How much do you actually care about your ideologies? - Psychology, Philosophy, and Licenses
d9a
Hey all. I've been thinking a lot recently about the software-related philosophies I wish to follow and such. This is a convoluted post, so bear with me.

For example if you saw my introduction thread (I'm new here. o/), you saw I'm trying to figure out what OS to settle on (again). I believe that free software is the way to go. I want complete control over my system, and I believe using proprietary software restricts that. I haven't had the usecase yet of needing to modify a program I use at the source code level (except programs like st and dwm where that's the only way to configure it), but I want the option. If shit hits the fan, I want the option to maintain my own fork of the software. Additionally, I care about privacy and think free software is the only way to go with that so you can verify what programs are doing in the background.

I'm trying to figure out how much I care. Right now, my only computers are a Thinkpad T420 and a Thinkpad X201 Tablet. The T420 is my main workstation and the X201 Tablet has laid dormant for a while (going to use it for ebooks soon). Both require proprietary drivers for their Intel wireless NICs. For the X201, this isn't too big of a deal since I can just use ethernet since I'm only going to use it to read. However, the T420 is a bigger issue since I will use it for everyday stuff. I eventually would like to flash the BIOS and use an Atheros NIC (I also could use a USB NIC); however, I don't trust the modified BIOSes that people have written and Coreboot still has some thermal issues which kinda scare me, but maybe they're not as big of a deal.

Other philosophy I really care about is the Unix philosophy of a program doing one thing and doing it really well. I think it makes it so that programs are easier to understand and extend. It's great how I can combine programs to accomplish things instead of waiting for a feature to be added, etc. I'm also a minimalist, so this follows that I think. If I don't need a feature, I just don't have the package installed. It's pretty easy to follow this if you choose the right user programs on pretty much any GNU/Linux distribution. However, as y'all know, systemd does not follow this and is on most GNU/Linux distros.

So let's get to the point of this post: I'm trying to determine how much I care about the above philosophies in the end to get stuff done. Like I said, my Thinkpads use Intel NICs. Until I can get a librebooted X200, I will always be using proprietary software in some form or another because of firmware even if I use Atheros NICs or no wireless on them because of the BIOS. This also extends to if I care about using Linux-libre or another deblobbed kernel or if I'm satisfied with what ships with whatever distribution I pick like Void Linux or Arch even with using a completely free system like my future X200. RE: Unix philosophy, I'm trying to figure out if I care enough to not use systemd. I haven't had a point where systemd has really hindered me. With my future X200, it'd probably be beneficial to just use Parabola since it guarantees I won't use proprietary software. If I do that though, it'd be great for my T420 and X201 Tablet to run Arch (or Parabola if I don't use the Intel NICs) so that my systems are uniform. However, all of that would mean stepping away from the Unix philosophy a bit due to systemd. With Void Linux, the main distro I've been looking at recently, I'd have to either be ok with proprietary blobs in the kernel if I'm not using them or compile Linux-libre myself.

Also while I've used Void before, I would have to learn a lot (which I'm willing to do. It's a matter of if it's worth the time) about it. It's also smaller than Arch, so there's the potential of it dying or not having a resource I need to fix my system if something happens. I basically want a community distro that's all free software while being big enough to sustain itself. I've also considered BSD, specifically OpenBSD, but I would have even more learning to do before I could even use it, and I want to get stuff done right now like actually coding which I've neglected for a while.

I hope I've written this well enough for you to understand. I'm trying to figure out what I care most about in which areas to balance following them with practicalities. Part of me wanting to write this post is maybe external processing. This might've just ended up being just a flow of thoughts onto a page that is not coherent. This is also my first forum post outside of my introduction, so I could be completely off base as to what you guys what on nixers.

What do you guys do? Do you use systemd even though you prefer the Unix philosophy? Do you use a blobbed kernel even though you are a strict free software user? Are you neither of these for some reason or another? I want this to be a discussion in general and not just "what should d9a do?". Thanks for reading if you got this far!

Edit: I've also had the thought that if I'm willing to use non-free wireless drivers, should I install the Intel microcode updates because of Spectre and Meltdown...? So much to decide on.
jkl
I avoid systemd because of its atrocious security and reliability implications.

I use a blobbed kernel because of my WiFi chipset.

And I honestly don't care about ethics. My computers are tools and I expect them to be good at their designated tasks. I don't really care how.
anthk
I use OpenBSD. It has blobs, but fw blobs are optional, while the rest must be readable to the code; everything else is not accepted. FW blobs are ok, because they are meant as a ROM replacement, but not as inline code.

I don't use GNU/Linux and/or SystemD. My ZipitZ2 uses OpenWRT and it works great with that.

About my environment, I use:

- CWM.
- Conky.
- Dunst.
- TMux
- Nvi for Perl and C. Still learning.
- xsel.
- Noice.
- rss2email.
- NMH mail suite + Fetchmail + sendmail relay to may mail provider/fetchmail filter.
- FFMpeg/MPV.
- Imagemagick/Ghostview for convert(GIF)-> pdf2ps(PDF)->GS(PS)->ps2pdf14(PDF). The GIF is automatically made from a hundred of still images from Street View; I use a GPX file as the track.
- Sxiv. Thumbnail mode for folders = perfection. Use "-a" for gifs.
- Irssi + fnotify.pl + libnotify-bin + tail +entr. Also: tmux attach -t irssi || tmux new -s irssi irssi
- Bitlbee for Telegram/Twitter/XMPP.
- torsocks + w3m mostly.
- einfo -pp $EBOOK > book.html | lynx -force_html -nocolor -nolist stdin | less -r
- Vimb for the JS pests, altough https://qsview is fine. Simplyread JS to halt any CPU bloating scrapts.
- Tin. Yes, I use USENET.
- Steveblack/hosts' file, 's/0.0.0.0/127.0.0.1/g', then appended to a base /etc/hosts.base.
- mupdf.
- translate-shell+xsel+dunst.
- instalooper for GF' photos. Sxiv -r on the target $DIR.
- gphoto2 for the camera ones. Sxiv -r as the companion, ditto.
- gpscorrelate + vikingGPS - no light alternative :_( -
- "xcalib -a -i" at night/waking up. My eyes hurt less.
- Lots of suckless tools such as:
- sct for color temp.
- spt as a pomodoro time manager. Just run it.
- grabc to set some colors for MUPDF.
- ticker as a distracting toy with rss news.
- farbled/lel/shmff for fun.
- zzzy.
d9a
(10-01-2019, 03:47 PM)jkl Wrote: I avoid systemd because of its atrocious security and reliability implications.

Well it appears a few vulnerabilities in systemd were discovered today.... https://lwn.net/Articles/776404/

I don't know how this will affect my decision because it'd be no different if it affected the Linux kernel or other piece of software I use on every distribution. It does make me question it more though.

Edit: This vulnerability has pushed me to Void. I'll deal with the learning. These vulnerabilities exist because of sloppy programming.

(10-01-2019, 03:47 PM)jkl Wrote: And I honestly don't care about ethics. My computers are tools and I expect them to be good at their designated tasks. I don't really care how.

I care about the ethics because I don't want my software compromising me because I decided to trust it.
venam
The question of whether you should be an extremist follower of a certain philosophy or play with parts of it, dealing with ambiguities is one that is getting more and more popular these years. Not only with free software or the Unix philosophy but around everything else. It seems like people can handle less and less discrepancies.

I'd say: keep the right balance and think about what's your intention and why is it your intention.


(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: If shit hits the fan, I want the option to maintain my own fork of the software. Additionally, I care about privacy and think free software is the only way to go with that so you can verify what programs are doing in the background.
(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: This also extends to if I care about using Linux-libre or another deblobbed kernel or if I'm satisfied with what ships with whatever distribution I pick like Void Linux or Arch even with using a completely free system like my future X200.
(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: however, I don't trust the modified BIOSes that people have written and Coreboot still has some thermal issues which kinda scare me, but maybe they're not as big of a deal.

From that I guess your main issue is one of trust. My personal take on that is to think about it like I think about food and restaurants. Recipes are usually free, some of them are trade secrets that keep businesses running, some tell you the ingredients but not in what quantities. It's nice to have someone hand you some free recipe, it's cool to go to a restaurant and buy food, it's totally weird when people hand out free samples of food because you know it's because it's a marketing scheme.

When software is cheap, not open, and almost free, then you should worry about privacy and trust. I've used Parabola for 3 years, it was fine but I just can't cope with it now because it's not practical for me anymore.

(10-01-2019, 03:47 PM)jkl Wrote: And I honestly don't care about ethics. My computers are tools and I expect them to be good at their designated tasks. I don't really care how.
(10-01-2019, 05:14 PM)d9a Wrote: I care about the ethics because I don't want my software compromising me because I decided to trust it.

jkl is right, computers are tools. Unless you want to make a political statement out of it or go full paranoia. But in that case maybe even open source software is not enough.

As for the Unix philosophy, in my opinion it should be taken as a development methodology only. Many take it a bit too far and it goes against it's own purpose. Similar to taking TDD to the extremes or wanting strict functional programming, those can be quite limiting and not fit all cases.

(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: Other philosophy I really care about is the Unix philosophy of a program doing one thing and doing it really well. I think it makes it so that programs are easier to understand and extend. It's great how I can combine programs to accomplish things instead of waiting for a feature to be added, etc. I'm also a minimalist, so this follows that I think. If I don't need a feature, I just don't have the package installed.
(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: However, all of that would mean stepping away from the Unix philosophy a bit due to systemd. With Void Linux, the main distro I've been looking at recently, I'd have to either be ok with proprietary blobs in the kernel if I'm not using them or compile Linux-libre myself.
(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: RE: Unix philosophy, I'm trying to figure out if I care enough to not use systemd. I haven't had a point where systemd has really hindered me. With my future X200, it'd probably be beneficial to just use Parabola since it guarantees I won't use proprietary software.

I don't think that if there's one software in a distro that isn't perfectly fitting the concept of Unix philosophy that it should be ditched entirely, that's quite radical. Putting the development technique aside there's a few questions you need to answer: Are you the kind of person that deals a lot with services, which service managers have you used before, have you dealt in depth with systemd and not liked it?

(10-01-2019, 03:47 PM)jkl Wrote: I avoid systemd because of its atrocious security and reliability implications.
(10-01-2019, 05:14 PM)d9a Wrote: Well it appears a few vulnerabilities in systemd were discovered today....
I don't know how this will affect my decision because it'd be no different if it affected the Linux kernel or other piece of software I use on every distribution. It does make me question it more though.

Edit: This vulnerability has pushed me to Void. I'll deal with the learning. These vulnerabilities exist because of sloppy programming.

See here jkl has a real concrete example of why he avoid systemd, the still immaturity of the code base, the security and reliability issues. Others might enjoy it because it's the only service manager that is able to solve their problems.

My personal opinion is that I quite enjoy some of the innovations that systemd is trying however that comes at a cost. I also find the utilities confusing because you have to buy into the whole concept to get it.

(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: It's also smaller than Arch, so there's the potential of it dying or not having a resource I need to fix my system if something happens.

That's the least of your concerns. Set your system such that you have backups and are able to reinstall it on another machine in a matter of hours.

(10-01-2019, 03:17 PM)d9a Wrote: So let's get to the point of this post: I'm trying to determine how much I care about the above philosophies in the end to get stuff done.

What are you trying to get done?
z3bra
Venam's post pretty much said it all (what a wise guy right?).
What I learnt in computing, and travelling across countries with different culture is that being radical over something (philosophy, ideology, religion, whatever) sucks, and is harmful.

Take these philosophies as guidelines that will help you take decisions when you don't know what to do about a particular situation. Otherwise, do what you want!

You find Void more appealing than Parabola because their logo spins on the website? install it, and enjoy it!
Now if you really want to advocate for free software, you can still take the RMS way. Beware though, it's reaaaaaally hard of a path to follow (the guy complains about using ATMs, 'cause he can't see the code..). I personally think it's just not worth it, and I find closed software to be fine most of the time. It is another business model after all, just like venam said about food!
I prefer when I know exactly what I eat, but I don't (always) care if I don't see how the chief cooks.

I now consider "opensource" as a huge plus when I look for a software, but not a hard requirement. Computers are only tools, so worrying about them is pointless.
I only care about me, and wether my data may be leaked. For a wireless firmware, well, I doubt there would be much data to be leaked that ISPs wouldn't have already.

To sum it up, it's all about balance. Take your philosophy like a guideline, and always counter balance it with your brain.
d9a
That's good. That's what I was trying to figure out. My intention is to be able to use my computer and trust it as much as possible. I'm not as extremist as RMS. I need to do stuff like send money via Venmo for rent, get money from ATMs, etc. For me, I guess a lot of it was just reducing how much companies like Google and Microsoft have on me and to be able to have the freedom to change what I want when I want. There's both practical and moral benefits to free software imo. For Unix, that's purely from a functionality standpoint. I think programs are easier to understand when they only do one thing well.

For systemd, I didn't realize the security issues it had until yesterday because I thought the main problem people had with it security-wise was the fact that every distro pretty much had it. That wasn't a big deal to me because every distro has X, Linux, etc. so the init system didn't really matter. I still don't understand the security problems it could still possibly have, but yesterday showed that they are sloppy programmers.

Thanks for bearing with me. I'm still figuring stuff out.
evbo
I agree with jkl, computers are tools. I don't mind using proprietary software, but only after I try to find (or create) a free alternative that fits the bill. Evaluation of free choices is important, for instance I agree with jkl's assessment of systemd and as such avoid it on my Linux machine.

Another one that makes it tough is family/friends and interfacing with them. My goto example is that I gave up trying to convince my friends to use Matrix/Riot and joined them on Discord. I'll be the first to grumble about "proprietary this" and "user tracking that" but sometimes you have to make the efficient choice. Then again, I refuse to use social media so there's some balance the other way. I guess everyone is a bit hypocritical :)

I'm sure rms would club me with a chair for that opinion, but to each their own.
zge
My position is probably the opposite of what most people said here: I don't value the (so called) "unix philosophy" but I think that free software is very important. Over the last few years I've been more and more disgruntled with "unix style" programs, preferring integration over modularity, features/abilities over "simplicity". But that's a more complicated and less interesting topic.

Software freedom, on the other hand, I think can't be reduced to what z3bra said:

(11-01-2019, 04:47 AM)z3bra Wrote: I now consider "opensource" as a huge plus when I look for a software, but not a hard requirement. Computers are only tools, so worrying about them is pointless.

Since computers are "only" tools, you should care who controls them, who has access and what it can affect. "Closed Source" software is an absurdity, historically speaking, limiting the rights and the abilities of the user. It also promotes a "class-thinking" in the word of computing, that of the programmers and non-programmers. This line should be fluid, the programmer shouldn't have to hide his/her "secrets" from the user, just as the user shouldn't be afraid to ever use a non-gui interface, or dare I say "program"!

Sadly I still use very little proprietary software, on my Laptop it's the wifi-driver, and from time to time teamspeak (which I hate, but my friends accept) and on my phone WhatsApp (which is the standard messaging system in Germany, sadly). There is no doubt that if I could replace these, that I would.

These three podcast episodes pushed me to a harder line on these issues, even though I was already strongly for Free Software before too: https://librelounge.org/episodes/episode...tware.html, https://librelounge.org/episodes/episode...usion.html, https://librelounge.org/episodes/episode...vancy.html maybe they can should others a different perspective too, other than what I'd like to call "false pragmatism".

---

And an obligatory note, I always need to add: Most of these issues of these aren't Philosophies or Ideologies. The "unix philosophy" is more of a best practices (within a unix system, that's superfluous anyways). "Open Source" is a business plan, while "Free Software" probably comes closest to being part of a Philosophy, albeit not being a ideology (comprehensive world view). And as always, there's nothing worse than eclecticism. But that's just nitpicking.




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