Going back to free software - Random

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Sridhar Ratnakumar

Just for fun, I decided to become free of depending on Google/Microsoft/Apple (except for hardware, I suppose).

NixOS is the obvious choice, as the primary development machine. I plan to do that remotely however, because that would allow me to use a good laptop (great display, good battery life) from anywhere even if it is a Mac (I would be using just Chromium + Terminal?).

As a first question (perhaps @TheMatten knows?) - what's a good alternative to Gmail?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Incidentally, only after getting back to using Chrome, did I notice how sluggish Microsoft Edge felt in comparison (even though it uses the same browser engine).

TheMatten

(Stops tinkering with GrapheneOS installation :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: )
I use Tutanota, it's slightly less featured than e.g. Gmail but pretty nice overall - they even went as far as to make sure their app works on phones without Google Play Services :smile:

Tutanota is the secure email service, built in Germany. Use encrypted emails on all devices with our open source email client, mobile apps & desktop clients.
Sridhar Ratnakumar

I'm thinking of eventually switching to a command line (or emacs) email client as well. I want to really make full use of ssh/cli based UX.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

(I mean that kind of desire was what inspired, in part, neuron in the first place; so it makes sense to encourage that)

TheMatten

Ah - then I guess you want to find some service with support for common email protocols - like ProtonMail

ProtonMail is the world's largest secure email service, developed by CERN and MIT scientists. We are open source and protected by Swiss privacy law
Sridhar Ratnakumar

Do these things have good spam filtering? Gmail does it well (Outlook and Apple suck)

TheMatten

Tutanota has somewhat mixed results, but it's getting better - not sure about Proton, but they call their filter "smart"

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I want a mobile phone that runs NixOS, with some sort of framework that enables touch UX for interacting directly with CLI tools.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

... and data stored on Git repo.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Well, actually, in the ideal world: I don't need a mobile phone. Just give me a foldable 2-in-1 with LTE, touch screen, thunderbolt 3 and of course Linux support. Never gonna happen, I guess :laughing:

TheMatten

I guess you could approximate something like that with Termux

Termux is an Android terminal emulator and Linux environment app that works directly with no rooting or setup required. A minimal base system is installed automatically - additional packages are available using the APT package manager.
Sridhar Ratnakumar

Hmm, yea, could play with https://hackage.haskell.org/package/brick and see how it looks like from android

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Have you ever sat on a bus and wondered exactly which arguments tar accepts?

:laughing:

TheMatten

Well, I once ended up prototyping GHC plugin in bus using this thing :joy:

Sridhar Ratnakumar

@TheMatten what do you use to manage, and sync, passwords? my passwords are part of chrome sync

TheMatten

Bitwarden

Bitwarden, the open source password manager, makes it easy to generate and store unique passwords for any browser or device. Create your free account on the platform with end-to-end encryption and flexible integration options for you or your business.
Joel McCracken

I was JUST about to start down the path of figuring out how to set up and use bitwarden with nix

Joel McCracken

soo if you get that figured out, id like to crib =)

TheMatten

@Joel McCracken it has extensions for common browsers

Joel McCracken

I found that bitwarden-cli is just on nixpkgs so

Joel McCracken

I did install that last night

Joel McCracken

installing browser extensions with nix seems like it is still an open problem though

Sridhar Ratnakumar

This is scary; make me wanna give up on Google Docs/Drive/Gmail - https://twitter.com/miguelytob/status/1315749803041619981

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I already switched from Dropbox to Syncthing, which is working very well. I guess I should put my Google Photos in them though I'm not aware of a good Photos app that supports albums, while sensibly mapping them to the filesystem layout (for syncthing to sync)

TheMatten

Syncthing is unique with it's ability to work outside of home network without any special setup - and seems to be able to recover pretty gracefully from interruptions, though syncing big files this way can take a _lot_ of time

Torsten Schmits

I've been procrastinating migrating my primary email to my private server and my contacts to radicale for years…though I've been using syncthing for at least 5 now.
Any day now I should receive my Librem 5, that might give me enough motivation to get rid of google :upside_down:

TheMatten

At the end I've got VPS and set up Nextcould - I planned private email too, but ended up being satisfied with Tutanota, which seems to be pretty trustworthy and can probably keep my Github notifications more secure than my glued-together custom setup :big_smile:

TheMatten

BTW, If you want to get de-googled phone, I recommend Pixels :joy:
Seriously, they're part of group of few devices that supports locking bootloader with non-factory signatures - so you can install e.g. GrapheneOS and still keep your device mostly safe from physical access e.g. by thieves

Torsten Schmits

well I run Lineage on all my androids but I still use google on them

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Syncthing is good enough to sync markdown notes at least.

TheMatten

In maybe last year I learned that I can actually live just fine without having any Google app installed on my devices - I'm switching to Chromium right now, but I only really use hardened forks with removed Google integration, so it really isn't much different from using Firefox

Mason Mackaman

BTW, If you want to get de-googled phone, I recommend Pixels :joy:

I'm really excited for PinePhone

TheMatten

Recent interest in building Linux devices is amazing
I'm slightly cautious about using one as daily driver right now - Daniel Micay (dev of GrapheneOS) rightfully points out that these new devices are actually pretty insecure from both HW and SW side right now - but I can imagine using one in a few years

Sridhar Ratnakumar

https://www.businessinsider.com/google-users-locked-out-after-years-2020-10

"I'm angry at myself for not having even thought of the possibility I could lose my Google account with everything in it."
TheMatten

Why don't they provide option to download data from locked account, at least for some reasonable amount of time?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

What's good no-frills (simple) spreadsheet software on Linux?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

A decade ago I used Open Office. Felt like a sloth.

TheMatten

I use OnlyOffice

An office suite that combines text, spreadsheet and presentation editors allowing to create, view and edit local documents - ONLYOFFICE/DesktopEditors
Sridhar Ratnakumar

I should just write my own spreadsheet software using reflex FRP

Sridhar Ratnakumar

... readonly, based on Markdown tables :nerd:

Sridhar Ratnakumar

More generally, I think I should explore self-hosted or desktop software ... and preferring that over any cloud solutions (which can vanish in an instant). For password sync, this looks interesting: (syncthing + keepass): https://dev.to/rusty_sys_dev/switching-to-keepass-and-syncthing-for-password-management-1klh

I have wanted to become more secure with how I have handled my password management for a while now....
Sridhar Ratnakumar

qmmp is nice, if you want to play local music

Torsten Schmits

why not use pass? works nice with firefox and chrome, is in nixpkgs, uses a git repo

shaun smiley

I've really been wanting to degoogle my life, especially after I got my pinephone. This seems to be a fairly decent starting point: https://github.com/tycrek/degoogle

A huge list of alternatives to Google products. Privacy tips, tricks, and links. - tycrek/degoogle
shaun smiley

I've had several friends switch over to https://bitwarden.com/ self hosted.

Bitwarden, the open source password manager, makes it easy to generate and store unique passwords for any browser or device. Create your free account on the platform with end-to-end encryption and flexible integration options for you or your business.
Sridhar Ratnakumar

Torsten Schmits said:

why not use pass? works nice with firefox and chrome, is in nixpkgs, uses a git repo

Nice, that sounds more future-proof, easy to setup and safer. I suppose I can push the git repo to keybase encrypted git (rather than github) for an extra layer of security.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

How do you access pass's passwords from mobile (android)?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I'm thinking of a scenario of being at airport checkin, and wanting to lookup something (social security, or password, ...) from my phone ...

Torsten Schmits

pretty sure there are apps, you'll just need your pgp key on the phone

Sridhar Ratnakumar

But it shouldn't be a bother if I can whip out my X1 carbon with nergasm and access the local git working copy (no internet needed)

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I haven't really setup GPG (found no use for it yet), but I probably should

Vladimir Ciobanu

I use this workflow exactly, it's pretty much worked flawlessly for me. I replicated the git repo on my desktop and laptop, and all works. I got it working on my old android phone, but I don't remember how. I haven't really left the house for a significant amount of time for a while now due to COVID, so I'm not sure if that still works or not.

Joel McCracken

De-googling my life has been on my todo list for forever

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Same, lol. I created a note here; not sure if I'll ever get to finish it: https://www.srid.ca/uncloud.html

TheMatten

I now only have gmail and hangouts for legacy purposes - rest of my stuff is in different services or offline

Torsten Schmits

TheMatten said:

I now only have gmail and hangouts for legacy purposes - rest of my stuff is in different services or offline

what do you use for contacts?

TheMatten

I have imported backup and otherwise I'm deciding between Tutanota (can't sync with Android ATM AFAIK), Syncthing (DecSync) and Nextcloud (DAVx5)

TheMatten

I mean, I don't add traditional phone contacts often anymore, but I guess I should finally choose some proper solution

Sridhar Ratnakumar

What do you use for domain registration and name servers?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

what's a good tutorial on using gpg+pass, esp. with nixos?

Torsten Schmits

no idea! but there's not much to it, I'd say – do a gpg --quick-gen-key, add pass to your packages and run it!

Sridhar Ratnakumar

https://keyt.com/news/money-and-business/2020/11/12/google-photos-hooked-users-with-free-unlimited-storage-now-thats-changing/

Google will restrict free usage of a very popular service. The company will phase out unlimited storage on Google Photos, it announced Wednesday. The service, launched in 2015, allows users to easily upload, back up and sort through the thousands of images we fill our smartphones with. Any images users upload beyond June 1, 2021
Sridhar Ratnakumar

Any way to import photos from Google Photos into Linux/GNOME ecosystem (assuming file sync through Syncthing or Dropbox)? While maintaining photo metadata, like albums and datetime.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Folks who use DuckDuckGo instead of search,

What is the quality of search like in DDG? Both for programming searches, and general searches?

Vladimir Ciobanu

Generally fine, but I sometimes end up having to !g term to google search stuff. HOWEVER, because I live in Romania, and Google sometimes insists on showing me locally relevant results (which I usually don't want), DDG routinely gives me better results. YMMV if you're from the US/CA or care about local results more than I do.

Vladimir Ciobanu

But I recall I was looking for Monoid and it's the same word in Romanian, and I kept getting terrible thesis and write-ups, and the wiki entry was like way at the bottom of the first page.

Torsten Schmits

I've been using DDG for maybe four years and I sometimes resort to Google, but I don't remember that ever providing any additional results

TheMatten

I can do a lot of "domain-specific" search with it - want to find something in standard library of <language>? I can use !<language>. Something in dictionary? !<dictionary>. Results in my native language are somewhat mixed, but when I'm not getting useful results, I can use !sp (StartPage) to get Google results without touching Google directly.

Torsten Schmits

what's !<language>? what happens when you search for !haskell?

TheMatten

I mean, it may be more specific like !hoogle or !rustdoc compared to e.g. !clojure or !scala

Sridhar Ratnakumar

One benefit of DDG is that you can sidestep Google's censorship of controversial topics. At least, until DDG begins to do the same. Last I tried DDG for tech searches however I gained the impression that Google was better.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I wish there was a way to do search across both of them, and have the results "merged" in one view, highlighting the results that only appeared in one search engine (but not he other).

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Then, by using that merged-search over some weeks, I'd have better evaluation of the search quality between the two at the end of the trial period.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

TheMatten said:

I can use !sp (StartPage) to get Google results without touching Google directly.

TIL ... but how are you sure that's from Google? It just redirects to startpage.com

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Just verified. The results are not the same between StartPage and Google.

TheMatten

StartPage is anonymized Google - so it will differ when it comes to personalization

TheMatten

AFAIK it's basically about proxying searches to Google through them, so that individual searches cannot be linked to concrete users

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Ah, okay. Still, woud be interested in a site that merges search results between DDG and G

Mason Mackaman

I use DDG and have no complaints about the results, I only routinely use !g when I need something location specific, like a local business's number. I will also try !g sometimes out of desperation but it seldom helps.

Mason Mackaman

One benefit of DDG is that you can sidestep Google's censorship of controversial topics. At least, until DDG begins to do the same.

@Sridhar Ratnakumar Why do you say this? Isn't this one of the only things they have going for them? If they started doing that I'd just switch back to google, I care way more about that than the privacy.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

You mean why I say "At least, until DDG begins to do the same"? I don't know. I hope they don't; but we never know. I always took DDG's popularity to be more because of "no tracking [in logs/ cookies]" than "no censoring [in search index]".

Joel McCracken

DDG uses results from someone else right? so probably if they censor results, then ddg will

TheMatten

I guess they have both, but they seem to use e.g. Bing's results a lot

TheMatten

Example of DDG being good at probing other sources:
image.png

Sridhar Ratnakumar

gpg-agent is broken in nixpkgs; great

Sridhar Ratnakumar

https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/issues/35464

Issue description Changing pinentry-program to an alternative pinentry in ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf results in gpg not being able to find the pinentry. I specifically tried with pinentry-kwallet and ...
TheMatten

I wonder how hard would it be to make custom search proxy ala StartPage - I guess, by carefully building anonymized request that can be directly passed further, you could make it private from perspective of both the proxy and the search engine?

TheMatten

In that case, there would no need for trust when it comes to handling data - proxy would only pass request back and forth and serve web client, while the search engine would get bunch of stripped , unrelated requests from single server

TheMatten

(Ignoring the fact that you can search for personally identifiable things in the search engine)

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Sridhar Ratnakumar said:

I already switched from Dropbox to Syncthing, which is working very well. I guess I should put my Google Photos in them though I'm not aware of a good Photos app that supports albums, while sensibly mapping them to the filesystem layout (for syncthing to sync)

Update. Unfortunately, I just experienced data-loss in syncthing. The folders were intact, the files in them were lost. Strange. Luckily, these are not critical files. I'm led to think that I should just switch to Dropbox for sake of reliability ... but are there other approaches I should consider first?

Torsten Schmits

how did it happen in your case? the blogpost clearly shows user error

Sridhar Ratnakumar

No idea. I didn't do anything funky. Just normal use.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

I might decide to store critical files on Git (in addition to using sync like syncthing)

Torsten Schmits

are you not making backups?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

My critical files are all read-only. They are organized by year as folder names.

Torsten Schmits

a standard operating procedure would be to use e.g. syncthing in combination with borg-backup (that's what I use). using sync as a safety mechanism is fundamentally discouraged, as a rule

Torsten Schmits

now I have never had any malfunctions with syncthing, but I wouldn't expect it to be safe, especially since it may delete files as part of its intended functionality

Torsten Schmits

for a little bit of safety, syncthing also offers versioning, with a trashbin for deleted files

Torsten Schmits

though I have experienced some data loss due to having configured a folder incorrectly before

Sridhar Ratnakumar

What do you folks use when you self-host Git?

Incidentally, NixOS supports gitea

Sridhar Ratnakumar

/me runs away from anything Ruby

croy

I don't think I've used !g in like 5 years, and I've never really had cause to reflect about the search quality. It suits my needs (programming/finding science papers/generally being a human) just fine

Joel McCracken

occasionally I will use !g because I am looking for something and i can't find it via DDG, and just want to see if I can find it with google, but I don't think it has ever worked so that google finds it

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Epiphany, aka GNOME Web, is a pretty decent web browser alternative.

No extensions, rendering can be suboptimal and performance may be a tad bit slower ... but there is a delightful simplicity in its UX. (I don't need sync or password manager, since I started to use pass+git)

Mason Mackaman

@Sridhar Ratnakumar what's the ad situation like though?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Limited ad blocking (built-in); nothing sophisticated (eg: youtube ads are not fully blocked).

... but I don't give two hoots about YouTube as it is a slow behemoth (compared to say rumble) and owned by the no-longer-don't-do-evil Google. Just pipe youtube-dl to mpv. (EDIT: actually, mpv <youtube-url> works, awesome!)

Sridhar Ratnakumar

Epiphany also happens to be the only Linux browser that supports two-finger swipe for back/forward navigation.

Mason Mackaman

do you actually watch your youtube videos via the command line?

Sridhar Ratnakumar

The more I use epiphany and work on a ultraportable laptop, the more I realize how bloated many web apps are, and the more I appreciate command line apps (as well as 'classic' desktop apps). Gotta play with TUI in haskell (brick / reflex-vty) ...

Sridhar Ratnakumar

To be fair, the performance of these web apps are relative to the optimized browser/OS they run in. ChromeOS and Android for example runs them well, but not so much on an unknown browser running on Linux.

Sridhar Ratnakumar

It is a soft-lockin. Despite screaming "open standards, open web", the likes of Google are gently locking us down to their walled garden, without us even realizing it.

Mason Mackaman

I was recently thinking about making a project that lets you search youtube via their API, then when you click on a video it loads a page that has just the embedded video and the description, so I can block related videos on mobile. I figure something like that would also remove a lot of the bloat you're referring to?

Joel McCracken

I think many of us do realize it, but don't have a lot of say over what happens

Joel McCracken

companies push for openness when it benefits them, but also behave in a closed manner when it benefits them