Home > GeekSpeak, gNewSense, Richard Stallman > Eight Distros a Week: gNewSense 1.1

Eight Distros a Week: gNewSense 1.1

February 13, 2008

[This is the fifth in an eight-part series on distros I use. These observations are based on distros running on one or more of the following hardware: Dell Inspiron 5000 laptop, an brandless Pentium III-based desktop, an IBM PL 300 Pentium II, an iMac G3 (Indigo) and an iBook G3. As the auto commercials say, your mileage may vary.]

A couple of Saturdays ago, I appeared as a guest on KUSP’s GeekSpeak radio show to talk about Free Software, and about two-thirds of what I said on the radio was about gNewSense.

Truth in advertising: I was on with Richard Stallman, who the panelists really wanted to speak to (and rightfully so), and my total contribution to the hour-long radio show was three sentences. But two sentences out of three praising gNewSense isn’t bad.

What I said on the show was that gNewSense was the only completely free-as-in-freedom distros I would recommend, and that I have already had one user converted from a proprietary OS to gNewSense.

The third sentence — I corrected the host on how to pronounce my name, I think.

Nevertheless, of all the distros providing true digital freedom, gNewSense stands out as probably the best performing and most stable distro available. To those for whom complete free-as-in-freedom programs with the distro is of vital importance, gNewSense provides suitable alternatives to other-than-free (for whatever reason) software; Burning Dog, for example, is the free (albeit domesticated?) replacement for Firefox as a Web browser. Rhythmbox works well on a PIII, as does Serpentine.

The KDE version of gNewSense, which I ran on the PIII desktop, ran through its paces flawlessly, although the caveat here is that I didn’t have an Internet connection and couldn’t put it through some on-line tests that I did with the laptop.

Whether you prefer GNOME or KDE — and I don’t mean to start a flame war here, and past posts have outlined where my desktop loyalties lie — bear in mind that both desktops run the OS suitably and makes a strong argument for running completely free.

Further, Ireland is beginning to stand out as a digital leader in Europe — both gNewSense and Linux Mint (which we’ll talk about tomorrow) are two testaments to how Eire is taking a lead in FOSS. So a toast with a pint of stout to the both Brian Brazil and Paul O’Malley — and the rest of the developers of gNewSense on either side of the Atlantic — for providing a great distro.

Coming tomorrow: Linux Mint 4.0 Darnya Xfce

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Eliminate DRM!

  1. February 13, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I’m looking for a totally free distro, tested gNewSense, but remain on debian.
    A totally free dstro? Debian with only the free repo selected. Are you agree? Why not?

  2. February 13, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Good question, speedygeo. if you can run Debian with only the free software, I guess that would be the same. But why go to that trouble when the developers at gNewSense have already done the work in getting the distro down to its free roots AND have it working pretty well?

    I remember Richard Stallman once saying that there were four distros that were free (as in freedom): gNewSense, Blag, Ututo and a fourth that I can never remember (a little help?). Also, I think if you go to gnu.org, you can find distros they consider totally free (as in freedom).

  3. February 14, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Larry and speedygeo.

    While I am in favour of a totally free OS, there are problems though in terms of user expectations (not their fault). Unfortunately most people who buy a computer are completely unaware of what is hidden in the box and once they become disillusioned with MS and search for a linux alternative, they (rightly IMO as they have spent money on their box) want their linux distro to work with their proprietory stuff, and who would blame them.
    I’m convinced that most uses of gNewSense, Blag, Ututo still install non-free stuff (which basically defeats the purpose of the distro’s intentions). ie dvd stuff, flash, nvidia/ati drivers etc.
    The problem IMO is not the user nor the good intentions of distro maintainers, but hardware practicalities.



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