Written by Michael Cole - August 30th 2015

I'm going to go outside of the norm a little, like I did with the 4th post "Thoughts on Linux". I'll try to keep it focused and to the point. This will lead into some future technical posts, as it covers a shift in my focus.

I also want to state that all of this is based on information available on various sites on the Internet with a little of my opinion mixed in. I am not directly making any claims against any of the operating systems or companies.

I'm going to take a moment to talk about privacy. I know it's not heavily technical on the surface, but lately it is becoming more and more of an issue. I won't pretend to be a security expert by any means. So firstly people and companies are worried about governments spying on them. I'm not going into that. I know various services have been broken into, from OPM, Ashley Madison, even old tax returns at the IRS. That could be a good technical discussion, but not one I want to start here. So then what are we going to talk about here?

Well I like various Operating Systems. My focus as of getting this website has been to try to move away from Linux to various BSDs. Documenting things that I am finding out a long the way, in order to help others, and myself. So for the most part I have posted about things relating to servers. I do have a FreeBSD laptop, but mostly I have used Windows or MacOS X for desktops. The reason for this has been previous jobs would let me get laptops and I usually picked Macs. They were great if you didn't have to pay for them. Now that I am not in those jobs, I mainly use Windows. At work it's not a choice. I get what I get, and it's locked down with the software they want me to use. That's fine I understand the reasons behind that. At home I have 3 Windows machines.

One is a media center in my bedroom. At the time when I got it, Bluray playing was the primary focus, and Windows with software was the easiest way to make that happen. That machine is an older, underpowered, 2GB of RAM little AMD box. Now that Windows has become more massive, it's struggling to run on that box anyways.

The other 2 are related to gaming. The one upstairs is more for classic gaming, and it's an older AMD as well. The one downstairs is my main modern gaming machine. But since I am on it a lot, I end up checking emails, and performing many other tasks on it.

So what does this have to do with privacy. Well as everyone knows Windows 10 was released, and it's a free upgrade for anyone who has Windows 7 or 8. All of my machines are Windows 7 as I didn't like Windows 8. I tried the Preview Releases of 10 in a virtual machine and I enjoyed it. So I reserved Windows 10 on all of these machines. Then I start noticing some other things which I won't go into in detail, there are tons of other sites that cover issues concerning privacy with Windows 10. Disabling a lot of the features is possible, but with Windows 10's forced updates, can I really control that. So fine I decide to hold off on upgrading. In fact I have traditionally waited until a service pack is released on Windows operating systems so I feel like less of a beta tester.

So now that Windows 10 is on hold, I'm still on Windows 7. Well that's fine right, why change, it's all working and getting gaming to work on another OS will be tough anyways. I was presuming that very thought. But Microsoft started pushing their spyware in Windows 7 and 8 patches, as a preparation for people who would update.

And I know, I don't really do anything important, I don't have anything to hide. So why does it matter. The biggest issue I have is just the principal behind it. I don't want you to have my data unless I give it to you. Even if it allows the service to do really cool things, I'm still not intested.

While looking at all of this I also saw that Ubuntu with Unity installed, seems to do the same thing. So the question is where does it stop? Who is spying on you? What are they doing with your data?

And it really makes sense. Microsoft had very low adoption of Windows 8, people are still using XP. And at least for the XP users, they won't be getting any weird updates from Microsoft, although they will have serious security issues. But if they release an OS free for the first year, most people will update right away. Even the cost after the first year seems low for Microsoft. But how will they make up the cost. Well they have an app store (a lot of operating systems do), maybe they can make some money up there. If you look many companies use targeted ad revenue. And this is where the spyware comes in. If the system knows what you want, it can present you with things you may want but didn't specifically want. This is all speculation, so take it as such.

Even though this barely matters in the scope of things. I am going to try my best to eliminate Windows from my house. And right now the priority to do that seems higher than removing Linux. So as I continue to do both I will try to update here, when I see something I find interesting. The cool news is that means I will cover more desktop stuff too, not just server stuff.

Now with that explanation out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff. I think maybe I will work on the media center first as it is running out of resources anyways. I'll try some things and try to post on it soon. Wish me luck!