blog.johanka.net

Linux and politics

Why Linux, you might be asking.

Well, the short answer would be, because the world of open-source software and Linux in general is all about freedom. There is no prescribed approach to anything, not a single right way of doing things. Each and every task can be performed in a variety of different ways and there are always several options to choose from. It's a heaven to us, liberals, regardless of where we find ourselves on the left or right part of the political spectrum. Where else would you get both free choice and community, collaboration and autonomy, business (exchange) and sharing? Now, this doesn't mean you can't earn money with it. Ubuntu, for instance, is run by a corporation that earns revenue selling high-level services and customised open-source software as products to other companies. Red Hat works on a similar basis. The GPL licence then allows for many of these commercial customisations to become part of the "free" distributions.

Whenever there's choice (and this, admittedly, is the leftie in me speaking) I prefer the operating system built with the sense of purpose in mind that not just the well-off who can afford a new computer with new software licences every two years (I exaggerate here a little bit, I know) can use it legally, but also the penniless kid, a kid who may be short of money not because his or her irresponsible parents pour what's left of their meagre wages into the slot machine at the end of each month, but because their family had to bear all the costs of installing air conditioning in their overheated apartment that would be unliveable otherwise.

The reasons I have chosen Linux Mint are mainly the rare combination of its high stability and reliability that together with ease of use and strong visual appeal are the features that make it suitable even to the most demanding (and more conservative) user who doesn't necessarily have the time to tweak each setting anew after every upgrade and prefers an operating system that, while being essentially non-commercial, still works out of the box.

Design, of course, should not be the decisive factor when evaluating a set of software tools whose primary function is to serve as intermediary between the user and the physical machine that performs the desired operation. We cannot, however, underestimate the fact that people, for the most part, are visual creatures and having an appealing design, which moreover evokes a way of life that is friendly to the environment, surely adds to the appeal of the whole enterprise. Mint of course feels like a breeze of fresh air and reminds me of my favourite tea flavour. The smell of cinnamon (which inspired the name of one of the graphical environments) is also my favourite.

You can read more about Mint on its website and blog, ask questions on the forums or visit the Ubuntu forums for related guidance. There is also a Wikipedia article. Now, any experienced Linux user would tell you that both Mint and Ubuntu are essentially forks of Debian (and they would be right). Debian is the most non-commercial Linux distribution with a global developer community. It is, however, not particularly suited to beginners as a desktop solution.

As always when discussing personal preferences and experience on this site, the same disclaimer applies - what suits me doesn't have to suit you, if you find other flavours of Linux/Unix more to your liking or if proprietary tools work for you, fine. I am not here to "convert" anyone. :-) You need to be willing to try these new tools out yourselves.

copy left Johanka Piskovská, 2020