In late 2012 I decided to make the jump to free software and began using Linux as my primary operating system. I did it mostly for political reasons, wanting to tend a little patch beyond the reach of Microsoft's cold corporate shadow. At the time, I was sure the user experience would be so unsatisfying that my resolve would shrivel and I would run back to Windows with my tail between my legs.
It has been a truly delightful voyage. I have learned an incredible amount about how software, hardware, programming, networking, servers, email, filesystems (and more) work, and I have quicky come to realize how totally wrong I was about Linux. It is stable, easy to use, and really good-looking. These days, when I find myself in a Windows environment for some reason, I am bemused: at how unpolished and clunky it looks, at how leaden its user experience is. And I laugh at myself for thinking I couldn't live without it.
In August 2015, I began a second, less headlong, leap, from Linux to BSD. Linux is currently being gravely threatened by the introduction of systemd, a software complex that aims at integrating and standardizing the linux ecosystem so that it can be more tightly controlled and valorized by corporations (Red Hat is the prime mover). Some linux distros have held out (Gentoo, Slackware), but most have succumbed to systemd, at least for the time being. While this struggle plays out, I have several irons in the fire. I am monitoring (and rooting for) the emergence of Devuan, a distro currently in alpha release whose purpose is to be as close as possible to Debian, but without systemd. If Devuan is successful, it will help keep linux self-managed, free, and free of corporate control. While Devuan develops, I am also running a linux laptop (Slackware), and I have moved my desktops over to BSD (specifically FreeBSD).
Update (October 2015): while I enjoyed my experience with BSD in some ways, in other ways it was not the right fit for my machines and my home internet. It was not the smoothest experience. So I have moved the desktops back over to Linux, to a distro called Manjaro (based on Arch) that offers a non-systemd variant running an init system called OpenRC. So far it is going pretty well!
Here's my setup:
- Operating System: Manjaro Linux 0.9.0 with OpenRC (Desktops)
- Operating System: Slackware Linux 14.1 (Laptop)
- Tiling Window Manager: Awesome 3.5.6
- Floating Window Manager: Fluxbox
- Terminal: Xfce4-terminal
- Text Editor: Vim 7.4
- Office Suite: LibreOffice 4.4
- E-mail Client: Mutt and Thunderbird
- Browser: Firefox and/or Chromium
- File Manager: Thunar
- Image Manipulation: Gimp
- IRC Client: Irssi
- Feed Reader: Newsbeuter
- Torrents: rTorrent
- System Info: Conky
- System Monitor: Htop
- Synchronize Files (frees you from Dropbox and its corporate cloud): Syncthing