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#30DayFOSSChallenge - Week 3


[This is a series: The FOSS Challenge | Week 0 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Reflections]

Not much to say at the top this week, so let's jump right in.


Studying (Anki)

This week I've been studying French. I learned a little bit in College, many years ago, and decided to pick it up again. One of the tools I've always relied on for studying is flashcards.

Anki is ridiculously easy to use, and of course FOSS. There's iPhone, Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows versions available, and a synchronization tool on their website. Unlike many FOSS synchronization tools, this one is free and doesn't need you to host anything. Just make an account and go.

Also on the website are many user submitted decks available to use for studing all sorts of things. You can also make your own if you're so inclined. I haven't used it but there also appears to be an addon for importing from Quizlet.


Installing Linux

I am a long time Linux user and lover. I'm also pretty well versed with computers. I don't remember how I originally learned, or what the struggle was like when I first installed linux on a computer.

But this weekend, my partner decided he wanted to try Linux. He is not a computer person. He knows the software he uses, and he can solve problems with guides and videos. But he's only ever used Windows, and he has no experience with programming or more technical computers things.

So we settled on Linux Mint and got started. At first I wanted to be entirely hands-off and just see what the process was like for him. But it quickly became clear that even with the very nice step-by-step instructions on the Linux Mint website, the hurdles would've stopped him entirely.

He doesn't know what an ISO file is, or what it means to burn it to a USB stick. He doesn't know about the BIOS, or changing the boot options. Or adding something to the secure boot. And those are all the first steps. I ended up walking him through that.

Once we were into the live usb, it was smooth sailing. The only additional input I gave was to help set up LUKS encryption, because he wants it due to the sensitive nature of his work. Everything else was straightforward enough for him to do on his own.

After it was installed I showed him how to update and get new software, and he's taken it from there. Last I heard he was tweaking his desktop theme and toolbars.

This was humbling for me. Linux Mint is what we always tell beginners to try. And once you're in it, it is super beginner friendly! But the documents on the website are not nearly enough for a casual computer user to get it installed. Some might say that's acceptable, but I think we need to do better. In the future I'll be looking for videos and other materials that better guide through (and actually explain) those early steps.

If you want to see his version of this same story, take a look at his mastodon.


I do Yoga at home. It helps me feel relaxed and flexible and feel like I exercised on days that I don't get out enough. I like it quite a bit. Right now I use Down Dog, which does a pretty excellent job of generating a routine based on some parameters (experience, length, type of routine) and then walking you through it with both voice guide and visuals.

I have found nothing that even kind of replaces this in the FOSS world so far. I looked for a bit myself, and asked mastodon. The post got boosted a few times (thanks!) but nobody had answers for me.

Of course, I could use videos instead of software. I also asked if there was anyone doing Yoga routines on PeerTube. Again I couldn't find anything. I'm afraid this is a very specific thing that might be missing from the FOSS world.

If you have any leads on this, let me know!

What Others Are Up To

This week I asked non-tech people what FOSS software they're using/familiar with. The thread got a lot of great answers. Here's some that stood out to me, and that you might want to use yourself, or mention to others when trying to explain FOSS:

Desktop Apps:

Phone Apps:

There's more in the thread, I couldn't list them all.

Final Thoughts

This week has me thinking a lot about reaching non-tech people. There's a lot of great FOSS software many are already using. And there's a lot of great software they might be happy to use if properly introduced to it.

But the difficulties need to be minimized as much as possible, either by better designs or better documentation. And a lot more attention needs to be paid to the experiences of absolute beginners, especially those that might be discouraged by the challenges. In a way we there's a survivorship bias. Everyone using a give product made it through the initial hurdles, so we're all going to agree that the process is good enough. We need to figure out the cases where someone wouldn't make it through.

PS: Have thoughts about this post? Email me at or message me on mastodon at