[nmglug] February 27th

esque quartonation at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 21:23:52 PDT 2014

Thank you so so much for your in-depth reply. I appreciate your time and
attention so much I hope I can buy you a beer sometime. If next Thursday is
a Linux meeting maybe I will see you then. Again thank you so much. It made
me realize that my problem is that I'm having a hard time because I want to
watch videos have a word processing program be able to install PGP all
those kinds of things that were easy on Windows and Ubuntu because they
were usually just built in. I now have Ubuntu13.10 and your reply gave me
the impetus to start messing around again, I had gotten discouraged. Your
commitment to free software is very commendable I really respect you for
that and your knowledge. Sincerely, Sky
On Mar 13, 2014 5:16 PM, "Sam Noble" <s at mnoble.net> wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 03:47:52AM -0700, esque wrote:
> > I haven't been there ...nor have I even had a computer because Debian is
> a
> > hassle to find and install drivers  for videos word processor everything.
> Hi Sky, Sorry to hear you're having difficulty. Of course it's hard to
> discuss the topic of "everything" but maybe I can guess at and provide
> some insight into the types of problems you might be having as I helped
> you install Debian on your machine.
> Also note, that while I've used Debian very happily for many years, I
> don't consider the choice of a GNU/Linux distribution to be something
> "important".  Rather it is usually just a matter of technical
> preferences; however the role of a distro is to install a bunch of
> software on _your_ machine, so it is important that the distribution is
> trustworthy and that they make choices that you would agree with
> regarding what they install.
> One common point of contention in that area, which I suspect you may
> have been recently encountering, is how much effort is spent on dealing
> with non-free software. As an activist in the free software movement, I
> am making an effort to never use non-free software, and when I discover
> that one of my computers has had non-free software installed when I did
> not intend it, I feel angry and betrayed.
> The likelihood of that happening does vary greatly by distribution, with a
> corresponding side-effect that many people use mostly free systems that
> also use some non-free software, of which they are unaware!
> A similar and likely even more common case is the one where a user of a
> mostly free Operating System, _is_ aware that they are installing
> non-free software but possibly would not have done so had the system
> designers not "encouraged" them to do so by providing tools that work
> around the restricted distribution or other installation issues
> accompanying the non-free software.
> As an example Debian and Ubuntu developers sometimes package non-free
> software using the same mechanisms that are used to distribute the
> freedom respecting software that makes up the distribution. This of
> course requires effort and skill, and is almost always intended to
> provide convenience or some other benefit to users; but instead causes
> users that don't want to use non-free software (like me) to have to be
> extra
> diligent. And can cause both of the previously mentioned somewhat tragic
> scenarios where unwary users don't even know they are using software
> that disrespects their freedom, and encouraging users who may know
> better to go ahead and use the non-free software anyway.
> While I can whole-heartedly recommend making an effort to never use
> non-free software, it is sometimes inconvenient. Especially in the cases
> where a non-free alternative is very popular; as the community and
> developer base around any free alternative is that much smaller. Take as
> an example the poor support for the gnash plugin with respect to flash
> video sites. I am confident it would be much better did not so many
> GNU/Linux users opt to install the non-free alternative.
> With regard to your current difficulties, it's worth noting that I
> regularly configure systems to _not_ experience these issues by ensuring
> that only the freedom respecting "official" portions of the distribution
> are available to the package management system. And I likely did the
> same to your system...
> so "you're welcome?" :P
> > I want Ubuntu. Nowhere when I google can I come up with anything that
> > says there's an NSA back door using Ubuntu anyway.
> While it is now widely reported that the NSA's TAO does have access to a
> very broad range of devices; that need not be your primary privacy
> concern with regard to Ubuntu, as they knowingly and admittedly are
> reporting the content of each use of the desktop to at least both
> Canonical and Amazon.
> This is supposedly easy to turn off, (see fixubuntu.com) but I can't
> relate to using software that behaves that way and then still thinking
> we are likely to get from such a poor starting point to some trustworthy
> and privacy respecting endpoint.
> However some people are trying. If you believe that the problems you're
> having with your system would be helped by an Ubuntu style install, [
> with respect to which tools and applications are installed by default,
> rather than the availability of packages with freedom restrictions ] you
> might be interested in the distribution Trisquel, which is a derivative
> of Ubuntu whose goal is merely to remove anything which does not respect
> your freedom.
> > Anyway I need to get my own computer set up and then also there is a
> > lot of interest in people learning basic privacy tools and I'm talking
> > about people that aren't geeks.
> > I would be interested in doing something like this if anyone can help
> > me at least get my own computer back.
> That's great. There are many tools that can provide increased privacy.
> But as Glen Greenwald discovered while trying to arrange his
> communication channels with Ed Snowden, the tools are unfortunately
> difficult for many people to use, and many of us that are at least
> passingly familiar with the tools still need to come to terms with how
> far from end-user usable they are. But I can recommend the
> Liberationtech mailing list at stanford as an excellent place to lurk
> and hear the discussion on whether we can get from A to B on that one.
> > Something about the way Debian was set up disallows me from running
> > from boot too.
> Not sure what you mean there, but that one at least is something we can
> probably fix.
> --
> sam
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