Building my first gaming computer since 12 years is a good opportunity to start a new blog. I thought several times about the idea but it never materialized. I’m a GNU/Linux user since my early computer days. I liked to play computer games as a kid. But often I was more interested in how all these things work.
As most of the users I started with the so called standard software installed by the vendor of your machine. Sure in the beginning you think there are no alternatives. And at that time for gaming there was none, except consoles, but as I wanted more then just gaming this was never an option for me.
Computers offered way more options. Tons of different hardware, games, magazines and optimizations. At that time the last point was quite important. The hardware was week and as a teenager I couldn’t afford to buy the new hardware. Most of the equipment was used or received as a present. It was exiting! And you shared and enjoyed it with your friends. I remember the time when the Voodoo graphics hardware with it’s own Glide stack was way more powerful then the one from other vendors. It was the software that made this piece of hardware so impressive even on used or less powerful devices.
I realized that optimizations and continuous development did interest me more. So I started to test, try and improve my machine.
My first GNU/Linux distribution was SUSE Linux. The installation manual provided with the installation media was impressive by its sheer size and I thought, wow this must be a powerful tool. Believing this I experimented a lot, but most of if it didn’t work as expected or worse it didn’t work at all. The user experience was terrible. It didn’t matter what you try, you always found issues, bugs and wasted time.
Frustrated about the user experience, quality and functionality I left GNU/Linux for years behind. Besides some test here and there I didn’t take a lot of notice.
It all changed when the world of software wasn’t anymore about openness, freedom and sharing. The new technologies that the internet offered have been demonized. Money became the only objective, so users should be restricted, encaged, observed and guided to the predefined consumables. No rights to choose, no way to disconnect and no way to escape.
It was the time when I started my studies in computer and business sciences. I really got tired by the business model of the big companies. For years they hided the real price everybody had to pay. Every computer that you buy, only one operating system and several parties collecting money just for the possibility that a computer can share data. Did they ask you? No. Did they tell you the price you pay? No. Even providing the operating system, office and development software for “free” is just about making people used to someting and by this dependent. Still until today you can find these offers to students and developers.
I decided this has to stop, at least in my influence area. I want alternatives. And I need to support and use them.
If there are so many GNU/Linux distributions, I thought, there must be a way to get everything working as I would expect it to be. But most or if not all GNU/Linux distributions struggled with internal issues, old software, bad decisions and a wrong focus.
Even knowing this I switched fully to GNU/Linux, trying to get around the weaknesses. I knew there wouldn’t be the perfect time. But the other operating systems have been as well far from perfection, ignoring limitations and sanctions.
Often in the free/open source software world a weakness can be as well one of its biggest strength. Searching for solutions I came to the conclusion that stable software is a myth. Everything moves, changes and develops. And as a user you should follow the flow, help making things better, share know-how and tools, making your own decisions and focus on your interests.
The best continuous developing GNU/Linux distribution I found so far is Arch Linux, it is about simplicity, flexibility and rolling release. Until today I’m still struggling with issues and bugs in GNU/Linux. But using the latest software I can help improving it. You can see the developments early, provide direct feedback to the developers and help others.
Personally I can’t imagine a world anymore without free and open source software like GNU/Linux, KDE, Firefox, Apache, MariaDB, Nextcloud,… I will use my blog to share my experience and I will use it as a platform to report openly oddities, struggles and challenges. I like free and open source software a lot and personally I don’t use anything else anymore, except where the outside world forces me like at work or if I need to help somebody. This blog is about free and open source software, don’t expect that I compare it to anything else.
Using software, and it doesn’t matter which one, can be frustrating, it often lacks certain functionality, has bad default configuartion, requires too many steps and has bugs. But free and open source software is improving constantly and talking about the issue will help to get them solved. And every new user thar runs free and open software will help to grow the community and attract new developer. So by writing about my exerpience I hope that I can encourage others to not give up, try again and help to improve free and open source software with whatever activity fits the best. Critics should be welcome, and discussing issues openly as well. On the long run everybody will benefit.
So hello to the world.