Open Source Adventures

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Open Source Adventures

At the begining of each post I put a list of tags. To search for specific topics simply search for a term like "Ubuntu" in the provided field after pressing control+f

July 28th, 2020 @10:53am

Tags:Freesoftware Mastodon Socialnetwork

A few weeks ago I retired my use of Gnusocial and today I made the switch to Mastodon. This came about due to an age old complaint I have about free software intiatives and an attempt to streamline some of my online presence. These are both normal themes I ebb and flow through as I navigate the often rough waters of the modern internet; while also trying to stay consistent with my values.

I had been using Gnusocial since the days of Statusnet and had largely stayed with it due to habit. But, like many free software intiatives it never seemed fully baked, instances lacked features the software otherwised possessed, and advocates were so focused on the software side that they rarely actually used it to share content. The first server I was part of shut down without warning and I lost all my data, not that it was particuarly important, but still. The second server I joined turned out to have like no one on it, there were several times I was the only one on that server. Then the kiss of death, the server was handed off to the Peers Community which is a group of projects notorious for not maintaining things, allow projects to die without notice, and generally not communicating. I went to find yet another server, only to find out that exports were not set-up, I again had to delete my account, and lost my data.

I really struggle with Free Software. At its core I believe in everything it stands for, its the real world implementation that makes the whole thing unattentable. Everything just seems stuck in a perpetual alpha stage, too many projects are basically one person, and they all seem to try to do too much. Then there is the uninspired design by exclusion. Instead of focusing on efforts that create something new that is designed to be Libre from the start, many prject take non-free software, deduct the problem pieces, and roll with that. Except this rarely works well and leaves behind an incomplete product. The developer spends all their time substracting and they rarely have time to create something new. Even though Gnusocial didn't start out this way, the outcomes was similar.

Mastdon on the other hand, is far more feature complete and polished. More importantly though, people actually use it in their daily lives and there are good mobile apps that support it. It is also free software and completely copyleft. Honestly, there is no reason to even have Gnusocial due to this. So, I moved on and it was a very good decision.

September 20th, 2019 @2:23pm

Tags: Android Google F-Droid /e/ Replicant Smartphone Nokia Rom

It is sort of fitting that my first entry on open source is less an adventure and more of a misadventure. Last night, for some unknown reason my Nexus 5x became a brick while I was using the calculator of all things. I had the phone for nearly four years, which I hear is astonding. Still, I felt unimpressed. After some trial and error I have come to the conclusion the emmc chip failed, which cannot be fixed.

When times were good, I changed out the stock Android that came with it for Lineage a couple years ago so I could continue reciveing updates. When I did this I deliberatly left out the Google Apps portion of Android. Basically, I was trying to get as close as possible to a free as in freedom phone without breaking basic functionality of the phone like Replicant does. With the exception of not having a good maps app I was pretty pleased with the end result. Android (-Google) + F-Droid = a pretty solid win.

If I was going to start again down that road today, I would do it differently. Today we have the /e/ foundation which makes a Google-less rom and then went a step further to provide working replacement apps with a focus on privacy. This includes maps. Also, I will say that even though my old phone worked well enough; it sort of looked like a hodge podge of different design philophies since all the apps were pulled from F-Droid. With /e/ they have thoughtfully unified the rather complete array of pre-installed apps with a single visual design.

But, here is the problem.../e/ is not selling phones in my country yet and after just losing all of my data that had not been backed up prior to the bricking I am not too keen going the self-install rought again. Whats more, my second choice, the Fairphone is also not coming to my country as of yet either.

After some deep thought on the matter and considering the student walkouts for climate action it is clear to me that I should hold off on buying an new phone until a refurbished one from /e/ makes its way to my shore. Until then I reached into my tech bone yard and pulled out my Nokia 3310 3g and my netbook. I used this set-up before and it worked well, I'll go into it in future entries. Simply runnning out and buying something new seems wasteful to me, especially when I have working tech I've already paid for.