Computer & Internet

How Linux Helped Me Become an Empowered Computer User

If you happen to have been to ask any of my pals, they may readily attest to my profound ardour for Linux. That mentioned, it would shock you to know that hardly two years in the past, I barely knew what Linux was, not to mention had any earnest curiosity in switching to it from Home windows.

Though a shift as dramatic as this may increasingly appear astonishing when thought-about in hindsight, analyzing my path from one push or affect to the subsequent paints a extra telling image. It’s with this method that I need to share my story of how I got here to not solely use, however certainly champion, the Linux desktop.

My Safety Awakening

Earlier than embarking on my journey two years in the past, I used to be simply an abnormal Home windows person. Whereas I used to be principally competent and tried to maintain abreast of mainstream tech information, I had an unremarkable information of computer systems.

My angle rapidly started to vary in mild of the reporting on the intelligence packages of the Nationwide Safety Company in the summertime of 2013. The breadth of the net monitoring Edward Snowden revealed was unsettling, nevertheless it additionally underscored simply how little most of us do — and even know learn how to do — to safeguard our personal privateness.

Whereas earlier than I beforehand gave no explicit consideration to computer systems or their function in my private affairs, I got here to appreciate the important significance of taking management of 1’s digital life, and of the gadgets that energy it.

The logical subsequent step was to find out precisely learn how to go about it. Although my aim appeared logical, attaining it might not be easy. Over the subsequent few months I devoted my free time to scouring the Web for guides on deploying privateness protections, encryption, and some other strategies that would defend me.

Specialists will inform you that in case you’re making an attempt to evade intelligence companies, it is best to quit. But those self same consultants will inform you that your solely recourse for resisting even a fraction of state surveillance — and a good proportion of monitoring by lesser companies extra more likely to goal abnormal folks — is to make use of open supply software program. Linux, I quickly discovered, was chief amongst these software program choices.

Proprietary vs. Open Supply

Upon additional research, I turned conversant in simply what was so particular about open supply software program. The lion’s share of the software program we use day by day — from chat shoppers to working methods, together with Home windows — is the other of open supply software program: It is proprietary.

When Microsoft builders work on Home windows, for instance, they write the supply code in some programming language and flow into this code solely amongst their workforce. Once they’re able to launch the software program, they compile it, changing it from human-readable code into the 1s and 0s that computer systems must run it, however which even essentially the most good people battle to reverse-engineer to authentic supply code.

With this mannequin, the one individuals who know for certain precisely what the software program does, or whether or not it surreptitiously undermines or screens its customers, are the individuals who wrote it.

Open supply software program, although, is launched to the general public in its supply code kind, together with downloadable binary packages for set up. Whether or not or not each particular person person is able to studying the supply code to evaluate its safety and privateness, the truth that it’s public signifies that these with sufficient technical chops are free to take action, and so they can notify customers if this system incorporates hidden malicious processes or inadvertently buggy ones.

After thorough analysis, it turned clear that the one working system that would assure my privateness and autonomy as a person was one which supplied the transparency of the open supply philosophy. The one educated pals and privateness advocates advisable most was Linux. I used to be able to endure a tough transition if I needed to, however my conviction within the significance of privateness gave me the boldness to attempt.

Child Steps

Though my resolve to change to Linux was quick, the method of migrating to it was gradual. I began by putting in Ubuntu — an simply configured and beginner-friendly Linux distribution — to run side-by-side with the prevailing Home windows set up on my getting older laptop computer.

By having the ability to select Ubuntu or Home windows every time I booted up my pc, I used to be capable of finding my footing on Linux whereas preserving the acquainted refuge of Home windows in case the previous was lacking direly wanted performance.

Because it turned out, a fatally corrupted arduous drive prevented me from having fun with this setup for lengthy, however I took that as an alternative to pick a brand new laptop computer with Linux in thoughts. As its customary Intel set of processors, graphic playing cards, and wi-fi adapters work properly with Linux’s drivers, I went with a Lenovo ThinkPad.

I made a recent begin, fully wiping Home windows from my new machine in favor of Debian, a broadly appropriate and secure distribution on which Ubuntu is predicated. Greater than merely surviving with out the acquainted Home windows security web, I thrived. I used to be quickly immersing myself within the beforehand mysterious command line world.

After I had a yr of working with Linux below my belt, I took one other plunge and put in Arch Linux, which requires a considerably extra advanced handbook person set up course of, with full disk encryption. That evening putting in Arch, with a Linux veteran supervising, marked one of many proudest accomplishments in my life.

I had my share of challenges alongside the best way — generally purposes that labored seamlessly on Home windows required laborious additional steps or lacking drivers wanted set up — however I surmounted them or sidestepped them and continued to determine Linux at my very own tempo.

Full Steam Forward

So far as I had come, it was then that I actually began to study. I took up Linux to harness the ability of my pc and make sure that it labored for me, however what saved me engaged was the liberty of modification and personalization that it supplied.

As an open supply OS, Linux is infinitely open to customization. Though I initially anticipated to spend my time studying up on safety practices (which I very a lot nonetheless do), I additionally discovered myself digging deep into configuration panels and laying out all the colours, icons and menus simply so.

It took some getting used to, however the extra I threw myself into one thing new, the extra assured — and curious — I turned.

Just a little over two years since setting out down this highway, I’ve by no means felt extra at house on my pc than I do right this moment. I could not personalize Home windows the best way I wished it, and from what I’ve realized from the open supply group, I could not totally belief it, both.

What was as soon as merely a chunk of {hardware} I owned is now one thing I’ve an in depth connection to — not not like the connection a journalist has to her pocket book or a violinist to her instrument.

I even discover myself lamenting the truth that my telephone isn’t as amenable to true Linux as my laptop computer and questioning what I can do about that. Within the meantime, although, I’ll hold tinkering away on my Arch system, discovering new corners and exploring new potentialities every time the prospect arises.
How Linux Helped Me Become an Empowered Computer User


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