S Aufrecht

Computers should be safe, moral, sane, usable, and productive. From advertising to crashes to privacy problems to slave-made ingredients, they mostly aren’t.

Consider a Computer User Bill of Rights1: here’s how I configure a desktop or laptop computer to realize some of these rights.

  • Safe
    • The user never loses any data.
    • The user’s data, and any data they are entrusted with, is reasonably secure.
    • The user’s privacy is reasonably protected.
    • The user is not harmed by using the computer.
  • Sane
    • The user never see advertisements.
    • The user’s computer computer never crashes or ignores them.
    • Nothing ever blinks, blips, beeps, or bobble, or bustles.
    • Computer interfaces place the user in a padded room, not a cliff top.
  • Usable
    • Text is legible.
    • Screen colors don’t hurt the user’s eyes or ruin their sleep
    • The user never sees individual pixels
    • The user’s tools fit on screen, without cruft, chrome, or craze to distract.

Other requirements are perhaps less universal:

  • Moral2
    • I use only free and open source software.
    • I have only freely licensed, fair use, or purchased media.
    • I don’t benefit from slavery or cruelty3.
  • Productive
    • Nothing is skeumorphic
    • I do almost everything with my keyboard.
    • I work on Python code in an Emacs IDE.
    • I work on Docbook XML in an Emacs IDE.

Given the traffic my ergonomic sit-stand desk posts still get, somebody will want to read how I’ve tackled these other requirements. I’m starting by publishing my instructions, and hope to follow up with more by topic. These followups will be helpful if you

  • share some of these requirements
  • are overwhelmed by choices and just want to know what to do4
  • are an iconoclast, an unconventional eccentric who marches to the beat of a different drummer.5

Many of these things are doable on Mac, Windows, and other closed platforms, so don’t despair if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the Year of Linux on the Desktop.