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I use a Lemote machine which has a free initialization program and a free operating system. One other advantage of this machine is that Windows has never supported it.
I do not have a preferred GNU/Linux distro. I recommend all the
I've chosen not to have any preferences among those ethical distros.
But I am not in a position to judge them on other criteria:
even to try them all would be a lot work that I have no need to do.
I've chosen not to have any preferences among those ethical distros. But I am not in a position to judge them on other criteria: even to try them all would be a lot work that I have no need to do.
I formerly used an OLPC. I stopped because the OLPC project made their machine act as a platform for running Windows, so I did not want to appear to endorse it. However, it seems that the results I worried about, millions of children running Windows on the OLPC, have not occurred.
I occasionally use X11 for tasks that need graphics, but mostly I use a text console. I find that the text console is more efficient for the bulk of the work I do, which is editing text.
I spend most of my time editing in Emacs. I read and send mail with Emacs using M-x rmail and C-x m. I have no experience with any other email client programs. In principle I would be glad to know about other free email clients, but learning about them is not a priority for me and I don't have time.
This site is maintained in a very simple way. I edit the pages such as this one manually as HTML. I only know simple HTML; others who know more wrote the parts at the top and bottom of pages, and the more complex formatting on the home page. Volunteer helpers install the political notes every day after receiving the text from me by email. A cron job "rolls over" the political notes page every two months.
I never used Unix (not even for a minute) until after I decided to develop a free replacement for it (the GNU system). I chose that design to follow because it was portable and seemed fairly clean. I was never a fan of Unix; I had some criticisms of it too. But it was ok overall as a model.
Why I coined the name POSIX.
I have several free web browsers on my laptop, but I generally do not look at web sites from my own machine, aside from a few sites operated for or by the GNU Project, FSF or me. I fetch web pages from other sites by sending mail to a program (see git://git.gnu.org/womb/hacks.git) that fetches them, much like wget, and then mails them back to me. Then I look at them using a web browser, unless it is easy to see the text in the HTML page directly.
The most powerful programming language is Lisp. If you don't know Lisp (or its variant, Scheme), you don't know what it means for a programming language to be powerful and elegant. Once you learn Lisp, you will understand what is lacking in most other languages.
When you start a Lisp system, it enters a read-eval-print loop. Most other languages have nothing comparable to read, nothing comparable to eval, and nothing comparable to print. What gaping deficiencies!
Lisp is no harder to understand than other languages. So if you have never learned to program, and you want to start, start with Lisp. If you learn to edit with Emacs, you can learn Lisp by writing editing commands for Emacs. You can use the Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp to learn with: it is free as in freedom, and you can order printed copies from the FSF.
To study Scheme, and a deep understanding of program structures using Scheme as a vehicle, I recommend Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Abelson and Sussman. This too is now free as in freedom.
My favorite programming languages are Lisp and C. However, since around 1992 I have worked mainly on free software activism, which means I am too busy to do much programming. Around 2008 I stopped doing programming projects. As a result, I have not had time or occasion to learn newer languages such as Perl, Python, PHP or Ruby.
I read a book about Java, and found it an elegant further development from C. But I have never used it. I did write some code in Java once, but that was the island in Indonesia; the code was in C and lisp.
By contrast, I find C++ quite ugly.
I skimmed documentation of Python after people told me it was fundamentally similar to Lisp. My conclusion is that that is not so. When you start Lisp, it does `read', `eval', and `print', all of which are missing in Python.
I firmly refuse to install non-free software or tolerate its installed presence on my computer or on computers set up for me.
However, if I am visiting somewhere and the machines available nearby happen to contain non-free software, through no doing of mine, I don't refuse to touch them. I will use them briefly for tasks such as browsing. This limited usage doesn't give my assent to the software's license, or make me responsible its being present in the computer, or make me the possessor of a copy of it, so I don't see an ethical obligation to refrain from this. Of course, I explain to the local people why they should migrate the machines to free software, but I don't push them hard, because annoying them is not the way to convince them.
Likewise, I don't need to worry about what software is in a kiosk, pay phone, or ATM that I am using. I hope their owners migrate them to free software, for their sake, but there's no need for me to refuse to touch them until then. (I do consider what those machines and their owners might do with my personal data, but that's a different issue, which would arise just the same even if they did use free software. My response to that issue is to minimize those activities which give them any data about me.)
That reasoning is based on the fact that I was not responsible for setting up those machines, or for how that was done. By contrast, if I were to ask or lead someone to set up a computer for me to use, that would make me ethically responsible for its software load. In such a case I insist on free software, just as if the machine were mine.
As for microwave ovens and other appliances, if updating software is not a normal part of use of the device, then it is not a computer. In that case, I think the user need not take cognizance of whether the device contains a processor and software, or is built some other way. However, if it has an "update firmware" button, that means installing software is a normal part of use, so it is a computer.
Skype is another kind of exception. Using Skype to talk with someone else who is using Skype is encouraging the other to use nonfree software. So I won't use it under any circumstances.
I sometimes use Google's search engine, and I sometimes use DuckDuckGo. When I use a search engine, it is always from a machine that isn't mine and that other people also use. I never identify myself to the site, of course.
I do not use social networking sites. They are inherently inconvenient for me. That doesn't mean I think they are all unethical. Some are, some are not. Social networking sites raise their own set of ethical issues, completely different from the ethical issues of distributing software (free vs proprietary).
I have a Twitter account called rmspostcomments, which I use to log in on other sites to post comments on articles. I never post on Twitter. Someone made an account stallman_feed which I'm told posts something about my political notes. Any other Twitter account that claims to be mine is an impostor.
The rms account on identi.ca repeats the political notes from this site, but I do not post on it directly.
Aside from those two, any account on a social networking site that says it is mine is an impostor.
I do not post on 4chan. I have nothing against it, and I have occasionally answered questions for interviews for 4chan, but any account there that says it is me is an impostor.
I reject Facebook and Google+ on principle because they require people to give their "real names". I am proud to identify myself when stating my views; I can afford to do that because I am in a fairly safe position. There are people who rationally fear reprisals (from employers, gangsters, bullies, or the state) if they state their views. For their sake, let's reject any social networking site which insists on being told a user's real name.
Google+ offers to hide the user's real name, but demands people prove an "established identity" or provide ID. I am suspicious of this requirement, since it can't hide the user's real name from the US government, which has a policy of prosecuting journalists as "spies".
Some impostor created a Faceook account using my name. The page is not mine. The Google+ account using my name is also not mine.
Last I heard, Gmail was satisfactory on issue 1, and probably so are many others. On issue 2, I have no way to verify that any email service is satisfactory. Therefore, I have no recommendation to offer.
However, I can suggest that it may be wise to use an email service that is not connected with your search engine. That way you can be almost sure that your email contents don't influence your search results. You shouldn't identify yourself to your search engine in any case.
Every product with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is an attack on your freedom.
Therefore, one should not buy or tolerate any product with DRM handcuffs unless one personally possesses the means to break the handcuffs. For instance, don't use encrypted DVDs unless you play them using DeCSS or another comparable free program. And never use a Bluray disk unless you find a way to break its handcuffs.
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