Skip to main content

30 Days of FOSS Challenge: Starting Status


One of my acquaintances, nixnull came up with the idea of a “30 Days of FOSS Challenge”. The objective is to exclusively use, as much as possible, Free and Open Source Software, as opposed to proprietary software.

I’ll defer the reasoning why you might want to do something like this to Nix’s overview page. This post is to catalog my current posture with respect to proprietary software usage.

Desktop and Server Software

I run stock Arch Linux on my personal workstation. Everything in the official Arch repositories is open source, so I only need to examine the AUR packages that I have installed, which can be approximated with pacman -Qm.

Scanning the list, I only see one problematic package, which is virtualbox-ext-oracle, the closed source Extension Pack to the open source VirtualBox hypervisor. I run a Windows 10 installation in VirtualBox rarely in order to use some software I can’t get working on Linux, but that hasn’t been necessary for a while. And probably won’t be necessary in April either.

On my servers, 2 run OpenBSD and 2 run Debian Stable. Both of the OpenBSD servers run no software from outside of packages/ports and thus are fully FOSS.

One of the Debian servers runs various bots I host, particular r16 and matterbridge, both of which are FOSS. The other is a NAS that runs some extra scripts from outside the package tree like Sanoid, but they are all FOSS as well.

So I’m already in quite a strong position here, and I don’t think much needs to change habitually here.

Mobile Software

Mobile is much harder. I run a Pixel 7 with upstream Android, and I’m not particularly keen on moving off of it for now. Scanning through my applications shows a lot of builtin Google apps, but considering the proprietary ones I use the most often (daily):

  1. Discord: Closed-source client for the web service of the same name, will be discussed below
  2. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger: Same, discussed below.
  3. Outlook: Microsoft’s email app sucks, but the FOSS ones suck even more. K-Mail has awful UI. Maybe I’ll try setting up FairEmail. One problem is that a lot of mobile clients don’t handle aliases/alternate From addresses properly, which is a workflow I need to work.
  4. Google Maps: I use it daily to plan commutes and see live statuses of buses, as well as to find new places to eat at. For the former, I can try using an OSM client or my local transit authority’s website (which still uses Google Maps API’s…). It shouldn’t be too bad, albeit with worse UI. The latter might be challenging, however.
  5. YouTube: Same as Discord.

Web Services and Games

These are the difficult ones.

  1. Reddit: I already blocked it with uBlock Origin for my mental sanity, but I do bypass the block every so often if I’m searching specifically for something and know I won’t start idly browsing.
  2. YouTube: Probably the hardest and probably impossible, YouTube videos are the means through which I entertain myself usually. Cutting it all might be possible but I wouldn’t count on it happening. Maybe I can rely more on RSS feeds for the channels I really prioritize, then mpv/yt-dlp them for viewing locally.
  3. Facebook/Instagram/Messenger: I use these ~daily, but I work for this company, so I can vouch for them not being malicious (at least). They’re still not FOSS though, but not sure if I can cut these. Maybe Facebook and the non-messaging parts of Instagram.
  4. Discord: Tough. I (very begrudgingly) use it to communicate with people who only use it. Not to mention I’m attending a couple conventions in April and will need it to stay in touch with people from both. Outside of that time though I’ll try to minimize my usage (potentially uninstalling it from my phone) and relying only on the IRC bridge for the one Discord I’m truly active in daily.
  5. GitHub: Bet you didn’t think of that one? GitHub claims to be shining bright light of open source, yet the entire platform is closed source. Oh the irony. I’ll be avoiding hosting new repositories there as I already do, and encourage contributors to other projects I maintain that are hosted there to use the mailing list and patch workflow instead.
  6. Gmail and Outlook email: I self-host some of my email, but a lot of existing things still flow to my Gmail and Outlook accounts. I don’t see a clean way out of this one.

We’ll see how this looks in a month!