First day of a new contract today. After spending 6 months completely away from the Windows platform (95% Linux, 5% Mac OS), today I returned : full Windows stack. Yikes! I almost puked on my keyboard.
I never understood why some technical people were so opinionated about some technologies. When faced to the guru kind who would praise the benefits of free software, to the point of jumping on a table to majestically lecture everybody with a 3h monologue, I used to say “Come on it’s just a tool, no big deal”. Well, it seems that I have changed a lot since then. Meeting with the Windows platform again really made me nauseous. Not because I can’t do command line or because I can’t find my programs and files. But because it reminds me of the setting I’m in. It’s a fully controlled environment that I can hardly customize for myself, that I can’t make home, indeed I’m obviously at work. It’s a good indicator that #1 I’m not in a creative setting #2 I’m not in a technically interesting environment #3 something boring is going on #4 it’s the real world. It feels like being in a cage.
I realize that over the years I have learned better, I have learned and understood software freedom. In truth, unexpectedly I got used to the Linux platform. Whenever I didn’t find my way, I could easily find help in the community by myself, or in the worst case scenario I could create the tool I needed to get back on my feet. With Windows I need to call the helpdesk, and most of the time, the line is busy. Now I understand the strong opinions. It’s just about being free of doing what you want in your environment and not be babysitted. I even surprised myself by enjoying more Ubuntu than Mac OS. WTC ? – what the coconut. Mac OS is fine, and it’s a good indicator that you’re doing something creative or you’re progressing on your personal projects, but there is still someone trying to control what you’re doing in the background. It’s not home. It’s rented.
Of course, real freedom is risky. It means that you can get a gun and shoot everyone and/or yourself if you want. That’s why real freedom is hardly achievable, it only benefits responsible and well-intentioned people. So I can’t blame systems that try to protect users. But I’m beginning to understand the real value of freedom, it’s what you need to expand and make stuff. In technology that’s what we intend when we say “it’s open”, it means it’s made to be expansible, so that others can build on top of it and make it evolve. Beautiful principle.
This was the philosophical note of the day. I honestly felt sick all day. I don’t know if it was really Windows, but this morning after waking up from a dream of eating a giant ice cream cake, I also felt nauseous. Maybe seeing Windows all over again was too much to handle. One more case for the Software Therapist.