A new year, a new decade, and a new chance to break old habits by trying new
Yes, we’re talking New Year’s resolutions — but with a FOSS flavoured twist!
It’s common at the start of the year to set yourself a couple of goals you can try and achieve throughout the year.
We’re talking achievable things that will make an appreciable difference to your life.
But forgot about losing a bit of weight, spending less money on take-out coffee, or arranging to see the in-laws more because I want to know what your Linux new year resolutions are!
Perhaps you plan on running
apt update less often? Are you minded to explore KDE, Xfce, or i3? Might you want to assemble the courage to attempt your own Arch Linux install?!
Let me know — but on the off chance you don’t yet have any Linux related resolutions in mind, read on for five tip top suggestions from me!
New Year’s Resolutions, Linux Style
1. Try a different desktop environment
Whether you’re new to Linux or a battle-hardened veteran of the distro wars: you’ve probably sampled your fair share of Linux desktop environments.
And, naturally, you’ve picked your preferred one and kept within the gravitation field of the GUI you consider greatest.
But open source is in constant flux. The desktop shells you sample two, three or more years ago won’t be representative of the way the desktop is now.
For me this will mean that I finally get on and use KDE Plasma in 2020. It’s been a long time since I last sampled it, and the latest releases look and sound terrific — I want to see what the hype is about!
So maybe you should do the same, be it sample Cinnamon, investigate i3-gaps, or lounge about with LXQt.
2. Contribute to an open source project
If there’s an open source project or app you adore using why not make a resolution to give back to it this year?
This doesn’t have to be in the form of code (though if you can contribute in that are then do, as more hands on deck are always appreciated, especially in unglamorous areas like packaging).
Otherwise there are plenty of ways you can help promote and improve your FOSS faves, most of them free:
- Blog or tweet or make a video
- Join a forum and answer/help other users
- File (helpful) bugs
- Create promotional material (guides, banners, etc)
If the project you’re enthusiastic about happens to accept donations (of whatever currency they like) then you can, of course, contribute that route.
Do check if there is an official “merch store” first, somewhere you can buy stickers, t-shirts, etc. This way you get to financially support your fave project and get something to help promote it with in return!
3. Listen to a Linux podcast
Podcasts are an easy way to make your daily commute (or lengthy tub soak) a little more productive and/or entertaining. And since you like Linux and open source, software, why not listen to a Linux podcast?
The Linux podcast scene is huge. There are over 15 active Linux podcasts putting out new shows regularly. And there’s something to suit most tastes.
My top recommendation is the official Ubuntu Podcast. Its great, and the hosts include Ubuntu’s new desktop lead Martin Wimpress and Canonical’s velvet-voiced Alan Pope. The format of the show is breezy and lighthearted too, which makes it easy to dip in and out of as and when you can.
4. Be more positive
One thing a lot of open source projects do not get enough of is positive feedback.
As soon as something isn’t right, or goes wrong, or breaks, folks will dive in to ask for help, query what’s up, or (sadly) complain loudly about it on social media.
But when everything is working fine, as planned, ticking away nicely few of us feel motivated to take the time out to say “thank you” or “good job” or “amazing work”.
I can’t promise I won’t rant when something breaks or stops working on my install, but I do plan to offset my “negative footprint” by making sure I share positive remarks, encouragement, and (where possible) contributions (see #2).
5. Buy Linux hardware
Don’t skip this resolution because you think you can’t afford it — buying Linux hardware isn’t as expensive as it sounds!
Yes; you could drop a couple thousand dollars on a sleekly designed speed-demon from the likes of Dell, Slimbook or System76.
But there’s more to the Linux hardware scene than those well spec’d high-end laptops all the cool bloggers get to try out.
Next year the $149 PinePhone goes on sale with the ability to boot multiple Linux-based mobile operating systems. It’ll be followed by the $25 PineTime smartwatch — yes, $25 — that runs open source software and will play nice with Linux phones.
And don’t overlook accessories, game pads, peripherals, and other PC add-ons sold as being “compatible” with Linux, either.
Every time you buy a dongle or a device labelled as “working” on Linux or that’s supported with firmware updates via the LVFS you’re making a statement to OEMs that they’re doing good — and they should keep it up!
Bonus: Meet other Linux users!
A bonus tip, one that’s been on my mind a lot over the past few months, is getting to know more Linux users on a personal level.
Very few people I know “IRL” know what Linux is, much less understand why I’d excited about a phone with no OS or a laptop that’s more expensive than a Windows equivalent in the window of Laptop’o’rama, est. 1997.
I might write — okay, try to write — a blog about Linux related topic(s) but I feel like I don’t actually talk to many people involved in Linux on an informal or regular basis.I plan to change that this year.
LUGs (Linux User Groups) are still a thing, and there are ample open source conferences, events, and the like to attend — perfect if you’re an IRL IRL kinda person.
But what if you’re a social shyster like me? Well, you don’t have to travel real highways to make new Linux-loving friends when there’s the — get ready to groan — information super highway!
Forums, blogs and social media are great ways to come across other Linux users with different takes, likes, and opinions.
“Live” chat on Twitch streams and in Discord channels are another great way too connect with likeminded (and not-so-likeminded) Linux users too.