I’ve been into “alternative” computer software since I started using Linux as my main operating system in about 2005. The main reason has been convenience, as I got in the habit of developing on Linux and it would be hard to switch. I did have a brief time where I was interested in purist free software ideology, but I’m more pragmatic now, and don’t proselytise much. Except in this post, where I’ll talk about three of my favourite newish programs.
Keybase sort of feels like an instant messenger client, but it’s automatically end-to-end encrypted and also has encrypted cloud storage, which I find extremely useful. The cloud storage is automatically mounted as a directory in your file system, making it very easy to use. You can also have encrypted private git repositories, create teams to work on them and/or share files with, etc etc.
The main downside for me is just that not many people are on it. My wife, a good friend, and a close work collaborator are, so it’s still very useful. Recently I wanted to email an acquaintance about a very sensitive matter and I’d have liked it to be encrypted. It would have been trivial had he been on Keybase. It’d be great to see more of you on there 🙂
LBRY is a blockchain-based file distribution platform and marketplace. You can approximately view it as an uncensorable YouTube alternative (it’s mostly videos, though you can actually use it for any file), with private property rights for the name/URL of a file, and a distributed storage for the file (sort of analogous to BitTorrent, but more decentralised using voodoo that I don’t understand). So you can set a price if you want, buy content that is for sale, or tip your favourite creators.
Because of the decentralised nature of LBRY, some features you might expect (commenting, for example) are harder to implement and not there yet. But they’re working on it.
Brave is a web browser that has several awesome privacy-respecting features. Ads are blocked by default, and eventually you’ll be able to (optionally) earn BAT (basic attention token) for looking at ads which companies have purchased with BAT. There’s also two levels of private browsing: normal private browsing and super-duper private browsing with Tor, which I’ve never used on its own (it seemed too hard). I love being able to use Tor with a simple click.