Once upon a time, I would tinker with everything.
My phone would run a custom kernel, a custom ROM, whatever I could do to it. My iPod would be jailbroken. When I first bought an Apple laptop, I put Linux on it - which involved a great deal of tinkering to work smoothly. All of my other computers ran some version of Linux, and I’d always be changing window manager, distro, playing with new and shiny and configuring everything I could. And I learned a lot!
Now I just run the OS that came on my laptop, with no issues.
I usually deploy side projects as docker images to k8s/heroku/dokku/whatever means I don’t need to SSH into something and manage a “real machine” as often.
The difference? When I get home from writing code all day at work and have the energy to work on a side project, I don’t want to be fixing issues with some flaky DIY setup. I don’t want to try to do something and discover that my server is down, or something is broken because I forgot which Raspberry Pi it was running on. I don’t want my phone to boot loop because of a weird bug in whatever ROM I am using. I want it to just be a phone, and go back in my pocket as soon as I am done with it.
I still like tinkering, but I don’t like mandatory tinkering, tinkering that happens because something I rely on has broken. I’m happier to pay a subscription for someone else to manage my things for me.
I think the difference is a change in mindset. I’ve gone from seeing my tools themselves as small projects that help me build bigger projects, to just being tools that let me get shit done. If a tool breaks, I can replace it/return it/whatever.
That all being said, I think everyone should spend some time tinkering. I learned an awful lot from a few years of customising my setup, and well… stuff breaking. I just don’t want to have to fix my own things any more, if I can help it.
though this does totally miss that I’m currently trying to get a dell blade setup in my house, but that’s not the point 🙈there’s still some learning I want to get done there!