Ricky Kresslein

Moving To Free And Open-Source Software (FOSS)


Recently I made the move to FOSS–Free and Open-Source Software. I changed my whole digital life over. Programs I used every day have been replaced: phone apps, my web browser, and even the operating system on my main computer.

What sparked this decision? I got fed up with the few massive companies that control our digital lives.There were two main events that caused this.

First, Gooogle announced that G-Suite will be changing to Workspace and the plan I had been on for two years, Gmail for my business email and unlimited storage on Google Drive, will be going up in price and the storage will no longer be unlimited. In fact, the storage for the same price point is dropping all the way down from unlimited to 2 TB.

Second, about a week after the first announcement, Google announced Google Photos would no longer allow free storage of "high quality" images. After a certain storage limit, users will need to pay for mor storage.

Both of these changes are understandable. Companies need to make money and Google was offering very cheap/free services. The problem arrises in the fact that Google made these services extremely cheap or free until most of the competition had been eliminated since they could not afford to compete. Once they were gone, Google was free to up the price.

These events also made me realize my digital life was too reliant on one company. Just as I do in my investments, I needed to diversify. So, that's exactly what I've decided to do. I'm diversifying my digital assets. I felt that my subscriptions had gotten out of hand. I was spending a lot every month for services that I realized I may be able to replace with free alternatives.

This had a snowball effect: every time I canceled one service I wanted to cancel more. After all was said and done, I had canceled fourteen subscriptions and seven domains!

I'm tired of greed. I'm fed up with everyone doing things and creating things for no reason other than to make money. My biggest qualm was with myself–every business idea I had was not to fulfill me, but to put money in my pocket, and I wanted this to change.

It's awesome to use excellent software created by people who love what they are doing and expect nothing in return. Remember how you felt when you started receiving Netflix DVDs in the mail and each one felt like punching Blockbuster and their late fees in the face? That's how using open-source software feels to me.

What apps have I replaced, and what did I replace them with?

Google Chrome -> Firefox

Google Chrome is free, and its underlying architecture, Chromium, is open-source. So why did I switch to Firefox?

The first reason is for the aforementioned issues I have with Google. Second, almost every browser these days, including Microsoft Edge and Opera, are built on Chromium. That means by using anything other than Safari or Firefox we are contributing to a single-browser internet, which paves the way for one company to hold all the power. Third, I've fallen in love with Firefox.

Firefox has some really great privacy features. It blocks all social media cookies by default, and there is an add-on that keeps Facebook stuck in its own tab so it cannot track you while you browse other pages.

Spotify -> Navidrome

I have been sick of Spotify for a long time. The app sucks. It's missing many features and it's super slow, especially on slow internet. I'm also weird, apparently, and I don't listen to much music. When I do, I mostly listen to the same 2-3 albums. Therefore, this ended up being easy for me to replace. I set up a Navidrome instance on my home server and use the substreamer app to listen to it on my iPhone

Google G-Sutie -> Home Server

I traded Google Drive for three 8TB SSDs connected to my home server, with another 14TB HDD which is used as a backup drive. Another external SSD is kept at my in-law's house in case of a house fire or other disaster.

Squarespace -> Akamai

Squarespace is expensive when compared to a VPS. If you know how to set up a server and build a website, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself, especially if you run multiple websites. I happen to enjoy web design, and decided to save over one-hundred dollars per year by designing a website myself.

Evernote and Roam -> Plain Text

Evernote is where I have been taking notes for years, but when I found Roam I was blown away. I immediately signed up for the paid service. When switching to FOSS, I found Obsidian, a free, open-source application like Roam that does everything I need and then some. I immediately fell in love and exported all my Roam notes to markdown to be imported into Obsidian. Then I found Logseq and decided to switch everything to that. Then Trilium, then Joplin. It was a mess. Until I found this post by Derek Sivers, moved everything to plain text, and never looked back.

Adobe Creative Cloud

  1. Lightroom -> Darktable and RawTherapee
  2. Photoshop -> GIMP
  3. Premiere Pro -> Kdenlive and DaVinci Resolve
  4. Illustrator -> Inkscape

Microsoft 365/Google Docs -> LibreOffice

I don't use an office suite much, except for basic tasks, so LibreOffice is more than powerful enough for my needs.

Microsoft Windows 10 -> Linux and macOS

I absolutely adore Linux. If you are wondering which distro I use, that would be NixOS and Asahi at the moment, but that often changes.

Obviously macOS is not open-source software, but I bought a MacBook Pro M3 Max in 2023 because the Apple Silicon was just too hard to resist. I love having a cool and quiet laptop that is extremely powerful. However, I've had my fill of Apple and my next laptop will be one meant for Linux. Asahi Linux has made this MacBook even better, though.

There you have it, those are all the subscriptions I replaced with free and open-source software! I should mention, playing around with software and computers is extremely fun to me. If you don't like messing with computers, Linux probably isn't for you. It is not nearly as easy to setup as Mac or Windows.