Open Source: Some Context and Direction

This blog contains a lot of references and commentary on open source computing, Linux primarily. Before switching to Linux from Windows, open source operating systems seemed like something only programmers and experts used. Having used Unix and Apple computers while I was a young adult I had the mistaken impression that anything that ended in *nix meant command line computing only. Immediately upon installing a Linux system that mistaken notion was forever dispelled. It turned out Linux these days isn't any more complicated than Windows, at least not for someone who uses their computer for more than entry level productivity.

The primary attraction behind switching to a Linux system was security. First Windows 95, and then Windows 98, exhibited a pattern of bogging down after a few of months of use. Applications and processes slowed down over time, until usability was so impacted the problem could no longer be ignored. By the time Windows XP came out protection against spyware, adware, backdoor orifices, trojans, viruses and worms wasn't optional. For anyone who spent a lot of time on the Internet without security software the computer was a sitting duck. On top of that, quite often the security slowed down the computer almost as much as malware and malicious code. Linux is invulnerable to the vast majority of such material, and so the switch was made.

In the course of developing proficiency in creating a desktop to be proud of, compiling, command line code and in depth security fluency becomes part of one's knowledge base, at least for those who desire a full featured computing experience. A computer is a marvelous thing. It can be used as a home entertainment system, an advanced tool for calculations and scientific processes, and it is especially magnificent in the realm of communications and data transfer. It is in the lattermost area that security information is so incredibly valuable.

It was while learning how to streamline the Linux kernel that I first discovered the answer to all the questions I ever had about hacking. Once the mystique of hacking vanishes the dividing line between ethical hacking and the malicious and illegal becomes absolutely clear. Those who use the techniques available for intrusion into private and public systems can provide no rationalization for their actions that can make the practice acceptable, although the justice system does take into account the difference between thrill seekers and those out for profit.

Open source makes securing Linux desktops and servers easily possible for the individual, instead of something that has to be done with third party software. While learning about security all of the techniques and methods used by malicious hackers becomes transparent. When the task of hardening your system becomes tedious and time consuming any mistaken romantic perception of the hacker conjured by pop-culture, like the movie with Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller, will likely go right out the window. The learning experience is still highly enjoyable. None of that experience comes out of using a proprietary operating system.

So, yup, there's some context and direction...

Also, and it is a BIG also, many Linux distributions come with GIMP, the GNU version of Photoshop. I'm a visitor using Windows here and I am hurting without a photo manipulation program. Thanks for nothing, Mickeysoft.

Creepy Walls: Pyramid Head at the top, with his impression of Boxxy ♥s Addy [Pyramid Head will mess you up, man] -- all Silent Hill.
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