How to get rid of the GAFAM? (part 1)

How to get rid of the GAFAM? (part 1)

  • Arnaud Malfoy
  • Saturday, Oct 7, 2017


monopoly money intel facebook google microsoft apple android


You could wonder why you would want to do that in the first place. First, because maybe you are tired of the poor performances of the system you are currently using. That’s how it started for me almost 10 years ago, I was so frustrated with Windows XP, that I had to completely format it regularly to get a decent speed. You could also start worrying about being so dependent on a single company for a lot of software or operating systems (like Google for Android, search, online ads, browser, or google docs). Being in the hands of a monopoly is never a good thing. The price can also play a major role, why should I pay the hidden tax for Microsoft Windows when I can get a better OS for free (and get the same computer cheaper without Windows) or why should I pay tree times more for an Apple product? Finally, and it’s probably the most important factor for a lot of people, privacy does not seem to matter for these companies who collect (sometimes illegally) tons of data on you to better predict what they can sell you. And there are numerous proofs after the numerous reports from Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, that they are working with the CIA/NSA to willingly leave vulnerabilities opened for them to hack in your computer.

NSA facebook google skype yahoo apple


Let’s start with Microsoft, I think that’s probably the easier one to get rid of. 10 years ago, my laptop was pre loaded with XP, and even after trying to get the latest drivers, defragment my hard drive, and following to the letter the best practices to keep my system running great, It kept crashing and being super slow. Windows is really badly built, uses twice as much as resources as Linux, and since it’s full of vulnerabilities (imagine a Swiss cheese), force you to use an anti virus that will slow your computer even more. Furthermore, it requires you to restart your computer and wait for the updates to be installed, sometimes for hours, so you end up wasting a lot of time. So I decided to make a leap of faith and installed Linux Ubuntu.

microsoft windows crash


Linux is an open source free Operating System so it’s completely transparent, the source code is available to you (contrary to Microsoft or Apple) and it is maintained by the community. The OS was getting better after each release (every 6 months) and nowadays it’s really a breeze to use it. It’s easy, you get tons of free software to do everything you want like Libre Offie or WPS for Office like software, GIMP/Inksape/Kdenlive/Audacity for image/video/audio editing, and Steam for video games. This is also probably the best platform if you are a developer/programmer. To install it, you just need to put the OS on a flash drive, connect it to your computer and restart it. Then you will see an Ubuntu screen guiding you through the install process. You can even if you wish dual boot your computer and play it safe (meaning that you can boot either Windows or Linux). Finally, Linux is not a one size fits all system, there are dozens of different Linux distribution based on the same source code but offering different graphic environment or functionalities so if you don’t like one distribution you can find another one that fits you better. For beginners, I would advise Ubuntu or Mint (stay away from Arch which is quite hard to configure for a beginner). Today I’m using exclusively Linux for my personal and work tasks and I could not be happier. I did not buy any Microsoft license or anti virus since then, my productivity increased drastically, I did not get a single virus in 10 years, and I use a truly open source Operating System.

linux distributions freedom choices beautiful


ubuntu screen


ubuntu screen banshee media player


But Microsoft is not only an Operating System, they also have a monopoly on professional software like the ubiquitous Office suite. A few years ago, I was still using MS Office (I did not have a choice where I was working) especially Excel at the office for complex spreadsheets and macros. It does crash often, and uses a lot of memory and at least at that time, was not handling so well different cores. Macros would regularly hang especially if you copy graphs to a 50 pages power point. The worse part was the implementation of the 64 bits version that was awful, it constantly crashed and I had to revert to the 32 bits version. And the 64 bits version required you to modify all your macros (not cool when you have to go through 200 macros). And that means also issues with VBA for PowerPoint, Word or Outlook….

microsoft office bug


libre office calc


WPS kingsoft spreadsheets


I was already using WPS at home, it’s significantly faster, looks modern, only the macro part ( as well as online editiing and a few other things) is not free but it’s a lot of cheaper than Microsoft. The presentation and word modules are also great. There is additionally Libre Office, which has a different UI but have pretty much the same functionalities compared to Microsoft and is completely free and open source (WPS is not open source on the other hand).

Wire encrypted video chat


Another software widely used is Skype. It used to be great, but it went down the hill since they got acquired by Microsoft. The bugs are numerous and it regularly crashes during video conferences (they also stopped the Linux version for a while). There are fortunately a lot of alternatives. I personally like Wire, it’s an encrypted video chat system, and the feed is really good, I never got disconnected when on a video conference. It’s also based in Switzerland which is quite reassuring when it comes to privacy (laws are a lot stricter there).

Post initially published on Steemit