Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

22 Nov 2019

Fighting systems from the inside

There’s always a disagreement between those who think it’s better to fight the system from the inside and those who say it’s better to oppose it totally. Some are total conscientious objectors and others, in the Israeli context for example, say that it’s better for humane soldiers to control the checkpoints than racist bastards with no respect for Palestinian lives. The usual contra-argument is that the system corrupts; that it isn’t really possible to maintain humane values within a framework that is toxic.

I was thinking of this with my recent compromises around computers and phones. I didn’t manage, till now, to buy a phone that runs on free software. So, instead, when I purchased a new Samsung A10, I refrained from logging into Google (which means I can’t use the Google Play app store directly), or registering the phone and logging into Samsung’s systems for that matter. Instead, all my apps are from F-Droid, and that’s fine with me.

Then, on my Kobo e-reader, I found some free open-source software that allows me to read without Kobo’s annoying home screen, interface and all the ads butting in. The machine works a lot better like this. All my books are pirated (the older ones de-DRMed), but, in the case of living authors, I buy printed versions of their books so that they get paid. That way, I can also share their books with friends.

Now, on my desktop, I have MS Windows installed – that’s because of an arrangement that I made with my son – I may end up giving him the computer back at some point. But I don’t use any non-free programs other than XN-View sometimes, which is free but not Libre, and Google Drive, which I need for the office. Everything else is free open-source. I don’t like MS Windows, but I’ve managed to neutralize most of its annoyances. I might get rid of it soon and install MX or Debian with Gnome. I just need to see if Gnome manages Google Drive successfully – on my previous computer that was painfully slow.

Anyway, with all these options, I feel like I’m fighting the system from the inside. Despite everything, I should probably be using a Fairphone with the Google-free option, an Onyx reader (perhaps) and a System76 computer running under Debian. But even if I could afford all these options, I would probably fall down in other ways, because it is the toxic framework of our money-based capitalism that is the real operating system.

It may be hackable, but only to a certain degree.

Tags: technology
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