Computing - About: Robin Wils's website



Introduction to Free Software

Introduction to Free Software and the Liberation of Cyberspace

This video might be useful to understand some of the more difficult words.

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Operating systems and distros

Operating system

My main laptop runs Devuan.

I used to run a combination of PureOS and Devuan with the GNU Guix package manager. Devuan for system V init and my non-free wifi drivers. PureOS so that I would be closer to the free software philosophy.

This was not a great setup. PureOS uses systemd so that conflicted with other packages. GNU Guix had some nice features but compiling wasted my time. GNU Guix seems great if it is your only package manager (GuixSD).

I have tried a couple of different distros and I personally think that convience and productivity matters. GuixSD is the distro which I want to run but I can't run it yet.


I use emacs for editing files. I have used vim before, but emacs seems to impress me more. I would recommend all vi/vim/... users to at least give emacs a try. You can use the vi/vim/... keybindings on emacs by using the "evil-mode" package.

Emacs has a nice plugin system and is more than just an editor. I used the window manager "EXWM" in the past which is in fact also an emacs package. It can be convient if you tweak it. The default keybindings conflict with the keybindings of other apps.

I don't recommend EXWM to new users. Openbox and/or XFCE might be a better choice for new users.

Package management

Bunny is the shell script wrapper that I used for installing and updating nix packages. The idea of bunny is that one should only learn one set of commands for package management. It makes switching to another package manager a lot easier. I don't use bunny anymore nowadays.

Other distros

The FSF is better at explaining this than I am. I am not against people who use the following distros but I won't like to use one of those myself. I would prefer to use one of these distros .

My keyboard

"Weird" keyboard layout

The keyboard layout which I use is the Dvorak layout. People have taken a picture of my keyboard and posted it on 9gag. They did this without my permission because it looks "weird". Yes, I know 9gag... a proprietary website which contains (pretty badly made) internet jokes. Some people apparently have nothing better to do.

Are internet memes overrated? contains more info about internet memes.

Why would someone use this layout?

The Dvorak keyboard layout.

Picture of the Dvorak layout - Public Domain licensed.

Well, look at it like this. We use QWERTY since people created that for typewriters so people knew the layout already. A typewriter needed a special layout like QWERTY since typewriters work with metal arms and those could jam.

People created the Dvorak layout to replace QWERTY. That layout claims to require less finger movement which is also why many people claim that your typing speed increases when you use Dvorak. I personally find the Dvorak layout very comfortable to type on. I don't use it to improve my typing speed.

World's fastest typist

The world's current fastest typist is Barbara Blackburn. She broke the world record by using a Dvorak keyboard.


Not everyone knows how to type on a Dvorak keyboard layout. This means that some cybercriminals also don't know the layout. It is not a lot of extra security, but everything that helps, helps.

Possible Dvorak issues

Many people who use Dvorak (including me) forget how to type on their other keyboard layout (QWERTY for example).

ErgoDox EZ

I am a proud owner of an ErgoDox EZ keyboard. It is expensive, but it is worth it. The only problem that I have with this keyboard is that I love it too much. Typing on a non-ergonomic keyboard like the keyboard which my laptop has is not as comfortable. I also miss my keyboard shortcuts and layers on other keyboards.

The ErgoDox EZ keyboard can emulate other layouts so I can emulate QWERTY. This is very useful when I have to use a virtual machine. Some virtual machines are preconfigured with the QWERTY layout. I can use this keyboard to emulate QWERTY so that I can easily change the default keyboard layout of the virtual machine to Dvorak.

My proprietary programs

My proprietary programs

The college that I go to called "Hogeschool PXL" WARNING this site contains proprietary or unlicensed JS! requires me to use windows for some programs. I don't like to use windows since I don't like proprietary software. I run windows 10 in a QEMU KVM.

I support the FSF, but I won't force anyone to use a free distro . I try to replace my not GPL licensed software with GPL licensed alternatives. I prefer the GPL license over the most licenses unless it is for a website or something specific.

GNU+Linux naming controversy

GNU+Linux naming controversy

I honestly don't agree with any of the used names. Linux is the most used kernel and GNU is a common set of tools. Other kernels and tools exist. The distro name is probably the clearest thing that you can use. Another option is to just call the operating systems "distros". Distro is probably also a wrong term since it could refer to a set of software components.

Referring to it as GNU+Linux means that you exclude some operating systems. Systems with BusyBox instead of GNU and systems which use the GNU Hurd are not included when you use the GNU+Linux term.

I personally prefer to use GNU+Linux over Linux since I like to give the GNU project credit. Many people know about Linux, but some people haven't heard about GNU. I don't have a solution for this naming issue, but I currently like to call it a distro.

GNU+Linux also feels like a better term as GNU/Linux because some see a "/" sign as an "or". I usually refer to a system by using the distro name. I use the term GNU+Linux as well.

Richard Stallman (RMS)

Richard Stallman (RMS)

Some things which RMS says are pretty good in my opinion, but I don't agree with all of his statements. He is not your most average person.

I personally think that he at least deserves some respect. Computing probably wouldn't be the same without him.

I also have some respect for Linus Torvalds, but I look up to RMS more. Mainly because of the free software movement which he founded.

He started the mass-collaboration GNU project. The GPL license is probably the most important thing that he originally wrote when it comes to freedom.

The GNU project contains a lot of commands which many use daily on GNU+Linux. It also contains GCC, which is still one of the most popular compilers today. GCC is the standard compiler of most GNU and Linux related projects. There are a lot of cool things like GNU Emacs which are a part of the GNU project.