05 November 2016

Escape From The Walled Garden: Honeymoon

I'm typing this latest cursory missive on an Intel NUC i5 running Debian Linux and bearing the full weight of a lifelong desire for a more "stable" computing life than Apple seems willing to provide. Perhaps that's a strange complaint from someone whose 2006 MacBook still runs and has managed to be instrumental in almost everything I've created for the last decade, including this entire blog. My 2001 iMac also ran forever and I expect it would start right up today if I had it handy. But that's not all those two machines have in common: both were left high and dry through planned obsolescence years before any reasonable consumer would have considered replacing them, and I've now had just enough of that song and dance to make a run for it.

In sentiments that I imagine are not particularly unique or interesting, I must confess that I'm not sure what the point is of having superior hardware if the OS and software are designed to stop working with it every few years, and since I've never been willing or able to pay the ever-steeper price of keeping up with the Jobses, the whole thing has been enormously frustrating for a long time. Ditto the wider ambivalence about long-term environmental impacts of all this "consumption," impacts which I trust will come home to roost in a more immediate way just a tick beyond some yet-to-be-understood point of no return. I hate to toe the line of such holier-than-thou hypocrisy, but here's putting it on the record anyway that I've at least considered this side of the issue, albeit while freely admitting that I don't quite have the courage to wholly refuse to participate.

And so while attempting to remain in control of my callow newbie enthusiasm, I'm going to give Linux and it's barely-adequate suite of musical accoutrements a fair shot to prove itself a worthy alternative. Most of that enthusiasm was sapped rather quickly as I attempted to make playdates for my Debian system with various devices, among which the printer and the Zoom H1 have proven amenable while the scanner and bluetooth speaker have not. And yes, gentle composers, I am committing to attempt to survive with MuseScore, at least for a while, and to ponder learning a typesetting program that could handle the thornier jobs. Sibelius has been very much (I'm sure many older folk would say too much) a part of my musical identity since the age of 18, and I'm not sure I've fully grasped what life will look like without it. At the same time, its recent history makes me just as nervous as does Apple's, albeit for rather different reasons; and further, 90% of what I write is "lines and dots" music anyway, even if those lines and dots sometimes come in waves. I will of course be sure to report progress (or lack thereof) as circumstances dictate.

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