I’m an academic librarian and I saw Alison speak at a library conference a few years ago. She was great and mentioned she was transitioning to Linux, so I’ve been waiting for this interview for a bit (plus, I’m just behind on posting these). Alison lists some great privacy tools and Subgraph, a privacy-centric operating system. Sadly, a lot of these privacy tools are still tough to use. Like I’m fairly technical and I have trouble with PGP and email. But if the tools are too easy to use, they’re often too easy to crack. Which is why advocates like Alison are so important.
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- Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Alison Macrina and I’m the director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative that aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about privacy rights and privacy-enhancing technologies. I’m also a core member of The Tor Project.
- Why do you use Linux?
I’ve been involved in the far-left political movement work for a long time, and a few years ago I got interested in free software as a continuation of that—I started to really resent the idea that a handful of corporations had control over all of my software choices. I started gradually adopting more free software and eventually made the switch to Linux on the desktop full time this year.
- What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I’m using Subgraph OS, which is still in alpha. Subgraph is an amazing new project that’s prioritizing usable privacy and security by default. I also use Debian when I’m not using Subgraph.
- What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
GNOME, just because I’m used to it and I like the simplicity. I like other desktop environments too, though. For example, I think Cinnamon is a great choice for folks switching from Windows 7 to Linux, because it’s so visually similar.
- What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
Probably the most important piece of free software I use is Tor Browser. At this point, I won’t do any browsing without it. I want the peace of mind knowing that I’m not being tracked. I also think it’s important to “eat my own dogfood,” since I’m a Tor Project member and huge Tor advocate.
- What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon.
- Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
I am kind of a privacy weirdo so I’d prefer not to, but also I don’t have anything on my desktop except for my desktop background, which is Goya’s “La Maja Desnuda.”
Interview conducted June 20, 2016
The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.
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