Who makes most of their computing devices? A person who customizes the heck out of their hardware or software, or a person who uses their devices as delivered from the manufacturer?
Although no one can use a device without no customization at all, I have recently started to prefer to use my operating systems and devices with as less customizations as possible. I have the said preference for both desktop and mobile devices, but for different reasons.
Mobile Devices: Manufacturers Know the Best
I am focusing on Android devices here. Mobile devices are so much different from each other. Unlike desktop computers, there is no single operating system that can operate in all the Android devices. It is true that all of their operating systems use Android as a base, but it is highly customized for each mobile phone model, to the point that the OS built for one model can’t work properly on another model, even if both models were created by the same company.
The reason behind the compatibility issue is that the hardware of each device are very different. If we take the camera of a mobile phone for an example, in one model it can be using totally different technology than another. So, the best app for that camera would be the one that came with the device by default. If I use some generic camera app from the Play Store, it would not be able to make use of the full potential of the camera hardware.
The default set of applications such as dialer and SMS would be specially created as well. For an example, a SMS app created for a Single-SIM phone would not work well in a Dual-SIM phone.
I used to root my phones and flash Custom ROMs (Android jargon for “Installing generic OSes”.) on them. But I realized that I am doing a disservice to myself by replacing the custom built OS that is fully optimized for my unique phone model with a generic catch-em-all OS. These third party OSes would not know how to manage my devices’ components well, and how to optimize the battery usage.
So, I have realized that the manufacturers know best, and would not replace manufacturer provided software for device-bound functionalities, until such a day dawns when each device is uniform as desktop computers today are.
Desktop: I am too lazy to customize over and over again.
I like to reinstall my OS at least once an year, to “keep everything clean”. More often than not, when a new version of Ubuntu gets released, I like to make a fresh install of it. So I like to keep it very close to the default installation. I customize myself to be familiar with the default installation, instead of making the OS match my expectations. In away, I get my preferred state of the OS right out of the box. Well, almost, I still have to install Chrome by downloading a DEB, and couple of packages (Git, PHP, etc.) through APT, and NetBeans by downloading an archive.
An added benefit is that, as I am used to the vendor defaults, I can hop into a remote server or someone else’s computer, and feel at home most of the time, given that that machine is not customized beyond recognizability.
May be I should write a bit about my usual minimal customizations.