FAQ

Published on 2020-10-25. Modified on 2022-08-01.

I get a lot of email in which people tend to ask the same questions, so I will try to fill out this FAQ with answers to the most common questions (as time permits).

Table of contents

What is the font you're using on the website?

This website uses your browser's monospace font for the body and sans-serif for headlines.

Will you put my ad on your website?

No.

Will you ever put any ads on your website?

No.

Can I pay you to write about my commercial product?

No.

Can I pay you to put my writing about my commercial product on your website?

No.

Your RSS feed is broken, it doesn't contain the article, can you please fix it?

The RSS 2.0 specification doesn't require the main article to be a part of the RSS feed and I don't believe it should be as the feed reader isn't a web browser.

Are you using some blog software and theme that you found, or is everything custom made?

I write HTML and CSS by hand. Please see: Come full circle - back to HTML.

What is your workflow?

Please see: Come full circle - back to HTML

What programming language do you recommend?

This is like asking, "what tool do you recommend?"

You need to understand the problem you're trying to solve and then find the best solution to that problem. Some programming languages are general purpose others are domain specific. Some are build for speed while others cater to other requirements. First understand your problem, then look at the different solutions to see which fits best and which you understand the most.

What operating system do you recommend to a newcomer from Microsoft Windows?

This is difficult to answer because it depends on your requirements and experience. Almost anything open source is better than Microsoft Windows.

I recommend that you take some time to study a bit first. Learn a little about the Unix philosophy and the Unix shell (perhaps get a good book) before you begin your journey. Even if you never need any of this it will still benefit you greatly.

You will find that from a day-to-day user experience point of view, once you have everything set up as you like, there is little difference and most FOSS operating systems will solve your problems equally well. This is because we actually rarely deal with the operating system itself, we mostly deal with applications. Whether you surf the Internet with Firefox on a Linux distribution or a BSD flavor makes no big difference as long as you have the hardware support you need.

However, there might be a difference in how secure the operating system is, how battle tested it is (i.e. how many people and companies are using it), what kinds of file systems are supported, how much you can tune and fiddle with the operating system, whether the operating system comes with a preset desktop environment or you install one yourself, how good the package manager is at solving dependency issues, whether you need a proprietary graphics driver or you can manage with an open source version, how friendly the community is, etc.

In any case, I do not recommend a Linux distribution or BSD flavor that "holds your hand" too much because you'll learn nothing and gain no control over your system.

Just understand one thing, when you step into the world of Open Source, it's completely different from Microsoft Windows. In the beginning it might feel overwhelming and difficult, but that's just because you have gotten used to "the Windows way" of doing things. Be patient, you will not regret it in the long run!

What do you recommend for a secure smartphone?

Nothing. I use an old dumb phone.

If you absolutely cannot live without a smartphone (you know you can right?), then at least find a supported device you can root and install one of the open source versions of Linux on the device.

What do you recommend for secure email?

None of the public services.

What do you recommend for privacy respecting DNS?

None of the public services. Setup your own recursive resolver. Even if you only have a single laptop, you can still setup a recursive resolver on that and then send all DNS queries to 127.0.0.1. I highly recommend Unbound.

Do you hate Microsoft Windows?

Short answer: Yes!

Long answer: I managed to spend a big part of my life providing support for Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft related products, both on the desktop and on the server market. I cannot count how many hours of my life I have wasted due to the absolutely poor quality of these products compared to the open source alternatives. In every single case, where I later convinced someone to move to an open source alternative, the result was the same, an amazing rise in stability, security and overall run time.

Unless you're a gamer, I see no reason what so ever to ever want to have Microsoft Windows installed on anything!

And no, Microsoft has not changed and suddenly become the best of friends with the FOSS communities! They have just changed their business strategy.

FreeBSD or OpenBSD, which of these operating systems do you recommend?

Please see: Choosing between OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

What do you recommend for storage or NAS?

FreeBSD with ZFS.

What particular hardware do you recommend?

I don't recommend any specific hardware. If you ask this because you want to know if your hardware is compatible with OpenBSD or FreeBSD then take a look at their respective sites such as OpenBSD supported platforms and FreeBSD hardware compatibility.

If you have specific questions regarding specific hardware, then search the mailing list archives for related questions. Archives: OpenBSD misc and FreeBSD questions. If you cannot find similar questions, join the relevant list and ask if anyone else has any experience with the specific hardware you need information about.