Inspired by this post, plus some discussions on chat. This is a survey, and is intended to be a little more scientific than @FaheemMitha's question. If you think that something should be represented here, feel free to add it. Bear in mind that the results for the tacked-on response will be skewed, because some people will have seen the question but not your answer.

This survey has a couple different categories. Sorry about that; I didn't want to clog up Meta with a bunch of survey questions.

Here's how it works:

  1. If you have read this whole thread, upvote the answer that says so, even if you don't do anything else. This is to determine how many people have looked at the survey.
  2. Go through the answers. If one applies to you, upvote it.

Friendly reminder that since votes are anonymous, so is this survey.


Here's a helpful index of the possible responses, organized by topic.

How do you feel about free software

What desktop environment you use

Your choice in shell

This is for interactive console use, not shell scripting.

  • My assumption is that none of the questions about tools are mutually exclusive; eg., I upvoted bash and zsh because I use both.
    – jasonwryan
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:21
  • @jasonwryan the only things that are mutually exclusive are "I use free software because ethics" and "free software because ethics, but with exceptions"
    – strugee
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:29
  • What do downvotes mean here?
    – Anko
    Jan 30, 2014 at 21:37
  • 2
    @Anko nothing. hopefully no one downvotes anything, since that would mess up the totals unless you have 2k rep.
    – strugee
    Jan 30, 2014 at 21:40
  • How about "I use Linux/*NIX as a server I log in to from another OS"?
    – samiam
    Feb 2, 2014 at 23:51
  • @samiam go ahead and add it. I would also add a separate meta-"I've viewed this"-answer from that, so you can get accurate view counts. and make sure you update the index
    – strugee
    Feb 3, 2014 at 4:15
  • With 27 people who have already answered the survey, it would skew the results too much. I'm sure a lot of other people also use Windows/Mac (or even Android or Chrome) on the desktop then log in to Linux on another computer.
    – samiam
    Feb 3, 2014 at 4:21
  • 1
    Putting that many survey options as answers is a bit messy (it would be nicer if the options were grouped thematically). Also, if people upvote many of your answers in a row, the serial vote reversal script will undo these votes. It would be better to have one answer per theme and one comment per option, like [meta.tex] does: TeX Community Polls Feb 9, 2014 at 20:17
  • @Gilles I wish I'd thought of that... I'll keep it in mind in case we ever do this again
    – strugee
    Feb 9, 2014 at 20:25

17 Answers 17


I have read this question

I've read through the answers on this question. I have upvoted all those that apply to me.


I use bash as my interactive shell


I use free software for its utility

I use free software because it is the best available with regards to utility. I may or may not use free software for ethical reasons.


I prefer to use only free software for ethical reasons

I use free software because I believe it is more ethical and trustworthy than proprietary software. I would continue to use free software even if a proprietary solution came along that had better features or better support.

Note: this response applies to you if you do use proprietary software, but are making an effort to move to the type of situation outlined here. It also applies to you if you believe in this sort of thing but are forced to use proprietary software.

  • 3
    This and the other questions about free vs. proprietary software and ethics vs. utility are slightly confused, like an upside-down STOP sign -- recognizable but incorrect. The debate WRT ethics and utility is not about free vs. proprietary software, it is about free vs. non-free OPEN source ("free" being not as in beer). The utilitarian argument for OSS demarcates the technical difference between free and non-free, which is a difference as technical as the difference between open and closed source. These questions conflate free with non-free, then non-free but open with closed :\
    – goldilocks
    Jan 30, 2014 at 20:30

I use free software because it is technically and ethically superior

And I am OK with that...

  • you should upvote both answers.
    – strugee
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:30
  • 1
    I did; but the conjuction has a slightly different and--for me--important connotation that is not captured by either of the other statements. I thought there may be some others here that feel the same way.
    – jasonwryan
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:35
  • For example, this statement could be interpreted as "I choose to use technically lesser but ethically superior software", which is only partially true (ie., the latter).
    – jasonwryan
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:37

I am way too cool to use a bloated desktop environment

I use an alternative window manager, like awesomewm, xmonad, openbox, fluxbox, sawfish, ratpoison... the list goes on. Note that your window manager doesn't have to be tiling for this to apply to you.

  • I have been using FVWM1 for a long long time. I only recently made the transition to GNOME, mainly because using WPA from the command line in Linux is a moderate pain: janoszen.com/2013/03/26/using-wpa-from-the-linux-command-line
    – samiam
    Feb 2, 2014 at 23:56
  • 1
    @sam I've used wicd and more recently netctl to ease that wireless management pain. For a compromise, you could even run GNOME's network-manager-applet in a plain WM. Don't give up your shell! :D
    – Anko
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:34

I use GNOME 3

My preferred computing environment is GNOME.


I use zsh as my interactive shell


I use mostly free software for ethical reasons, but I make permanent exceptions

I use free software because I believe it is more ethical and trustworthy than proprietary software. I would generally continue to use free software even if a proprietary solution came along that had better features or better support, however, I have some proprietary software that I make a permanent exception for and use.

Note: this response doesn't apply to you if you are forced to use proprietary software due to something like company policy, when you would rather be using free software.


I use KDE 4

My preferred computing environment is KDE.


I use a GNOME-descended classical computing environment

My preferred computing environment is GNOME 2, but the interface fascists at the GNOME Foundation took my baby away from me. Therefore, I use either Cinammon, the Classic mode of GNOME 3, or MATE.


I use a low-resource desktop environment

I use either Xfce, LXDE, or some other desktop environment specifically targeted at low-resource machines.


I use a different desktop environment from those listed here

I use Razor-qt, Enlightenment, Pantheon, or some other equally obscure desktop environment not listed here.


I use free software because it is technically and ethically superior. I also think that open source has a chance at becoming somewhat secure. With regard to proprietary software, I think that what Snowden has revealed shows it cannot be trusted.

I've been using Zsh since (I believe) the mid 90s - it gets better and better.

I also use twm as my window manager - it's fast. You can configure menus and icons to actually help you rather than cause you to click on several different identical icons to figure out what runs in what window.

  • 1
    this answer is fine, but I assume you've also upvoted the appropriate questions?
    – strugee
    Jan 30, 2014 at 16:05

I use Unity

My preferred computing environment is Ubuntu's Unity.


I use a KDE-descended classical computing environment.

My preferred computing environment is KDE 3, but the KDE people totally betrayed me when they told me that KDE 4 was better. Therefore, I use Trinity.


I use something besides bash or zsh for my interactive shell

This could be anywhere from ksh to tcsh to fish.

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