My love letter to free software

Published in Miscellanious

This post is dedicated to the I ❤ Free Software campaign.

Disclaimer: this post is going to be pretty link-heavy. I really want to give proper credit and love to all the free software I've been using and am currently using.

My story with free software is neither long, nor epic. I'm not a Linux guru, I haven't been using free software exclusively since middle school, and recompiling the kernel is still some ancient magic to me. Yet I still want to share my story and express my love and gratitude for it.

In fact, I've barely used any free software until University. I had a PC with good ol' Windows and good ol' MS Office. And the dial-up connection wasn't good for anything other than quickly getting some info for a school report. The only open source thing I can remember from these days are Firefox, my favourite web browser to date.

The interesting part happened when I got into the University. The Internet got cheap, I discovered a world of torrents (I had my fair share of pirated software, and I'm not proud about it). I think it was the second year in the Uni when my friend (who was an avid Linux user) suggested trying Ubuntu to me. I did, and I was blown away. I don't even quite remember why I was so amazed at it. One way or the other, the "Unix way" settled with me quickly.

As time went by, I worked more and more within Linux, eventually using VirtualBox for most of my Windows-related tasks. MS Office was quickly ditched for OpenOffice and then LibreOffice. Around the third year I discovered the power of LaTeX: a publishing tool that greatly helped me prepare my reports. For our C++ programming courses I went from Borland IDEs to Code::Blocks and Qt Creator.

C++ wasn't my only interest though, and later I went to learning Java. My IDE of choice was NetBeans (I didn't try Eclipse until much later, and truth to be told, I don't like it very much). However, later my attention was captured by Ruby and Python. I tried a lot of IDEs for both of them (even using Spyder for quite some time) before I decided to ditch them altogether in favour of simpler text editors.

This was a journey of its own. I tried Sublime Text, and I thought it was good, but the "eternal trial" thing discouraged me. I decided to try something more free. After several years I still struggle and oscillate between three editors: Vim (and recently its spawn, NeoVim), Emacs and Atom. Atom is the new kid on the block who isn't as experienced or skilled as the other two, but definitely has great potential.

In the end, my job and hobbies are tightly connected with using free software. I work as a Ruby on Rails programmer, and currently I'm trying to stick my nose into Django and Node.JS, and I've been using PostgreSQL for years now.

I admit it, my contribution to open source is miserable at best, but as an avid free software user, I just want to thank the people and the organisations behind the movement and the projects. What you've done is awesome. I love free software. I love how open it is. I love the fact that I can generally look at the sources to learn and understand. I certainly love that, more often then not, any issues I reported were addressed quickly and professionally.

I love all of it.


I realise that the software I listed previously is but a fraction of all the free software I use and admire. A lot of it was sacrificed to the gods of narrative. However, I'd still like to give credit where credit is due, so here's a short list of free software that didn't make it into the main story:

Again, I'd like to thank the people and the organisations behind the projects.