, Atom and even Brackets (by Adobe).
After some time I just gave up on searching, until one day talking to Saint iGNUcius himself, I decided to try emacs. I watched some videos on the topic and I fell in love. Org-mode is great, rmail is cool too for sending and receiving email, and editing Markdown, RST or even programming is great in emacs.
It’s really extensible thanks to the Elisp language, the package repositories (GNU ELPA and MELPA, mainly) and the huge community it has behind. So, if you want a stable text editor that’s extensible and can be used for anything (even writing, better than MS Office and other WYSIWYG editors), then emacs should be considered.
Getting away from social media
On July 30, I deactivated my twitter account after many years on that social network. The process was not easy: I downloaded all my data, announced I would be deleting my account and went through the list of people I follow to subscribe to their tweets via RSS (although I don’t really check it).
The reasons behind this are multiple:
The people: Many tech accounts are just people saying “anyone can code” and that motivational stuff, instead of actual ways of learning programming or just tech-related content. There also a lot of accounts that just post about “best practices” and that shit using bloated frameworks that ruin the web (aka. React et al).
Privacy: I’ve learned in the last months that privacy is important, after seeing a lot of dystopian series/books, and China’s Social Credit system. I’m worried that our freedom is killed, and social media can help Big Brother achieve it. I’m not going to help them.
It consumes a lot of time: I wasted literally hours just reading twitter, whether I was at home or going somewhere, I just couldn’t be without reading it. Now I don’t spend that much time on my phone (although Instagram has partially taken Twitter’s place on time wasting).
Now I use Mastodon as a micro-blogging system, and when I need to read something
from Twitter for some reason, I replace
This article is getting too long, and I’d better finish it, so here is a list of some other replacements I’ve done:
SEARCH ENGINE: I replaced Google by DuckDuckGo, although I now moved to Qwant because it looks nicer and has better results than Bing.
GIT HOSTING: Initially I hosted my code on GitHub and GitLab, but after Microsoft’s announcement of Copilot I decided to refuse to use GH at all so I deleted my account. I had a Gitea server on my machine, but I replaced it by cgit because it is lighter.
MOBILE APPLICATION STORE: I prefer looking for Free Software applications on F-Droid, instead of running proprietary ones. Phones are still bad, but at least there’s a “bit of freedom”.
EMAIL CLIENT: I was quite happy with Thunderbird, although it looks ugly and doesn’t allow hard wrapping text emails and won’t use the GnuPG keyring (so you have to import the keys there too). I now use emacs with Rmail (included by default).
FILE SHARING: Instead of uploading to a third-party server and my friends downloading, I just create a torrent and share it directly. I run qBitTorrent’s built-in tracker, create torrents and send the magnet to my friends.
#life #freedom #software