Personal Computer Liberation
Posted on: March 09, 2009
I now have a technology goal for the year, to move my personal computing needs to platforms/programs that are easy to import/export my data from. For the most part this will be open source products but I will not ignore closed source products that provide me with easy non locked access to my data.
The catalyst for this change happened on Feb 5th of this year. My iMac at home stopped working, I feared the thing was dead (it is just a little over 4 years old now). I opened the thing up and found that the hard drive had failed, luckily I have good backups and it only cost me the price of a new drive and my time.
I got lucky this time but it got me thinking, what if the computer did die on me, what then? Buying a Mac just so I could access all MY data and programs seems wrong (will cover what programs I “need” below), a quick check at the Apple Store shows that the cheapest replacement I can get is a Mac Mini for $599 and if I wanted a comprable machine $1,199 for the iMac. I don’t want to pay that much for a computer anymore, and I don’t want to be locked into a single ecosystem.
To sum up, my goals are the following:
- Use a system that can be installed on any commodity hardware.
- Use software that I can get my info into and out of easily and not be locked in, ideally open source but I will not exclude “non evil” closed source apps/services.
- Eliminate hardware/software lock-in.
So far I have taken the following steps:
- Use Google calendars to sync with my Mac/iPhone instead of MobileMe.
- Use Google contacts to sync with my Mac/iPhone instead of MobileMe.
- Use Toodledoo in place of OmniFocus for task tracking on Mac/iPhone.
- Use Dropbox in place of MobileMe iDisk for multi computer/phone file sharing, as a bonus it is much faster and free.
- Moved to Google Chrome as my main browser to stay consistant across platforms, was using Safari on Mac and FireFox on other platforms.
What I plan on doing:
- Move to the Nexus One once it comes to Verizon or At&t, that way I get rid of the iPhone app restrictions.
- Move to Ubuntu as my main operating system. Initially I will try it on the iMac if I can and if not buy a new machine for it. This is the part where I run into the major snags.
- If I can move pieces to a web based solution I will make that attempt to ease any future transitions.
- Since TextMate is Mac only I will need to brush up on my emacs skills for all my coding needs.
- My wife loves her iPhone, so I can not completely get rid of the Mac right now. I could install a dedicated Windows partition just to sync with iTunes, but that just feels dirty.
- We have an AppleTV which we rip all the kids movies to (that way they don’t handle the disks and scratch them all up). I really like the AppleTV, we will need a way to sync media to it, a Mac/Windows partition or some yet unknown way to do it in Linux.
- A few years ago we started using Aperture to store all our digital photos, I really like how it stores ‘recipes’ for changes and does not duplicate files. I need to find a similar program for Linux, so far I have had no luck.
- I have developed 5 apps for the iPhone that are on the App Store, I am not doing much with them because I am disgusted with the whole experience/platform. Do I get an iPod touch for continued development or do I abandon the platform and only do Android apps?
So my biggest problems are: pictures, music and videos. I’ll update with any progress throughout the year.