My Sins As A Linux Advocate & Other News…

My Dearest Mad-Readers,

Being part of a community of enlightened fellows running GNU/Linux as their main desktop operating system is a huge responsibility: Would you not agree? Such a knowledgeable person should always follow a strict set of principles: ban Microsoft from her life, spit on Apple in her idle time, install Arch without a GUI, and absolutely discourage others from using any kind of social networks. Thus is the life of a committed free-software advocate… Is it really, though?

If you read until the end, I promise you a nice twist of events…

The Past Few Months…

My previous blog post goes back to April 10th… I should probably apologize to those of you who eagerly expect my articles each week. I have suffered a serious loss of motivation which is due to several factors:

1. My focus is elsewhere. Learning Italian is what drives me these days and making room for anything else is a real challenge. I must confess that I have completely fallen for this beautiful language: I listen to Italian music, watch Italian movies, play Italian games when they are available, I apply to Italian jobs… You will understand that it is now fully integrated to my lifestyle, just as much as English and French. It has quickly become a huge part of me and I did not expect the process would be so quick. It took me many, many years of studying English to reach a satisfying level and for the language to conquer my heart. With Italian, passion took over as soon as I seriously committed to it… It is a powerful force driving me forward but which does not leave much room for anything else. If you have ever lived a similar experience, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

2. I enjoy giving language lessons on Italki & even independently from any platform. I am still far from making an actual living out of it but it remains an interesting beginning. If you were interested in taking private lessons with me, feel free to contact me via email or send me a DM on Instagram. Since I belong with all these people who make money online, I would like to warn all of you people who might intend to take the risk of doing the same one day: the journey is worth it, but do not naively believe that you will passively and instantly earn a living as all the click-baits on the internet promise you. I have taught on Italki for 4 months and I can tell you firsthand that I am more than happy when I earn more than $100. Then, as a French business owner, I pay taxes on what I earn: 22% of the total, each month… Yes, I know, this is literally stealing… yet this is how it is, and this is the only option I have to teach languages legally and independently.

3. I have to confess that I do not really know where I am heading at the moment, whether it be with my company or in life in general. I do not have a 5-year plan all written down already. I have ideas of what I would like to achieve but, in the end, it is nothing very accurate. This is one of the main reasons why I have been much less active on my blog and YouTube channel these past few months. I want to be original, to have my own voice and not merely repeat what all other content creators say. I am also actively looking for a job as a software developer, since months of applying around for ESL open positions have led me nowhere. This means I need to take time refreshing my JavaScript, HTML 5 & CSS 3 skills. I do it happily, but obviously this takes me even further away from you all. These past few days, I have been actively working on several projects: a portfolio to showcase some front-end projects. It is not yet perfect on mobile, I need to refresh the projects displayed in it and, ideally, I should add some new project which would reflect much more my current level, since I restarted programming in JavaScript only last week. I expected I would have been much rustier but it is coming back rather quickly, thankfully.

My Use Of Technology

Social Networks

For a long time, I was determined to get rid of WhatsApp, the only application still linking me to Facebook, a company I openly despise for what it represents. In my opinion, Facebook is nothing but a scam. You freely send it all your data but you do not get much in return. I fought tooth and nail, removing obsolete contacts, transferring others, always doing my best to convince those willing to listen that there were better alternatives… Today, I feel discouraged, facing this sad truth: Normies are too numerous. The ridiculous 1% of free-software advocates that we are cannot fight off a worldful of people who are so happy to give up on their freedom. Furthermore, I doubt the righteousness of my commitment. Part of me believes that a lot of power-users (or script-kiddies?) only advocate for open-source software to feel superior. Am I wrong?

As a business owner, I also realize that I hardly have a choice. If I wish to be visible enough and promote my ideas and services, I have to be present on online platforms which actually allow me to do so. This is why I have created an account on Instagram. It seriously bothers me, since it means that I am supporting Facebook and social networks in general, but I consider it a necessary sacrifice for the success of my business. I installed Telegram too, on my phone and my computer. In order, not only to test it out, but also to join other groups of people who may help me find students. There is also this sad reality that I am very isolated. Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, it has not been possible to go to social gatherings or to do any kind of social activity. Meeting new people has become a real struggle and being more present online is henceforth inevitable if I wish to keep interacting with others as much as I like.

I have always restrained myself from using social media because I did not want to support them, but also because I consider that we, as human beings, should not have such powerful tools in our hands. They are too powerful for us to use responsibly. Today, I believe more that each of us should do its best to use them responsibly. They unfortunately are here to stay and can actually be helpful, so this is our duty to make them healthier. This also concerns technology in general. Imagine how fantastic the world would be if modern parents stopped behaving like sheep for one second and did not put a smartphone in their 2-year-old’s hands just to buy a moment of quiet… A revolution starts with steps as small as this one, people, so wake up and take the small steps which will make our planet a better place. Please.

My Relationship With Microsoft

I am seriously considering purchasing a more powerful PC with Windows on it in order to play games without any hustle. You know what? I must say that I actually like Windows 11’s new UX. I cannot say I am thrilled with the idea that everything is moving to the cloud, on the contrary, but I am happy to see that Microsoft has made some progress in terms of UX.

Windows’ new desktop environment looks much less crowded and much more customizable. I actually look forward to trying it. It has taken them years to understand that their menu was a bloated mess and that dark themes could actually be more comfortable for people’s eyes, but well… we all learn at different paces, right?

I suppose I am no longer exclusively a Linux fanboy. I suppose that my relationship with computers has grown more mature, more realistic. I still love Linux, do not get me wrong, but I have accepted this simple truth:

Tools are what we make of them, not the other way around.

We are the users, and as long as this simple fact remains true, as long as it is not the other way around, we should be able to use whatever software we prefer. If Windows is more suited to your needs, there is nothing wrong in using it. Nothing.

What About The Surprise?

As promised, here is the last surprise of this post: I have decided to switch away from Gentoo… and try out Ubuntu.

Yes. You have read well.

No, this is not a joke.

You all know how the power-user community can be toxic, how satisfying it can be to show your superiority with 2 floating windows on r/unixporn when you have been running Manjaro & i3 for 3 days… Installing Ubuntu has been liberating for me. I no longer have anything to prove after my switch from Arch to Gentoo and I am proud I seized this opportunity to learn some more. Indeed, I had never run Ubuntu before. My only experience with a Debian-based distribution was on Linux Mint, so all criticism I made of it was not firsthand. From now on, you will have the guarantee that you are reading my actual opinion of Ubuntu when browsing my blog.

I first installed Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Long Term Support), about a month ago. It was extremely stable (too stable for me) and it was also a pain to install certain software (such as Emacs 27), so I upgraded to Ubuntu 20.10, and the following day to Ubuntu 21.04. Now most of my Steam games work on my machine, even though it is a ThinkPad T440 with only a default graphics card. I expect my version of proton was too old when I used Gentoo. For this, I am to blame, since I did not spend enough time to fix the issue. Here is a quick list of games I managed to launch with Steam Play:

I would add Anno 1404 and Spore to this list but my computer screen turns black after launching them, which can only mean one of 2 things:

  1. I am too incompetent to make them work. #Likely
  2. My PC’s graphics card is not powerful enough. #EvenMoreLikely

You will understand that the second option sounds sweeter to me. I would happily be proven wrong, however, since I cannot afford to purchase a new machine yet.


Regarding my current window manager, I am still running Awesome WM. DWM belongs in my past, I am very content with Awesome. Very. It is extremely customizable and does its job fantastically. Here are some pictures:

For those of you who would be willing to test Awesome WM out, I recommend you check out this repository. and the official website. Indeed, the battery widget does not come by default and it is very likely you will miss it in your bar, especially if you come from a desktop environment. Regarding the wallpapers in the screenshots, they mostly come from a website called wallhaven.cc. As for the characters, you may have recognized Fate Stay Night. If you have not, I strongly recommend this anime to you.

By the way, I would advise against replacing the default awesome bar with polybar or any other bar. I tried and it resulted in a lot of pain. Here is how I managed to make it look, but there were many imperfections, mostly related to window borders and I had to do some fishy business to obtain this design. You cannot see it in the screenshot below but I had to add an empty awesome bar below polybar so that it would handle borders and gaps properly. If you look at my configuration files, you will also note that I added each tag (from 1 to 9) manually and I did not have the patience to code a proper widget in Lua to make a difference between active and inactive workspaces.

Sign Off

If you wish to know more about these recent decisions, keep following me. I might write another post to describe my experience with snaps and the satisfaction of getting (almost) everything to work with a simple sudo apt install [$package_name], or even worse, a click in Gnome DE. I insist on might, since I cannot promise I will write yet another tutorial about such an old topic.

If you know anyone who would be interested in taking French or English lessons, do not hesitate to tell them about me. I could surely help them out. As usual, my email is on my about page. If you are interested, I recently updated said about page, which means you may now follow me on YouTube, GitHub, Goodreads, Odyssee, but also Instagram. If you wish to message me there and have a constructive conversation, feel free to do so! 🙂

Cheers,

Phil.