Dragora, a Philosophy of Life

As many of my friends and family know, I volunteer for the Dragora Project, an independent fully-free GNU/Linux distribution. Dragora is a very important part of my life because it opened up a new way of thought for me. Not just in my computing life but also in my day-to-day life. This new way of thought is fairly interesting and something that I find quite valuable.

Dragora as a concept comes in 4 parts: freedom, independence, community, simplicity. Each of these parts are valid concepts in computing but also in personal life, as I've found out. Let's unpack.

Freedom: As mentioned in my brief descriptor of Dragora, it is a fully-free GNU/Linux distribution. What does that really mean? Well, it has a couple meanings. Firstly, it means that the Free Software Foundation(FSF) has deemed Dragora a fully-free distro. This title means that the distro doesn't contain any non-free software or kernel modules or drivers. However, it also means that their package repo also contains no non-free software and that they don't support1 any non-free software. What this means, in a nut shell, you have all the freedom. Secondly, this means you have the most control over your system. Since all the software is free, you are able to control it all - which is great!

That's fantastic and all, but why does this matter? Well, this is important because you know that the software you are running isn't controlling you or mistreating you. If you have the hunch that it is mistreating you, you can easily look at the source and find out for yourself!

Okay, okay, how does this apply to personal life? This is fairly easy to explain so I'll be brief. Firstly, freedom is good. You want freedom! No one wants to be controlled! Having full control over your life is good too. It's your life, you control it. That's it. Pretty obvious, isn't it?

Independence: This is another easy one - Dragora not being based from any other GNU/Linux distro means that it is an independent distro. This allows us to control what version of a software we have and when we want it! We get to pick what the direction of the project is, not someone else. Independence from a specific company is also good because if the company goes in a specific direction that you don't like, you don't have to go with it! Free software tends to give you independence and allows you to decide what you want to run!

Much like freedom, independence is very easy to apply to your life. If you constantly have to rely on a person (or persons) or company, you are at their will. Thus, it is important to have independence from them. Granted that some reliance is needed such as in a marriage or in a community but it is a good idea to be able to exist on your own and survive like that too!

Community: Dragora is very serious when it comes to community. The community isn't very big, maybe 30 people at the most, but we are a strong one! Together we are the backbone and nerve system of a great distro. We keep the community alive on the freenode #dragora IRC. The community helps users on the channel, build packages, hack solutions, and help with Dragora itself. Without the community, Dragora would be nothing!

Community is also extremely important for personal life too. I've found out that having a community that keeps you accountable is incredibly useful. Having people to bounce ideas off of and give you criticism when you need it - it's all great stuff to have! I have, for the past year, dove head first into community with my church and it has been amazing to see how I've grown, having people around me that care for me, guide me, and enjoy life with me.

Simplicity: Before we can talk about simplicity we first have to define what "simplicity" is. A lot of people will get simplicity confused with ease-of-use. These are two fundamentally different concepts - one dealing with complexity and the other with amount of skill needed. An analogy that I read on reddit a while ago goes something like this:

Imagine you have 2 cars: one standard (stick-shift) and one automatic. The standard car requires more skill and knowledge to operate than the automatic one. What this means is the automatic car is easy to use. If we look at the mechanics of the cars, you would find that the standard car would have a far simpler system, consisting of less special technology in order to predict when to shift gears. The automatic car would be far more complex in order to do just that. Therefore, the standard car, although harder to use, is simpler than the automatic.

A key point to get out of that analogy is that the simple option isn't always the easiest option! However, when things go wrong with a simple system, they are easier to fix than a complex one. This is an important concept for computing because things break all the time! When you need to get into to fix things, it's much better to have a bunch of simple programs to deal with.

Applying this to life isn't easy but it sure is helpful! I have found that keeping things simple in my life has made me more relaxed, less stressed, more caring for others, happier, etc. I don't really have any advice as to how to make a simple life but I believe it starts with minimizing the amount of social media surfing you do. If you're on all the major social medias, maybe consider putting a few down. What this will do is take your mind off of everyone else and wanting to tell everyone else what you're doing. It's totally okay to mind your own business! Once you get that down, I recommend trying to keep friendships personal and not just text or message the person. Call them or go hang out with them on a regular basis. Don't play on your phone. Just enjoy your surroundings and the company. From there, the rest is natural and you'll be living a simpler life in no time!

My explanation may have made no sense - that's okay! Just keep those ideas in your head: freedom, independence, community, simplicity. Keeping those on the mind will help you look at situations through their lens, granting you the ability to apply them. In the end, these concepts have helped me out a great deal and I'm a huge fan. Dragora is not only my favorite GNU/Linux distro but also one of my favorite concepts!



By "support" I mean that they don't have packages built for non-free software nor will any volunteer help with the installation of non-free software on the project's areas (IRC, website, etc.). If you do, however, need non-free software you are still free to install it yourself or have a volunteer help you on a private chat or site.

Author: Kevin "The Nuclear" Bloom