Part of seeking freedom from oppression is seeking freedom through the tech that we use. As we have discussed on the show before, there are a number of free software projects out there that can help a user retain their own freedom from the oppression by mega tech corporations. Hopefully this helps someone out there with their endeavors in this world.
An operating system is a set of software that aids the user in their computing tasks. Below are recommendations of Anarcho Book Club based on their simplicity and freedom respectability. You will notice that most of them use Linux as their base, but don't be confused; Linux is not the operating system, it is merely the kernel, the underlying code that allows the user to interface with the hardware. The Operating System is merely the set of software that allows the user to be productive. Some are easy to use, while others offer a little more of a challenge. If you have any questions, feel free to email the club or send us a message on Mastodon. The goal of these guides is not to cherry pick those that I like best, but to give you a look at the systems that you could be using as an alternative to the systems that continually spy on you and attempt to control you.
Alpine Linux[website] is, by far, my very favorite for more advanced uses as well as for its simplicity. It's initial interface is a simple TTY terminal, but that can be remedied very easily for the user that prefers/requires a Graphical User Interface (GUI). I personally prefer the Mate interface for its clean simplicity and very traditional, straightforward design. In this we will walk through a basic guide on how to install Alpine Linux and a few basic programs that you may want.
If you are looking for an Operating System that has everything to offer, Slackware is for you. It gets its name from the great Church of the SubGenius. It boasts a 9 gigabyte install, which includes almost every piece of software a basic user could ever want. It is also, by far, one of the most stable Linux Operating Systems out there. On the stable release channel, the user should only expect security updates and some basic bigfixes to the existing software, but more than likely, with this OS, your system will not break from updates in any way. This is by far my very favorite production ready OS. In this guide, I'll show you have to setup a basic Slackware system and get you up and running in no time, freeing your computer of the buggy and bloated Windows OS.
Easy street has never looked so good. With elementaryOS you have the easiest setup of all, including a number of features like a dedicated software manager calls AppCenter. It is extremely easy to use and best of all, you can help support the independent developers of the software you use as easily as clicking a button. This operating system is easy to use, but the trade off will be that you full control of your system is made a bit more difficult for the sake of beauty. This is not a bad thing. The beauty of this operating system far surpasses any proprietary OS on the market. What you gain is a freedom along with that beauty that is far more valuable than anything that a propriety and locked down system could ever offer. We will cover the install of this system along with a number of the apps that may be useful for you in this system.
One app for secure communication is called Briar. It uses a unique combination of Peer-To-Peer technology, End-to-End Encryption, and routing traffic through Tor. It is also a completely self-hosted because you don't rely on a central server to direct the messages. more
Here is a relatively incomplete list of software and packages that my fellow anarchists may find useful, with a bit of an explanation for why each is important in its own right.
Suckless software is by far one of my favorite projects because they try to make minimal software for very specific use-cases. They offer an entire Window Manager and Terminal Emulator and it is generally much more efficient on system resources than an entire Desktop Environment like KDE or XFCE. This is good for computers like old 32 bit computers and low power ARM and RISC-V Systems on a Chip.
Suckless documents their programs and code very well, so we won't go into detail on these, but I will say that Suckless is one of my favorite projects and I think learning it and learning to use Suckless software could greatly benefit those of use with older hardware and those of us who value highly efficient computers.
Gnu Image Manipulation Program is one of the essential tools for in depth editing of photos and other images, as well as for creating graphics from scratch. It has a lot of filters and settings that will assist you in whatever artistic whim comes your way. I use this program on a daily basis to create and edit graphics for this very site. No Non-Free software was used in the creation of this website.
Inkscape is another program I use for this website. It is a vector graphic manipulation and creation program. It is how I got my logo, all from scratch. It is a great alternative to a lot of proprietary programs out there. Remember, the reason we seek free software is not because we are too poor to afford fancy proprietary software (though that may also be true), but because we don't want to support the monopolistic tendencies of massive tech corporations.
LibreOffice is the essential tool for any home computer. It is a set of tools, actually, that allow you to create, edit, and view just about any sort of document that your heart desires. Slackware comes with a set of office programs developed by KDE called Calligra, so you may not need it for that operating system, but it is still a good suit of software to consider using instead of something like Google Docs or Microsoft Office.
Atril is the PDF viewer for Mate and I highly recommend it. It is a simple PDF viewer that integrates very well into the Mate Desktop Environment. There are many others as well, but I have found Atril to be one of the most compliant with PDF standards. If you look through Suckless software, mentioned above, you will find other document viewers as well and you may prefer those. This is Free Software, Libre Software, so it is truly up to you what you use.
There is a lot more out that, but these are the very basics so far. Check them all out. Install one of the operating systems mentioned on this site and just look through their programs that they include in their distributions. There is so much Free Software out there, it would actually be crazy to use something controlled by a massive corporation. Corporate software is so very controlled, in fact, that when you pay for it, you don't actually own it. You are effectively paying them for the right to use your own computer and software for a short period of time until you have to pay rents, once again, to that corporation. Don't fall for this trick, use free software and send the developers some money for their effort.