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2019-12-14 - Let's blog… and get back to FOSS

According to archive.org I've had a web site reachable at trudgian.net since January 2002, which is, surprisingly, nearly 18 years ago now. In all that time I've never managed to really post interesting, or even uninteresting things, for a sustained period of time. The last flurry of more than 1 blog post was in 2015 (see below!).

Through 2019 I've changed quite a bit how I use computers and the internet for personal needs, hobbies, and leisure. I've committed to using community supported and self-hosted services where possible, and to start financially contributing to organisations, projects, and possibly individuals, who make possible the privacy-respecting open-source software and services I use.

Looking back, I became interested in Linux around 1999 when I started to learn a lot about free and open-source software and the communities that produced it. Throughout my BSc and PhD studies I was a FOSS enthusiast, and a bit of a free software idealist. Heading out into the world of work (as an academic bioinformatician) I was actually less engaged in FOSS, as the area I worked in relied heavily on proprietary instrument control and analysis software. I drifted away from being a devout FOSS user/supporter until I side-stepped from academic biomedical research into high-performance computing 5 years ago, when I gradually regained interest.

Things have changed since I first installed SuSE Linux from a magazine cover CD in 1999 and puzzled at early versions of YaST and the confusing (coming from Windows) fvwm. Free and open-source software is much more commonly used, but much of it is now very corporate rather than community driven - even if it masquerades as community led. There seem to be far fewer interesting and unique web sites on the internet that are written and hosted by individuals. Most content is now posted in corporate controlled locations, and tangled in the advertising and tracking that are needed to make money for those who run the sites, and their investors.

There's now a growing interest in returning to a more decentralized web, plus increasing push-back against privacy invading web tracking as well as telemetry in applications. My own interest in FOSS is now stronger than ever, as it seems the best way to deliver software and services that generally respect users. I'm not fundamentally against all closed-source paid-for software, but today's ad-focused business models and endless headlines about data leaks and tracking make it hard to trust things that aren't open to inspection.

In the spirit of all of this I've decided I'm going to try and write something here at least every two weeks. Maybe I can build up my very own patch of boring nonsense, rather than just posting things elsewhere and getting tracked for the privilege :-) I'm inspired a bit by Drew DeVault's Make a Blog, where he's trying to encourage this by offering $20 to people who start a tech blog, and keep it up. I don't think I'm eligible… as this is an existing blog rebooted… but if you are toying with the idea, why not try it?

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