As a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) ideologue, I think about my implicit and explicit use of various software systems daily (if not hourly). I would love nothing more than to be able to not use any proprietary software or hardware in my daily existence; However, there are a myriad of things that I could not do then such as:
- Drive my car
- Use a cellphone
- While there are are FOSS apps available and FOSS software systems, almost of the firmware is proprietary (If I recall correctly)
- Use a microwave oven
- Use a gas/electric oven
- Use a washing machine
- Use a gas/electric clothes dryer
- Use a gas/electric hot water heater
- Use a modern refrigerator
- Check out a book from the public library (the barcode scanner etc.)
- Perform my job as a web developer
- I need to test my code against Safari, Chrome, and IE.
- Use any of my guns to hunt.
- All of them were made in a factory using proprietary designs, equipment, machine firmware, etc.
- Print a digital document.
This list is clearly non-exhaustive; These are simply the things that I could think of off of the top of my head. Granted, some of these activities could be done using only FOSS hardware and software, but I would have to build them myself – none of these systems/objects exist in a form where I can simply go to the store and purchase one. And no person has enough time, or money, to build each of these things for themselves.
This train of thought has been running around in my head for months. I find it almost shameful that I continue to use proprietary hardware and software on a daily basis. I am disgusted with myself because while I extoll the virtues of FOSS, I turn around and take a hot shower, or use a microwave oven – and fall into complacency with proprietary systems.
In keeping with this train of thought, I am going to try and simplify my life so that I use a minimal amount of proprietary systems. I am going to get rid of most of my computers and replace them with a single, all FOSS machine. Even this set of actions is fraught with pitfalls: I will need to figure out some entirely FOSS way to do cross-browser compatibility testing. I will need to ensure that I can get this machine to connect to my employer’s crazy networking scheme (This is actually the biggest issue that I foresee). And, I will need to make sure that I can do everything that I would ever need to using only this machine.
I will keep posting here with updates on how this journey goes - assuming that I can get this server migrated from Ubuntu Server to a Free OS without incident!