Tormenting my Wife via Open Source Software

in #technology6 years ago (edited)


Awhile back, I convinced @walkerland that we needed to ditch all non open source software, mostly for philosophical reasons. Both of us (me especially) dislike the business practices of Microsoft, Apple, Google: they are jerks at almost every turn. As such, we decided to go strictly open source, as much as is possible.

"Alright, back up your data: we're wipin' this thing."

So began, what for me, has been a terribly fun opportunity to torment my wife with regards to software. See, I've been using open source stuff forever, so for me, it's old hat. Her though, she'd used mostly Apple and Microsoft products. She was used to Apple's ease of use, and to applications that allow you to "click your way through everything."

She's never really used a command line.

We started her off with Ubuntu, a nice, beginner friendly Linux, which she really liked .. but it soon annoyed me that certain Ubuntu practices are not the greatest. "If we're doing it, we might as well go all the way!", was my argument for, a couple months into her Ubuntu experience, a complete wipe and restart. She was just getting comfortable with it, so .. time to pull the rug out!

"Back it all up again: we're wipin' this thing. Again."

"Aww, but I really like this."
"It's not pure enough! You'll like OpenBSD."
"Does it look as cool as Ubuntu?"
"Well, you can MAKE it look that cool!"

I threw her directly into the deep end, and installed OpenBSD. If you're not familiar with it, it's a more server-centric, security focused distribution that makes you do a lot of the work yourself. It is wonderfully coherent after you've used it for awhile .. everything ELSE seems crazy .. but until you get up to speed on it, it can seem quite intimidating.

You can read about it here:

.. but suffice it to say, this is not an operating system for open source beginners. Users are expected to have a certain level of knowledge, and she had none! What fun we would have with this.

She jumped right in, and rapidly encountered all sorts of things. We had some hilarious conversations .. for months.

"How do I shut down the computer?"
"Are you superuser?"
"What is superuser?"
"man su"
"type MAN SU"
"Never mind, type su and hit enter."
"What do you mean where?"
"Where do I type that?"
"Oh, in a terminal."
"Click the desktop and then click xterm."
"Now type 'su' and hit enter."
"Put in your superuser password."
"It won't accept it."
"Put in your actual superuser password."
"It didn't do anything."
"That means it worked. Now type shutdown minus p now."
"Do I need a space between shutdown and minus p?"
"OK, it worked."
"Damn right it did."

"Why is it so hard?", she would ask, "to do simple things?"
"It's not hard, once you know how to do it", I'd say, comfortingly!

And so it went, for a few weeks.

"How do I get get access to my camera photos?"
"Mount it."
"type man mount"

Now, "man mount" is a command that tells the operating system to display information related to the command. So, "man date", for example, would give you information pertaining to the "date" command, and "man mount" would give you information on how to mount file systems.

The thing is, the man pages are written for people who are somewhat (quite) technically proficient. For example, when I told her to read "man mount", here are the first two paragraphs she read:


The mount command invokes a file system specific program to prepare and
graft the special device or remote node (rhost:path) on to the file
system tree at the point node. If either special or node are not
provided, the appropriate information is taken from the fstab(5) file.

For disk partitions, the special device is either a disklabel(8) UID
(DUID) or an entry in /dev. If it is a DUID, it will be automatically
mapped to the appropriate entry in /dev. In either case the partition
must be present in the disklabel loaded from the device. The partition
name is the last letter in the entry name. For example, /dev/sd0a and
3eb7f9da875cb9ee.a both refer to the `a' partition.

As you can see, it means nothing unless you already know something .. quite a few somethings, actually. I had tremendous fun with this. She'd ask me something relatively simple, and rather than just tell her, I'd often refer her to a man page (which, as often than not, I didn't fully understand!!) She'd often search for it via her browser, and usually ended up at the answer.

Awhile back, @walkerland made the mistake of asking "What program do I need to cut videos?"

Without pause, I said "Blender." For those of you who don't know, Blender is arguably one of the most complicated applications ever invented. It's a 3d rendering program, which, on the side, also happens to edit video. It is used for professional level work, and is not something you can just pick up and use. Tutorials are mandatory, and even then, for the beginner, thing go wrong very easily, very quickly. Menus will disappear. Stuff will work, and then not work, and you have no idea why. Dialogs seem to hide and unhide themselves. Basically the application attacks you, and until you get some level of mastery over it, it'll kick your ass.

She eventually figured it out, and cut herself a small video. It took her a full 12 hours, I think, to get it done the first time. At the end of it, we looked at her rendered output video, and I said "That's great, looks perfect." She smiled. "But it's 1080p, you're going to have to re-render that down..."

She looked at me with what can only be described as "eyes of death" ..

I quickly explained that it'd be easy, and that she didn't even need to use Blender for it! Although she did have to wrestle a bit with ffmpeg command line options to get it downsampled properly, it was far better than having to go back into blender! I complimented her on her work, at the end of that day. She'd learned a LOT.

You can see that video here:

And so its been.

  • She needs to do something.
  • I point her at the hardest way possible to do it.
  • She pounds away at it until she gets it.
  • I get to cackle like a maniac. "Man mount, indeed!"
  • @walkerland gets to learn a hell of a lot.

It has been an absolute blast getting rid of our proprietary software. Great fun has been had by both of us. And hey: from a software perspective, we're philosophically pure! One more off the list.

Are we supporting the likes of MS, Apple and Google? HELL NO, we are actively fighting against them, and it feels good! We are using free and open source software: stuff written by people who actually care about privacy, security and user rights.

In conclusion, delete Windows, install OpenBSD, and once you know it, teach someone else. If you have any questions, just ask. I'll sort you right out!!

Image Credits


[ @xwalkran ]

Seeking truth, meaning and enlightenment.
Philosophy, Technology, News, Conspiracy, Homesteading, Fiction, $$ and more.

Check out my news/conspiracy aggregation site @


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.

Thanks for this - much appreciated!

Epic, man. Haha; Your wife seems really awesome. It must have taken quite a lot love and belief in the philosophy for her to not smash the laptop on the floor.

I don't know if I'm quite ready to undertake that journey myself lol. Like you said, it takes a great deal of knowledge and understanding, really. And right now I have absoulutely none of those things.

Why must they make it soo harrrddddddd...arrghhh.

Cheers, buddy.

She's pretty decent, although, I am a little shocked at all the "your wife is so awesome" comments.. There is not ONE where someone is saying "Hey, way to be a good teacher, way to challenge.." Newp, it's all about her!

Any journey starts with the first step!

You are pure evil and your wife is a saint! I guess it really is true that opposites attract. Lol!

Well, pure evil might be slightly excessive.. A streak of it, perhaps!

Well, pure evil might
Be slightly excessive.. A
Streak of it, perhaps!

                 - xwalkran

I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

That's great at a personal level, learning is always a gift to yourself, but almost every line of code in several free software projects was written by people working for Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Apple and other software/hardware jerks. Can we talk about something PURE on the software ecosystem?

It's not the people that are jerks: it's the corporations, the "shareholder returns above all else" mentality. While the corps may occasionally throw some crumbs to open source, it is in many cases selfish. Android does not exist because Google is being nice.. and anything MS does is likely part of an "embrace, extend, extinguish" strategy. Hard to trust.

What would you consider a pure software ecosystem?

I think that nothing pure exists in capitalism. And even when microsoft indeed have that strategy in several ocations, recently the most of the time they truly put money, time and people into the linux kernel development. I'm a free software user too, don't get me wrong, I just don't know a mid size or big project (like apache, gnome, kde, the linux kernel) that doesn't have strong support from the jerks. The tale of the independent developers who work driven by a philosophy is really nice, but is nothing but a tale, all the software is in a way or another related to the jerks, most of cases it is only possible because of the jerk's money.

Never trust anything Microsoft does .. ever. They got their start by thieving, they have a long history of screwing people/organizations .. the Gates foundation is involved in some extremely shady shit with their vaccines, and now that they cannot belittle and ignore Linux anymore, they are embracing it. But it is not for the benefit of anyone except Microsoft.

In the tech circles I like to follow, Gnome and KDE are not used, seen as bloated and insecure. Apache is eschewed in favor of nginx, or even the base httpd in OpenBSD (which is also an example of a project that did not have its roots in big money.) Although they get some funding today, they did not, for a long, long time.

I don't disagree with you: corps are definitely around and definitely contributing.. but they weren't always, and there are projects that are not unduly influenced by them. Going back to DOS and the Freeware/Shareware paradigm, there have always been developers who create their wares for free, and offer them for free, or at a small charge. Today, maybe you have to treat the path less traveled .. but it's out there.

I think it's also worth mentioning that, if you look at what these corps have TAKEN from the open source community, versus given, I think you'll find the are still owing! Minix, as an example, was secretly taken and deployed in almost all post-2007 Intel processors. OS X is re-hashed BSD. Playstations are also BSD based, the Switch.. etc.

What you say about the code they have taken is a big true, several "boxes" indeed runs linux, minix or bsd in a way, and the code is closed.

Apache http server may had it's better days a long time ago, but that foundation develop and support lots of high level projects besides their http server.

I think the limit is still in the hardware, but i can't see in the near future a way out to proprietary hardware. Peak oil will smash our way of life soon, we have no time to develop free and open hardware, we (the people) don't have the skills to make a simple usable transistor.

Hardware is definitely a tricky one. The Talos POWER9 stuff looks interesting, as does some of the RISC stuff.. but overall it is definitely not there yet.

Ahh well, we do the best with what we have, I guess.

That's true. We can't do much more. I enjoyed your post, we all lived (or still living) that process your wife is in, is an universal FOSS story.

Indeed. An oasis for the mind. It is so easy to fire up a web browser, think "what OSS rabbit hole shall I fall down today", and get started on something. Ansible was my latest foray into the unknown.. fun stuff.

hahah thanks for the laugh. i can just picture the eyes of death. wow, i'm very impressed @walkerland!!!

Glad you liked my little story. I'll try and capture those eyes of death on camera: they are quite shocking to see on a face that is normally beaming a smile!!

hahaha i, of course, would have no idea of what you're talking about ;)

We are such quirky oddballs @xwalkran. I just read this post again and I am giggling so much I am crying. I mean really. What is a person to do when they type in command and the computer responds "sorry". Sorry for WHAT?? I have never seen these eyes of death you speak of. ♥

Oh, your wife is cool :) I've tried to work with "Blender" couple of times, but without success, although I worked with linux more than 15 years

She is.. and blender, I'd say it is the most complex program I have ever seen. If you can use blender proficiently, you've definitely paid some dues.

I hope you fully appreciate what a saint your wife is. I have exceptional patience, and yet I wanted to whack you over the head with your computer halfway through 😂

She is quite saintly, I will admit. But, the best teachers challenge their students, right!?

My best teachers, more or less, said "Figure it out and feel bad for not knowing already." So I don't feel too badly. I am actually quite supportive, in that context.

Me too! LOL

It took years for my husband to convince me to leave XP Pro. I only did, to go to Windows 7 because nothing worked anymore as XP was no longer supported..

I admire @walkerland for her ability to learn not 1, but 2 new systems!

It's definitely worth making the jump. If you ever decide to check out the open source stuff and want a pointer or two, ask away. Can't help you with Blender, though...!

That stuff is so far beyond my capabilities it's not funny. The main reason I fought the change to 7 was due to the cognitive/memory issues from the Lyme. It's really, really hard to learn, and more importantly, retain, new things. That's one of the reasons I so admire @walkerland's ability to learn not 1, but 2 new systems!

This was hilarious, maybe should have put it under comedyopenmic too. Your wife is so cool and patient to learn all that in a short time tho, just reading those commands and my head started to turn. lol Probably should also start learning more about the open source World! Cheers for the laughs :)

Glad you liked it .. and absolutely, this stuff is truly worth checking out. Not only do you get to feel like a rebel every time you turn on your computer (if you.. turn it off.. that is), you get access to some really powerful stuff that normal users have no access to nor clue it even exists.

I'd not heard of that tag before and will keep it in mind. Thanks for the tip.

I don't use any proprietary software and I use Linux. I started my computer career back in the days of Atari and Commodore Vic, when someone who shall remain nameless here, said: "you'll never need more than 64k!" But I do understand the frustration of learning something new that is a bit over your head. My husband was much the same as you: "throw them into the deep end" philosophy. He too was a patient teacher though. I was not always a patient student! LOL

Atari and Vic 20, that is going back a bit. I fondly remember the 2600 .. never did any time on a Vic 20 though. An older kid convinced me that if I played the game "Pitfall" long enough, I'd come to the final prize, the "Red Ruby." There was no red ruby .. the game just went on and on.

I knew someone (my ex-sister-in-law) who played a game called Load Runner for23 hours straight and finally, the power pack blew up! I'd hate to think how long it could have gone on...

I guess I am old...I remember the excitement when pong came out! LOL

I have some great memories of playing "Breakout" with my grandmother, on a 2600. Kind of pong like..

You hit the ball up, it destroy blocks, and you hit the ball again. Progressively, it gets faster/harder. If you do it right, the ball can get stuck "above the bricks", and it destroys a bunch of bricks for you without you having to do anything.

I remember the first time that happened to us, my grandmother just about lost it. She got SO excited! "LOOK!! LOOK!!" She was in her sixties and as excited as anything that we'd figured something out.

Good times.

Wonderful memories...

I must say your wife sounds awfully patient and dedicated to your philosophical approach to software. I've gotten mine as far as accepting Ubuntu on a living room PC used for the entertainment center. But as for switching from Photoshop and Painter to Gimp and Krita, and getting drivers for the Wacom tablet to work in Linux, and the rest of the work-flows she's been using for years - that's a definite no.

Losing photoshop would be painful .. gimp is great but it is still no photoshop. You could probably run those under wine though, so she could likely keep photoshop and Painter. Always better to leave the dark side, fully, but hey.. if you can get her onto Linux with the exception of one or two apps, that's gotta be considered a win.

Maybe just remind her she's using the OS of the Dark Lords .. the OS of Mordor .. the OS of the digital slave. Maybe over time, you can wear her down!

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