Non-free or Objectionable Software and Services I Don’t Use
I’ve added this page to provide a list of some specific non-free software, and related hardware, I personally have chosen not to use, and explanations of what workarounds or sacrifices I had to make in the progress. I do not list this information to brag — I have made compromises with non-free software from time to time — but mainly as an educational tool for others to avoid non-free software.
Since most banking is expected to be done “online” these days, this definitely causes some inconveniences. AlaskaUSA has shutdown most of their conveniently-accessible branch offices for in-person transactions. I receive paper statements, but often need to call-in to the bank in order to do money transfers. Money transfers over the phone are rather inconvenient as they take a while to explain, and also the tellers ask you many security questions each time, but it is doable.
I keep track of my account transactions using GnuCash. This works well enough for the most part, though I have to compare everything with the printed statements in order to avoid mistakes.
In the past, there was a service called Firefox Send which I was mostly happy with, but unfortunately the service was shutdown.
I have heard of some free software replacements for this that I could run from my home network, but I have not had time yet to set one up. My Gemini server could in principle be used to share files with those willing to download a Gemini browser or CLI.
For programming the AVR microchips, I have relied entirely on the AVR-GCC toolchain as well as the avrdude programmer utility.
This has caused me difficulty in one area, as I am fond of the FlashForth firmware which is available for AVR. FlashForth itself is free software but is dependent on the proprietary XC-8 compiler and MPLAB. I have been working on-and-off to get FlashForth to compile using only AVR-GCC, but am still having some issues, so I have been forced to use the pre-compiled FlashForth binaries for now.
Proprietary Video Conferencing
I have, to date, never been involved in a Zoom video conference and hopefully will never be forced to do so. Thankfully this is not required for my job position, though I see there is lots of pressure for other people to use Zoom.
In past jobs, I was invited frequently to GoToMeeting and similar services. But I would join the conference instead using the dial-in phone number.
Android Smart Phones and Tablets
Personally, I do not carry a smart phone, due to various concerns about the hardware and software in Smart Phones, and some practical issues:
- Nearly all Smart Phones require proprietary drivers
- Planned hardware obsolescence
- Privacy concerns inherent to cellular tracking and modem design
- Pressure for people with Smart Phones to install non-free “apps”
- Pressure for people with Smart Phones to blur work and personal life
I’m not in-principle against the idea of an Android tablet, but my past experience with them has been that the tablet always makes use of a non-mainline Linux kernel with some non-free binary blobs snuck in. I would also rather have a tablet running a GNU operating system rather than Android.
I will not use Amazon Alexa, or similar AI assistants, that run proprietary firmware or that depend on sending your communications and data back to a company I don’t trust.
I have heard of the Mycroft project as an alternative, but I have not played around with it yet, due to limited time, money, and interest.
Logos Bible Software and Other Non-Free Bible Study Software
I am an aspiring student of the Biblical languages, but I do not use any Bible study software, since the usual recommended resources are proprietary software. I have used Xiphos in the past but unfortunately there is not currently a package available for Guix Gnu/Linux. I started to package it myself once but got mired too deep in packaging the dependencies and didn’t get around to finishing it.
I currently study entirely from books, except for some Internet documents I have downloaded such as grammar cheat sheets.
In past years, I have done my taxes with paper forms. Recently I started using a walk-in tax filing service, where I just hand the standard forms off to a tax professional. I’m sure the tax professional is using proprietary software, which is unfortunate, but the pain and time of filling out the paper forms had become more than I could handle now that I have a family that keeps me busy.
I mail in paper applications. This is not hard, except that it is inconvenient to make a trip downtown to get the paper forms.
I don’t use GitHub due to their “F” rating on the GNU Ethical Repository Criteria Evaluations page, and also the news that they were bought out by Microsoft.
I don’t use the Slack collaboration platform since it is proprietary.
I am active in IRC chat rooms, using the Emacs Rcirc client. Since the freenode split occurred, I have been using the libera.chat network.