While struggling to get the now deprecated Windows 7 off of my home computers I came to further realizations about operating systems.
It is not so much a matter of economics as of engineering that closed proprietary software for certain technical aspects of our lives is dangerous.
Fortuitously, there are solutions out there, and mine were finally solved by Linux Mint.
I had fun playing around with Qubes — the marvellous creation of Joanna Rutkowska from Warsaw, and indeed feel it is a next step in its virtualization of everything and privacy focus — and of course free price tag and open-sourcysness — but I think it still needs some work.
Linux Mint just worked on my 16-Gb RAM 5-year old tower — sound, wireless (I had to buy a specific wireless adapter by Panda for about 100$ but it works seamlessly and was a small price to pay) and hardware.
I will continue to use a Mac laptop — though I also installed Linux Mint on an old Lenovo Thinkpad which is also working great — and bought a refurbished Dell Desktop machine running Windows 10 for my dad to use, but I think after all this there is a reason tech companies have reached trillion dollar valuations: because they are a rip off.
Further justification for open source less overtly commercial software alternatives includes the use, or misuse of resources.
I actually had a technical writing job with a company originally called Watch4net, subsequently bought by world storage leader EMC and then by Dell, where I learnt a ton about system resource monitoring. At Watch4net we were really dealing with the biggest networks like Bell in Montreal and Telefonica and BT in Europe, but the software was really sort of a very souped-up version of the Windows task manager. Point being I learnt more about CPU and RAM usage.
Well, Chrome is a HUGE resource hog, so much so that it literally provoked me to buy a MacBook Pro with 32 GB of RAM (actually received as a generous birthday present) just to handle my tab-heavy browsing. Moreover, Google software like virtually all commercial software houses is now replete with trackers and ads, and this seriously slows things down. And Windows itself, while making significant improvements evidently with Windows 10, still has all that legacy code and additional data tracking and advertising hooks to shoulder.
I found through experimentation that I just could run a lot more websites on Linux Mint with Brave because bloat software is significantly reduced.
Again, for domains like medicine, so important now because of the COVID-19 outbreak, running environmental simulations to combat climate change, and dealing with a myriad of other mission critical tasks, why deal with all that flotsam, why not go open source and mostly free and seemingly even technically more sophisticated — all top supercomputers now run Linux so why not run it on your very own desktop!Spotify and WordPress backend on Linux Mint.
How Brave Could be Killed
It is surely an act of altruism that Google makes Chromium available, and thus the ad and tracking-free Brave Browser becomes possible (you can opt-in to viewing ads in Brave but you are actually paid for viewing these) but like all businesses Alphabet — the parent company of Google — has shareholder value as its raison d’être, Jamie Dimon’s Business Roundtable Declaration notwithstanding, and while I am not sure of the legal responsibilities Alphabet has to Chromium — I have to do more research — I just feel like if Brave became any kind of threat to Alphabet the project may simply be scuttled. No more Chromium, no more Brave Browser.
For now I am willing to take that chance but never — even in these days of seeming monopolies everywhere we look — should we put all our eggs into one basket as alternatives to everything that is on top now already exists and improves with the daily build and strong dispersed developer networks: thank G-d.