How I do my computing

Modeled loosely after Stallman’s own piece by the same name.

My computer

  • I currently use a Thinkpad X230 computer with an Atheros WiFi card and flashed with a Coreboot bios and the Intel Management Engine disabled. The CPU Microcode, VGA Rom and Embedded Controller should be the only proprietary components still active on this laptop.

  • In general I try to avoid proprietary software on my hardware. However I have been known to make carefully considered exceptions if no free software alternative is available.

  • I am currently trying out Mageia 6, a GNU/Linux distribution. I have previously enjoyed a stint with FreeBSD and NetBSD. I have also enjoyed and recommended Debian in the past.

  • I am currently trying out KDE Plasma 5. XFCE was my preferred desktop environment previously and I highly recommend it still.

  • I use Emacs. Previously, Atom was my preferred text editor. Atom is built with Electron which imports Google technologies and it is not as Unix friendly as it initially appears. I no longer recommend any software based on Electron.

  • I use Firefox for all my browsing on PC.

  • I use Thunderbird for my email on PC. Previously I used Evolution.

How this site is maintained

  • I build this site using Emacs and Hugo and it is served by NetBSD’s httpd. I have enjoyed this arrangement, but will be migrating to OpenBSD’s httpd in the future.

  • I store the raw hugo project in a fossil repository. A cron job on the server periodically checks the fossil repository for new tagged releases and updates the site accordingly.

How I use the Internet

  • I am very careful with what services I use on the internet. Wherever possible I use libre services that have a high degree of privacy.

  • As a general rule I try not to buy DRM encumbered media unless I can break the DRM. I have made carefully weighed exceptions to this but it tends to hold for me as a general principle. I also do not buy any digital media from Microsoft, Amazon, Google or Apple.

  • As an associate member of the FSF I am given an email alias under to any mailbox I wish. I have used this as my primary email address for years making it trivial to switch email provides.

  • I currently use for email, caldav and carddav hosting. They meet the FSF guidelines for webmail providers, encrypt the storage in such a way that they cannot decrypt it and are carbon neutral. I previously using a self hosted Owncloud for caldav and carddav but did not enjoy being responsible for the upgrades. NextCloud looks to be a better alternative to Owncloud for those who want a self hosted option.

  • I use NewsBlur as a cloud based RSS service. I previously hosted my own TinyTinyRSS instance but found that I was bad at keeping it updated.

  • In lieu of using any cloud storage for my files I use a peer to peer syncing tool named Syncthing. It synchronizes files in select folders in a method that I gather might be superficially similar to dropbox.

  • For searching I use DuckDuckGo.

  • I run my own XMPP/Jabber server for chatting. I use Prosody for this task.

  • I currently use Telegram to communicate in realtime with people who don’t text or wont use XMPP/Jabber.

Programming languages

  • I am learning Scheme. I am also curious about Haskell and KDE’s Kirigami framework. I have used Vala, C# (Mono) , Java , C++ , Pascal and other languages in the past.

  • I am by and large uninterested in web programming which unfortunately seems to be the modern paradigm.