Free (as in freedom) software | 2023 Feb 19-25

Another PR merged, did some review, went down a rabbit hole on GNU/Linux and finally caught up on Taproot a bit.

Free (as in freedom) software!

I’ve made this list of things I should eventually get around to in order to increase my security or privacy and decrease my reliance on trusted centralized services. One of these things is to create and secure PGP keys. I figured it’s probably best to do this on Linux because it’s open source software, which led me down a rabbit hole of GNU/Linux, which led me to learn a lot about GNU and the free software movement.

I’m quite young still, and so my exposure to programming and computing has mainly been composed of mainstream culture surrounding computing, and in recent years, through the Bitcoin community. I’d only been exposed to ideas of open-source, privacy, and decentralization through crypto and Bitcoin, so I hadn’t really thought about or realized how long this lineage of ideas has been existing. It was cool to learn about the free software movement, and how it was the catalyst for GNU/Linux, the operating system now running on the majority of computing devices today.

Living in the United States, I live a very free life. I feel like I am in control of the way I live my life pretty much as much as I would want. But with this freedom, what then influences my actions? The people around me, my personal values/beliefs, society broadly, but importantly, these things are all influenced by our exposure to information. And our exposure to information is mostly interfaced through computers, computers running software.

I think one example recently really struck me as to how much my life is influenced by the software I use.

I recently switched text editors because of a YouTube video. In the grand scheme of my life sure this is a marginal difference, but in the past couple of months, learning and exploring my new editors has been a non-negligible portion of my time. All because certain videos happened to be surfaced. I’d imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to identify others with similar demographics and/or YouTube histories as mine, and surface the same videos, and all of a sudden thousands of people, if not more, have been manipulated to do a very specific action. Would you call these people free? When’s the last time you’ve done something as a result of the software you use?

From this perspective, it makes a lot of sense to me that people should be able to see the source code of the software they run, and be able to change it as they so please. The vast majority of people will never look at the source code, but the fact that people can, and that some people will, can lead to computer users being more in control of their software and therefore their lives.

Anyway, this has had me considering trying out linux. I don’t really think it’s worth it for me to get another machine for a while, so my only choice would be to use Asahi linux on my M1 mac, however it’s kind of intimidating because it’s basically Arch linux which I would have to assemble all myself, also it’s still in alpha. I’ll wait a bit.


I’m at this weird spot with code review where I feel like I’m skilled enough to be able to answer a vast majority of my own questions, but not skilled enough to suggest helpful changes. And even though the exercise of review is still very helpful, it still takes me quite a while to review, and it feels lame that I don’t have much to add.

But I think this just is what it is. As long as I continue actively learning alongside contributing, I’ll get better. I realize say some variation of this every one or two weeks lol.