when ideology ruins technology

I’ve been conducting an experiment with myself as the test subject since the first of this year. The reason for this personal experiment has been to determine if I can live without the Chrome browser and Google search.

I can’t go cold turkey on Google. I have multiple Gmail accounts to handle various tasks, having been a Gmail user since 2005 when I was invited to participate in the Gmail beta. In the past I attempted to use Google+, and I will on occasion go slumming through YouTube to look for some off-beat bit of music or old TV program. I experimented using G Suite and its individual tools in place of Microsoft Office, but I’ve since just installed and use Libre Office everywhere, not out of some misguided idealogical motivation but because it wouldn’t do all I wanted, the way I wanted.. Finally I’m a Go language user, Go having been developed by Google and for Google’s internal use before it was released as open source for the rest of the world. Google search was the first Google product I turned to, abandoning Yahoo! search completely the day I switched to Google Beta in late 1998. That’s over two decades of using Google products in some form or fashion. And I haven’t even talked about Google World and Google Maps…

Regardless, I fell under the sway of the screaming mimies that Chrome in all its forms was Evil, as was using Google Search. Ok. So on my iPhone and iPads and Mac I started using Apple’s Safari. It was pre-installed and Apple has this big deal about being privacy focused. I’ll give it a shot. For search I turned to DuckDuckGo, the current champion of the digital cognoscenti everywhere. So how did that work out for you Bill?

In the beginning it was a little rough. Search results, in particular, were a little thin, both in quality and quantity. Using Safari was OK and wasn’t all that different than using Chrome or Firefox. Until later.

Over time I found a problem with Safari on both macOS and iOS and iPadOS. It would crash and any open tabs were lost. On. All. Three. Platforms. I use my many open browser tabs to keep track of research that is ongoing at any given time. Over time, the oldest open tabs bubble to the back and are eventually closed by me. I make those decisions. But after three crashes (two on my iPad, one on macOS), I got really peeved. I’ve never had the problem with either Chrome or Firefox. They may crash, but they have tab recovery. No so Safari. The worst crash was on macOS where I had over a dozen leading tabs out of almost 100 open to areas I was actively using for my software and hardware development. That one truly hurt.

I’ve now gone back to a combination of Chrome and Firefox. I won’t even consider Microsoft Edge, so please don’t mention it. As for DuckDuckGo, when I switched browsers I switched back to Google and got what I consider much better search results. For technical questions, I consider Google’s results to be much superior.

Lesson learned? In the future, take everything that is pushing a technical ideological agenda with many grains of salt.

fedora 32

I downloaded the latest desktop release of Fedora from https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/ the other night and installed it in a VirtualBox VM. It installed without any hassles whatsoever, almost as if it was based on Ubuntu.

When it booted into the desktop the first time after installation I was able to pretty much get right to work, checking out its various features and capabilities. Out-of-the-box so to speak it was able to mount the shared macOS folder defined in its VirtualBox VM definition. When I added my Fedora account to the vboxsf group, I was able to see all the files in the shared folder. This was achieved without having to install the VirtualBox guest additions. It looks like the kernel work with VirtualBox shared folders really works, which is amazing after all this time.

The only reason I might want to install the VirtualBox guest additions is to gain the ability to have the Fedora desktop resize when I resize the VM window. Right now it won’t do that. I have it configured for 1680 x 1050 scaled to 150% (this is a MacBook Pro with a 15″ Retina Display). The Fedora desktop fits the MacBook screen quite well, and the mouse cursor moves seamless between the MacBook desktop and the Fedora stock Gnome desktop. I can’t think of a really good reason to install the guest additions so I’ll just leave it as is for the time being.

The Fedora desktop is also running with the Wayland manager/compositor, and I discovered it runs much smoother than either other desktop manager (classic Gnome and Gnome with X.org).

I’m also quite pleasantly surprised by the version of the tools that comes with this distribution. GCC/G++ are both at version 10, as is Clang/LLVM. Python and Git are also right at the top, release-wise. I managed to install Visual Studio Code right from the Fedora repositories without having to add any other repos to def. That also included htop. I have yet to not be able to install anything I might need. I even went looking to see what versions of Java I might be able to install, and I found Java 8, 11, and 14. All of these are OpenJDK, not Oracle, which makes me quite happy. I’ve not installed them yet, but I know I can if I need them.

All joking aside this looks to be one of the best Fedora releases I’ve touched in years. I haven’t been this satisfied with Fedora since 2013, when I installed Fedora versions 16, 17, and 18 starting late 2011 on a bog standard Dell laptop where I was working at the time. When I took a look at Fedora again, it was 2014, and it was an attempt to install on a VirtualBox VM. From that point things were touchy and I just stayed with Ubuntu. But now I have to admit its pretty (shockingly) good. This particular Fedora VM is a keeper — so far.