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gNewSense Distro Frees Ubuntu

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the free-the-beast dept.

Software 306

Linux.com (who shares corporate overlords with Slashdot) is reporting that gNewSense has gone 2.0. For the uninitiated gNewSense is a stripped down version of Ubuntu's Hardy Heron for the free software purist. Removing over 100 pieces of proprietary code and firmware, gNewSense offers a user the ability to run an OS where everything is able to be studied, changed, and redistributed. "gNewSense is a great alternative to Gobuntu, the Canonical-sponsored free derivative of Ubuntu. According to its wiki page, the 8.04 version of Gobuntu hasn't been released due to a less-than-optimal reaction from the community. Gobuntu used the same repositories as Ubuntu, and the Ubuntu live CD can achieve the same installation as Gobuntu by merely selecting the free-software-only option in the installer (press F6 twice at the boot menu). Also, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, has indicated that he would rather focus on gNewSense because the work on that distribution can help the Ubuntu community as a whole. "

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the name? (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604577)

What's with the weird name? I get the "nusiance" reference but unless they're trying to somehow imply GNU-siance the g seems pretty random. Awful confusing- why do we need random names for all these ubuntu derivatives.. how about freebuntu or something?

Re:the name? (4, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604683)

They are trying to imply the GNUism. This is an officially FSF-sanctioned distro.

Re:the name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605081)

Free and Open Source, because all coders should live like RMS.

Re:the name? (1, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605129)

Free and Open Source, because all coders should live like RMS.

Rephrased properly:

Free and Open Source, because all coders should have the option to live as they choose...

Re:the name? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605235)

Unless they choose not to be paupers, or choose to support a family.

Re:the name? (4, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605323)

If your sales/marketing department can't find a way to sell something that's free, then you're in trouble...

We do quite a number of Ubuntu installs per month. If I wanted, I could substitute gNewSense and the users wouldn't really notice the difference in most cases.

We get paid for these installs, too. It supports my family quite nicely... so try pulling someone else's leg...

Re:the name? (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605253)

So why isn't it just called GNUbuntu?

Re:the name? (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604689)

Or Jumpy Jackal?
Jolly Jellyfish?
Joking Jay?
Jittery Jaguar?

GNUbuntu? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604759)

Yeah, the name sucks.

But I like the idea. You can gauge your hardware against a 100% Free (as in Freedom) system.

Re:GNUbuntu? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605029)

Isn't that called "Debian"?

Re:GNUbuntu? (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605411)

Its a bit pointless.
For most people, running a 100% free system isnt really a option.
There is usually something 'tainting' the system.

There arent any real advantages to running a free system anyway from a usability aspect.

Re:the name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605075)

how about freebuntu or something?
...because freebuntu is actually zulu for 'ethnic cleansing'

Re:the name? (4, Funny)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605089)

I believe there's a hard push in the GNU world to crap up product names with a G similar to the way KDE craps up names with a K.

The only name I ever remember liking that came out of that was "Killustrator" and I think they had to change it because Adobe are wankers.

Stallmanites strike again (3, Informative)

washort (6555) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604581)

rhymes with "nuisance"

Re:Stallmanites strike again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604607)

rhymes with "nuisance"

Brought to you by the same people that thought calling a Photoshop competitor "Gimp" :)

There's a reason why we geeks aren't in marketing, and I think those are two of 'em.

Re:Stallmanites strike again (5, Insightful)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604951)

Seriously. The first time I was told about The GIMP, I asked my friend to provide me a link to the actual site. I was too scared to do a search for "GIMP".

Re:Stallmanites strike again (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604993)

A friend of mine wanted to look up a "Dick's Sporting Goods" store, and without really thinking had typed 'dicks.com' into his browser. He looked at it (the text, just the text, he hadn't hit enter) for a moment and decided to try the whole phrase in Google instead.

Re:Stallmanites strike again (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605275)

Yea well, if you've ever been to one of their stores, the sign is way up in the air.

Its sort of funny, to see a huge sign up in the air that says DICKS.

Re:Stallmanites strike again (2, Funny)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605365)

Its sort of funny, to see a huge sign up in the air that says DICKS.

I get the same reaction when Air Force One passes overhead here, too!

Re:Stallmanites strike again (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605079)

I have tried it before, and you're safe. Unlike one of my ex-coworkers who tried looking up greased nipples (there's lots of great things that engineers use, nuts, flanges, pumps..). He didn't get fired for it of course, he just happened to leave a few months ago ;)

Re:Stallmanites strike again (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605059)

There's a reason why we geeks aren't in marketing, and I think those are two of 'em.
Perhaps our great maths and language skills?

What do you expect from fucktarded sheeple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605393)

who follow Richard Stallman (aka RMS Titanic), a stupud communist fucktard who should go slit his fucking wrists.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR
WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MOD POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!!!

OK, fine... (4, Interesting)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604583)

Now there's a Ubuntu knockoff that developers will like because of the totally free software basis of this distro. But as the article says, it's not for everybody. Who wants to give up their wireless networking capability on a notebook? Not me. Who wants to give up 3D capability in X? Not me.

Re:OK, fine... (4, Insightful)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604809)

Losing those features is a necessary step toward a fully free desktop. Sure, you might lose them now, but that gives incentive for them to be developed so that we *have* free and open source drivers later.

Now I know there are people who think we don't *need* a totally free desktop, but then again, there were people who thought we didn't need an open source browser because there were Netscape binaries. And isn't everyone glad now that we have Firefox?

Besides all that, you'd be surprised at just how much works without needing any proprietary bits in your operating system at all. Before sticking in a gNewSense CD, the idea that I could run a totally, completely free operating system and still do what I need to do was just all theory to me.

Re:OK, fine... (5, Insightful)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604985)

that gives incentive for them to be developed

Um... to whom, exactly? Some nerd who's going to spend the next three months in a darkened office reverse-engineering the proprietary drivers? To give incentive to the hardware manufacturers, we need a distro with the widest possible user base, not some fringe OSS purist crap.

Re:OK, fine... (2, Interesting)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605049)

To give incentive to the hardware manufacturers, we need a distro with the widest possible user base, not some fringe OSS purist crap.

Yeah, NVidia and Adobe are really feeling the heat to provide source code now that millions of Linux users have demonstrated that a little temporary convenience thanks to binary blobs is acceptable.

Re:OK, fine... (4, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605183)

Yeah, NVidia and Adobe are really feeling the heat to provide source code now that millions of Linux users have demonstrated that a little temporary convenience thanks to binary blobs is acceptable.

And on the other hand, yeah, Nvidia and Adobe are *really* feeling the heat to provide source code now that some fringe distro with zero userbase (and negligible userbase potential) totally lacks drivers.

Open source drivers would be nice, but I fail to see how this distro does anything to further that goal.

Re:OK, fine... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605211)

Yeah, NVidia and Adobe are really feeling the heat to provide source code now that millions of Linux users have demonstrated that a little temporary convenience thanks to binary blobs is acceptable.


No, but ATI did, and look, they have open-sourced some drivers. Once ATI starts to, NVidia will, once GNASH starts becoming usable, Adobe will feel the pressure to make Flash better. It is called competition, it is something that these companies really haven't had to deal with, though, with Linux they have to compete, and not having a monopoly, they are.

Re:OK, fine... (2, Insightful)

pinkstuff (758732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605231)

Yip, a large user base is the only way to make sure the drivers are open sourced. I mean, look at all the open source drivers for windows.

Re:OK, fine... (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605245)

To give incentive to the hardware manufacturers, we need a distro with the widest possible user base, not some fringe OSS purist crap.

Doesn't this sound like something Steve Ballmer might say? Why so dismissive of the wellspring of so much Linux development?

Re:OK, fine... (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605255)

Um... to whom, exactly? Some nerd who's going to spend the next three months in a darkened office reverse-engineering the proprietary drivers?
To the people who decide what hardware they want to buy based on if it will work on their distro of choice. For example, Intel's video drivers are 100% Free and are plenty good enough for non-gaming 3D (compiz, etc).

To give incentive to the hardware manufacturers, we need a distro with the widest possible user base, not some fringe OSS purist crap.
Sorry, but how does that follow? If a distro already has the widest possible user base using proprietary drivers, just where is the incentive for the hw manufacturers to lift a finger?

Re:OK, fine... (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605019)

Losing those features is a necessary step toward a fully free desktop. Sure, you might lose them now, but that gives incentive for them to be developed so that we *have* free and open source drivers later.
Really? How does a distro with no (sane) users give incentive for companies to do anything? I'd expect much larger incentives from the ability to offload driver maintenance work and potentially better compatibility with new features that they'd get from letting others fix/improve their drivers. The incentives would come from being able to do more with less, not the mostly invisible grandstanding of some fringe group.

Re:OK, fine... (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605027)

No, it gives strawmen the incentive to develop free and open source drivers while everyone else is doing it for the heck of it, because they can, or because they want to.

It doesn't give anyone any added incentive but the people who use it. So, unless you plan on coding the GNewSense wireless drivers and ATI/nVidia chipset drivers, you're bringing up a strawman.

Anyway, people are working on ATI/nVidia drivers that are free in the GNU definition anyway, with or without the existence of these 'very free' distributions.

I think the only purpose that distros like GNewSense serve, other than one's own ideology, is to show how far Linux and open source has come (very, very far) and how far Linux and open source has to go (still quite a ways.)

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604595)

Now I can finally sleep at night knowing that I am not tied down to some EVIL corporation. Thank you
gNewSense for allowing me to rest easy. I am finally FREE!!!

Great! (4, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604599)

Great! Now I can miss out on a good fourth or so of all web content and experience inferior xserver performance just like the old days...

Oh NO!!! (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604601)

They ripped off Debian!!!

Re:Oh NO!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604991)

Yea, that's what I was thinking. Surly I'm missing something.



To me, it like Debian with lots of useful stuff added only to have it stripped back out again. Is there any real advantage to this?

Um, great? (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604605)

So, it takes a capable distribution and removes a lot of the stuff that makes it as usable as it is, in the name of freeing the user?

Huh.

Re:Um, great? (4, Insightful)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604897)

Sometimes we should not only see the short-term pleasure that our system works, but also the long-term interest to be able to live in freedom. Of course the convenience of getting all machines to work seems most important now, but free software is not about convenience, it's about ethics. If we stop caring about proprietary drivers then the hardware manufacturers will think we don't care. And they probably even go a step further and DRM+TC [wikipedia.org] everything. Then maybe in twenty years you look back and ask yourself why you let the industry take away your rights.

Re:Um, great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605011)

Rights... Freedom... Ethics.. DRM... Trusted Computing... Industry... BINGO!

Your post is the perfect example of why no one gives a shit about what you have to say. Buzzwords galore without any actual evidence to support any of your claims.

Re:Um, great? (3, Insightful)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605095)

I don't really understand why you think that "Rights", "Freedom", "Ethics" and "Industry" are buzzwords. They are clearly defined.
You are partially correct with "Digital Rights Management" and "Trusted Computing", which are used for propaganda (if you read my post carefully, you'll see that I actually link to "Treacherous Computing". I don't use those propaganda terms, I just cite them).

Your post is the perfect example of why no one gives a shit about what you have to say.

Well, actually some do. For example my post was important enough for you to respond.

Re:Um, great? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605261)

Sometimes we should not only see the short-term pleasure that our system works, but also the long-term interest to be able to live in freedom. Of course the convenience of getting all machines to work seems most important now, but free software is not about convenience, it's about ethics.


Freedom should never come before functionality, and even more so when the functionality is important and the freedom is minor. For example, unless you are a kernel hacker, a well-coded proprietary driver and a well-coded free driver makes little difference to you. 99% of Ubuntu is free and most of it is the important stuff (the main kernel, all the applications, GUI, Window manager, etc.) only about 1% or less is proprietary (wireless, graphic card drivers, etc.). And the one thing that worries me about gNewSense is that by default you can't install any proprietary applications (such as Flash) and the free alternatives (such as GNASH) are nowhere near up to par.

Re:Um, great? (2, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605297)

Then maybe in twenty years you look back and ask yourself why you let the industry take away your rights.

FUD. Are you kidding? Since when is having *software drivers* a right? It would be *nice* if hardware manufacturers supported Linux, and even nicer if said drivers are open sourced. But this is not a RIGHT. Do not dilute a word as important as "right" with such a lowball definition.

Of course the convenience of getting all machines to work seems most important now, but free software is not about convenience, it's about ethics.

Woah woah woah. Ethics? Freedom I get - we would be free to customize drivers, fork them, branch them as we please. Security, I get - ability to scrutinize the integrity of the code we're running. ETHICS? Since when is the *refusal to give away your code for free* in violation of ANY sane sense of ethics?

If we stop caring about proprietary drivers then the hardware manufacturers will think we don't care. And they probably even go a step further and DRM+TC [wikipedia.org] everything.

You mean like they've done for Windows, right? But no, wait, they haven't. The *vast vast vast* majority of Windows drivers you can download today have NO real protection on them (except the fact that you don't have source). There are even active internet communities hacking video drivers, sound drivers, etc, with no apparent backlash from hardware manufacturers.

You're just spouting FUD. Open source drivers is a nice ideal, and even nicer if we could have it, but we are by NO MEANS entitled to it.

Yes, great. (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604929)

Ugh, due to that kind of thinking we still have to put up with crap like Nvidia's drivers.

I really wish all that buggy stuff was removed. I mean nvidia drivers, flash and things you put inside ndiswrapper. If only a fraction of the time we waste working around related bugs was put into nouveau and friends, all this discussion would be moot. And wireless producents would be forced to actually provide some docs.

Re:Um, great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605189)

Don't you know? Freedom is slavery.

I'm gonna make a derivative! (5, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604659)

I'ts gonna be based off of gNewSense, and be called MakesMoreSense, and it'll put the missing bits back in!

debian - ubuntu - gnewsense - MakesMoreSense

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604691)

Wish I had mod points - your post is funny and insightful - we need a +5 commonsense here.

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604739)

You are against our freedoms. I am going to create a free software distribution based on MakesMoreSense, and call it GnuMoreSense.

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (2, Funny)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604835)

Your presence of mind to regurgitate the essence of gNewSense into GnuMoreSense is total nonsense. Don't even make bring up the issue of license.

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (1)

uptonm (1003926) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604881)

Then their shold be a verision loaded with WAREZ!! What will tehy call it??

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605291)

Windows?

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (3, Funny)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605169)

I'll take your derivative one step further. It'll be based on MakesMoreSense, but it will replace all of the free bits with proprietary binaries. I think I'll call it WinBuntu

Re:I'm gonna make a derivative! (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605227)

And with permission, I'd like to use your distribution to create my own. It might even be a live CD, a first of this type:

Financial software for the back-end of a bank. Not just any bank, h'wever. I've decided that the "wildebeast" niche hasn't been addressed, and have tailored this new distro for it. Yes, a banking software for large water-buffalo-type animals.

...and if you've not guessed by now....

Yes, it's called GNUcents.

Thanks! I'll be here all week... Don't forget to tip the waitstaff, and be sure to try the fish!

Great - a basis to know what to buy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604661)

I'm still using fedora, but gNewSense is a great thing to have. I've had so many problems with wireless cards that use proprietary bits of code and there's nothing anybody can do to fix them if the manufacturer is no longer interested. I'm really glad to be able to use gNewSense to find out which hardware has a future.

Ubuntu 8.04 is too buggy and should be beta. (0, Flamebait)

elucido (870205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604663)



So far my experiences with 8.04 have been terrible.

The sound does not work on Realtek AC888.

There is a huge bug in Dolphin as well which makes an error window pop up when using the mouse curser.

I'd rate this release as a C. It's not production quality. The only reason it's not D or F is because the install works great and for the most part it's functional, but it's just not ready for a serious user.

Re:Ubuntu 8.04 is too buggy and should be beta. (2, Funny)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604787)

I've had it on my Thinkpad R61 for 28 days now and it works amazingly well. I do realize that just because it works for me doesn't make it an awesome release. Just because you have had a couple issues doesn't make it a beta quality release either.

Define a serious user for me. Realtek AC888 not working is a corner case and will be patched soon. If you have issues with Dolphin, use Konqueror or Nautilus. I personally avoid KDE - so can't help you much there. If you are a serious user, try having a more descriptive line instead of a "makes an error window pop up when using a mouse".

It isn't a perfect release and I know Linux isn't as user-friendly as people desire it to be. Sadly that also means it isn't idiot-friendly either. You point out two issues in a vague manner and call the experiences terrible...

Re:Ubuntu 8.04 is too buggy and should be beta. (3, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604817)

Dolphin? Sounds like you may be using Kubuntu 8.04, which I also had a lot of trouble with. In fact, now that I've tried all three I have to say xubuntu is the way to go. Ubuntu claims that switching from kubuntu to xubuntu is a simple matter of "sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop", but that didn't fix the kubuntu bugginess. Downloading and using the xubuntu installer did the trick, and now everything works as it should. HTH.

Too many variants (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604667)

Not enough layering. The problems I have with the proliferation of variants are that it's hard to pick the specific spin of a specific package that you want and that picking a desired end result will often lead to Ubuntu's installer complaining that that permutation isn't valid because of a conflict, even if the permutation would not conflict if a sane installation policies were in use. What's needed is to break the problem down into more manageable chunks and to provide far greater granularity.

seems a bit silly (4, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604673)

gNewSense seems a bit too nitpicky to me. Ubuntu is derived from totally free Debian, but they add optional libraries for "free as in beer" things like binary drivers and firmware bits they get the rights to distribute. The FSF seems over the top here, if they don't like Ubuntu, just use vanilla Debian with the same package list. I think the issue is that Ubuntu's build system, and bug tracking system are not free software so the "free" distro is tainted because of that? Splitting AGAIN seems silly, especially when Ubuntu makes it really easy to choose only Free Software for your install.

It seems to be the only point is to break Ubuntu's chops over a small thing just because they're not pure enough. Didn't the FSF guys also did this with Debian at one point for including repos with "non-free" software on their servers... how ridiculously silly. This is why businesses don't take the FSF and GNU seriously.

Re:seems a bit silly (2, Informative)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604983)

the fsf guys split with debian because debian includes huge binary blobs in the kernel.

Re:seems a bit silly (3, Interesting)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605009)

Thank you. I agree whole-heartedly.

I am 100% in favor of free software. I don't want to be a victim of DRM or vendor-lock-in more than the next guy, but this is the reason nobody can take Linux seriously.

Ever seen the Pokemon nerds have an argument with the Yu-gi-oh nerds at school or in your local geek shop? That's what we look like to people who don't understand the difference between proprietary and free software.

Proprietary Debate (3, Insightful)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604677)

It's great that Shuttleworth is trying to improve the availability of Free (as in speech) software. But I hope he doesn't move too much efforts over to this.

The reason I use vanilla Ubuntu is because I don't have to put a lot of effort into setting up my OS to agree with all my hardware. Instead, from the start I can work more on customizing how I interact with my OS. I remember the hell I had with a Radeon x800 and Fedora Core 4 a few years ago. If "closed" (as if it's always a bad thing) software provides a better solution, I'm more likely to use that. So, I hope Mark still is going to put his best foot forward for plain Ubuntu. I bet the corporate interest is more aimed to that Ubuntu.

As I recall... (2, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604681)

Some of that proprietary software is the reason my wireless works on Ubuntu.

I'm all for open source code, and all, but what guarantee do I have that my laptop would work with that?

This is like saying "It's just like that other free car, but without the ugly cupholder!"

What's stopping you from removing the other software yourself, if it's that unsightly?

Re:As I recall... (2, Interesting)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604805)

I use gpl software in slackware. If the kernel supports it, it works. The main issue these days with stuff like ubuntu is that it's designed to be picked up automatically. You arent supposed to have to compile drivers, and set up the configs. This is usually what causes peoples issues with wireless. I've solved a ton of wireless issues by simply compiling the driver modules and network settings. Especially when one is trying to use ndiswrapper - it is a ton easier to compile the driver, set it up with the windows driver files via command line than it is to go through repository hell.

I am not saying that Ubuntu is for lamers, and real linux users compile; I am simply stating that linux isn't yet ready for simple computer users who have only mastered the mouse quite yet.

Re:As I recall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604927)

What's stopping you from removing the other software yourself, if it's that unsightly?
Nothing. And people that have done that decided to save other people the effort and are sharing the result.

Re:As I recall... (4, Informative)

daigu (111684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605103)

Free software is not the same as open source. Read Why "Open Source" misses the point of Free Software [gnu.org] . The first two paragraphs:

When we call software "free," we mean that it respects the users' essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of "free speech," not "free beer."...These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just for the individual users' sake, but because they promote social solidarity--that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even more important as more and more of our culture and life activities are digitized. In a world of digital sounds, images and words, free software comes increasingly to equate with freedom in general.

Now, it may be more important to you that your wireless just works. But, for some people, it's more important to promote social solidarity and freedom, and they want a distribution that makes that easy - without then having to figure out all the dependencies and what is "free" and what isn't. This distribution serves that purpose.

Of course, you could go with Debian, but again, Debian suggests non-free software that people like yourself might simply use because they don't understand the differences between open source and free software or that they have free alternatives - like compiling the software themselves as the other reply to your post suggests. Distributions like Debian enable the creep of carelessness, which is why people like RMS (Richard Stallman) want to encourage totally free distributions.

If it's not your thing or if you are in a situation that requires using something non-free, then do what you have to do. But, I would encourage you to at least be aware of the choices you are making and at least try to be free where you can or to present the alternatives to others as I am doing here.

For disclosure, I used Linux (or GNU/Linux, if you'd rather) as my sole system a decade ago, and even then used Applix for office applications. Now, I use Windows exclusively. I need to run software that requires Windows and don't have as much time to spend troubleshooting computer problems. So, you are running more "free" than me. Still, I thought it worth trying my hand at explaining why these efforts are important, and perhaps it is better than someone that isn't a "true believer" present the case.

Re:As I recall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605241)

That analogy only holds up if there are people who take moral issue with cupholders.

Re:As I recall... (2, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605353)

Right.

I don't understand the OMG NOTHING BUT FREE SOFTWARE distros like gNewSense, et al.

If I want to use only free software, I'll just not install anything that isn't free. I'm smart enough to omit "contrib non-free" from my sources.list.

The argument about installing non-free drivers and programs by default is a non-starter, too. Anyone who is aware of F/OSS is aware enough to check the licenses of the programs in their package manager.

The only possible use of such "free only" distros is that some people have a problem with non-free packages existing in the same package mirror as their free stuff or people who get their knickers in a bunch when something non-free is installed by default -- which can be removed in 2 minutes.

Gobuntu? why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604685)

I don't understand why these need to be separate distros anyway; as far as I understood non-free stuff didn't install until you approved it in Restricted Drivers. Is it some other pieces of code that get auto-installed?

Re:Gobuntu? why? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604973)

Yes, Many.

Mono for one example....and we all know how crappy it is putting MS on linux already.

Re:Gobuntu? why? (1)

daradib (1100117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605039)

Ubuntu installs a number of non-free software by default, including but not limited to anything in the restricted repository (binary kernel modules, etc.). Additionally, binary kernel firmware and non-free GLX are included in Ubuntu; I don't believe these are in restricted/multiverse even though they are non-free.

Hairsplitting (3, Interesting)

proxima (165692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604705)

gNewSense sounds like Ubuntu made to be Debian without the non-free parameter in sources.list. No binary video blobs, fine. Firefox? gNewSense replaces it with Epiphany, while Debian renames it because of trademark issues (specifically, you can't fork Firefox without calling it something else). Debian's course seems idealogical enough already, gNewSense is just over the top, IMO.

The article claims that one benefit of gNewSense is that it is a distribution the FSF can get fully behind. If I recall, the FSF won't endorse Debian because they offer non-free if you enable it in their repositories. That just seems like hairsplitting to me. I can fully understand the desire to have free software/open source replacements and encouraging development of them, but I fail to see how gNewSense achieves that any better than what we had. In Debian you have to go out of your way to get non-free software. In Ubuntu it's fairly straightforward to avoid it if you want to. Is it really worth a distribution with perhaps the worst name I've ever heard for software?

RMS hair splitting (3, Informative)

manwal (648106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604915)

It's true.

Stallman: "Since I consider non-free software to be unethical and antisocial, I think it would be wrong for me to recommend it to others. Therefore, if a collection of software contains (or suggests installation of) some non-free program, I do not recommend it. The systems I recommend are therefore those that do not contain (or suggest installation of) non-free software." (from here [marc.info] )

Re:RMS hair splitting (3, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605063)

It's ironic to me that Stallman in this case supports distros which offer users less, as opposed to more choice.

Re:RMS hair splitting (2, Insightful)

woot account (886113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605271)

When will people understand that Stallman doesn't believe in choice. He believes in having it his way and his way only.

I'm not saying I agree with him, but saying he believes in having choice is just silly.

Re:RMS hair splitting (2, Insightful)

manwal (648106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605427)

I think what he means is less choices now makes more choices tomorrow. And here we've reached the exact point where the hair splits. Same Stallman, same thread:

"... I can encourage installing Emacs, GCC or OpenOffice on Windows, but I should not encourage installing non-free programs on GNU/Linux or BSD, just as I should not encourage installing Windows." (here [marc.info] )

"Providing a recipe to install a non-free program is very direct and clear support for its use. Making your free program work with something non-free if that's already installed is not such a direct message of support." (here [marc.info] )

Re:RMS hair splitting (2, Funny)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605349)

This seems almost soup nazi-ish (yay Godwin's Law!). It reeks of "if you don't agree with my moral stance, NO SOFTWARE FOR YOU! NEXT!"

bah! (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604717)

I suggest Slackware to all linux software and kernel developers, just because you don't have annoying distro-specific frontends in your way. There are no odd programs that you have to get around. It's Linux the way it should be. You get all the development software by default, and compiling isn't a mess (especially with shared library hell).

I took a quick look at TFA, and for some reason it didn't feel like a Linux developer's distribution. It looked more like a developer's distribution for Ubuntu-specifics. As my reading was more like skimming i might of taken in a part wrong. someone correct me if i did.

Just. Use. Debian. (5, Insightful)

borgheron (172546) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604761)

Period.

Ubuntu is Debian based... now we have gNewSense which is Ubuntu based trying to be more Free Software conscious than Ubuntu when Debian already is that. :)

Seems redundant to me.

Re:Just. Use. Debian. (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604931)

Kind of like PETA attempting to remove "lol" from lolcats [lolcats.com] in an attempt to rescue kittens.

Who really uses this.....? (5, Insightful)

jeff419 (1112781) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604769)

I mean is it really worth it to sacrifice functionality just to be a 'purist'?? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to focus effort on building free alternatives to the priority code in Ubuntu rather than maintaining a separate distro that most users will end up installing proprietary code on anyways?

Zealotry (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604789)

I really don't understand this purist nonsense. I certainly understand a preference for F/OSS stuff, but at some point it becomes more religious than practical. Why screw up your own capabilities just to prove a VERY shallow point like this? Computers aren't here to be religious icons, and anyone with an ounce of sense is going to look at movements like this and say "ok, this is just a bit stupid".

If driver XYZ wants to keep their stuff super secret for whatever reason fine. Let them invest the resources to maintain a working copy for the ever growing variety of linux deployments. Because unless they follow the same path of zeaoltry they will eventually look at their prediciment and say "ok, this is just a bit stupid".

I think F/OSS in general is a better model, and I advocate for it whenever possible. But at the end of the day the computer and the software it is running is a tool to support getting a job done. The computer and the software is not a holy temple and holy writ to be protected.

gNewsense user here (2, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604825)

I have been using gNewsense since October of last year. I have been happy with it. I actually did a major upgrade earlier this month due to wanting the latest version of I-don't-even-remember-anymore, which had X number of dependencies, so it asked to upgrade everything and I went for it. It did run into a few problems, and I even had to edit /var/lib/dpkg/status for one tricky and broken dependency chain, but all was well that ends well and all of that is on the Ubuntu side anyhow. I have an old Debian system in another location which I also did not update much and started to break hard on the upgrading circa spring-summer of 2007, so I just leave everything as it was in spring-summer 2007, especially considering I only have remote access to the machine most of the time. As I said, this is all Debian/Ubuntu related though, and not Gnewsense related.

I had a problem with Gnewsense prior to May where sound would conk off once in a while. The latest update of everything seems to have fixed that. I have to say I have been pretty happy with Gnewsense, I have been surprised about how much has worked automagically.

One exception to this is my HP printer. I am not a CUPS or HP driver expert, but I hooked it up, it detected it - as the proper HP printer, but it is not printing to it. I guess one fear you have with Gnewsense in these situations is some firmware blob that would just make it work is not included - although the situation might be the same on an Ubuntu, I don't know what the problem is, but I only spent a few hours looking at it.

I do install things like non-GPL'd-yet Sun Java, mplayer, vlc and the like on my Gnewsense system in its own little segregatd section. The main thing is, I know they are not free. It is really an awareness thing for me, I have all of the non-free stuff segregated in its own little section. I just installed Gnash, and will test it out and see how well it works. Most of the non-free stuff I use revolves around Java (which is being GPL'd) and movie players. I want to at least be aware of this stuff and have it segregated. Otherwise I might as well use Windows.

Re:gNewsense user here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605105)

Most of the non-free stuff I use revolves around Java (which is being GPL'd) and movie players. I want to at least be aware of this stuff and have it segregated. Otherwise I might as well use Windows.
So your saying it's OK to use non-free software if you know it and otherwise it would be just like windows. Heck, I'm sure by now most of the windows users actually know it's non-free.

So they're just like you. Using non-free software knowingly. No difference.

(I personally have nothing against non-free, I have have it enabled ol all my Debian installations. It's just that the argument was infernally stupid.

Re:gNewsense user here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605159)

dumbass. You're implying that using Ubuntu is akin to using Windows? Who is the true hypocrite? "I do install things like non-GPL'd-yet Sun Java, mplayer, vlc and the like on my Gnewsense system" How's that slippery slope feel?

Helping the community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23604849)

"has indicated that he would rather focus on gNewSense because the work on that distribution can help the Ubuntu community as a whole. ""

How about making a version like Fluxbuntu for the community. This would be fantastic for UMPC's and low end machines.

http://fluxbuntu.org/ [fluxbuntu.org]

"Ubuntu community as a whole" (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604901)

How about the Linux community as a whole? This seems to be a (possibly) more stable replica of Fedora, as Fedora has (as far as I know) the strictest FOSS packages guidelines of the popular Linux distros. How about they work more upstream?

Not as Advertised (2, Interesting)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23604963)

Problem is that this distro still contains non-free software in it. Though it might have a totally free (in the FSF definition) *goal*, it's rather dis-honest to advertise something that has yet to be accomplished. Quite frankly, if one wants a totally free *NIX OS, then one should be looking at OpenBSD rather than this thing. You know, the people who are actually fighting against Blobs, etc instead of just removing things that can be easily put back in.

Re:Not as Advertised (1)

thannine (576719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605165)

And you'll be willing to spesify those packages that are non-free so that we don't have to suspect you're just spreadin pro-BSD FUD, won't you?

Re:Not as Advertised (1)

mrbooze (49713) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605207)

What non-free software does gNewSense still contain?

Isn't this just software asceticism? (2, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605013)

I'm all for more open source, but crippling your operating system by taking out all of the proprietary bits that were only there *because they are necessary to make things work* seems like just flagellating yourself.

When did open source become not about making great software, but about punishing yourself in order to achieve some greater level of software "purity"? When did the FSF become the catholic church?

Had this before (1)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605139)

Seriously, if GnuSense didn't get any takers last month, pimping it again won't make much difference.

Re:Had this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605339)

That's no slashvertisement, it's a troll! Slashdot is trying to stir up an argument between the proprietary-software-is-morally-bad people and the proprietary-software-is-technically-bad people.

Firmware?!? (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605151)

How do you remove firmware from software? I am thinking someone needs to poke the editor with a CMOS chip for leaving that in.

Re:Firmware?!? (1)

thannine (576719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605187)

Why don't you go and study the matter before writing these stupidities? Might actually learn something.

Re:Firmware?!? (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605285)

Hows about you go fuck your self with a chainsaw? It was an attempt at humor, obviously wasted on you. Where do you get off calling someone stupid that you don't even know anyway? Fucking dork.

Hmnn, Slashdot full of inverted logic lately? (4, Insightful)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605257)

Yeah, really, look at those comments. Apparently now giving a crap about the long term effectiveness of a system and not having to depend on some company that might go broke one day in order to use the hardware you actually paid for has become 'zealotry' or being a purist or taking it as a religion.

While simultaneously, people who put blind faith on corporations - that they will still want to give you updated binary blobs, that they will actually survive the years to come, etc - get the title of being pragmatists.

Oh and to they guys that are ranting about it ruining ubuntu, etc. Please notice it is just an alternative, you don't have to use it if you don't want to.

What?? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23605263)

According to its wiki page, the 8.04 version of Gobuntu hasn't been released due to a less-than-optimal reaction from the community.
How in the world do they measure a "less-than-optimal reaction from the community"?

Nobody asked me. I'm not sure how I feel about being left out of "the community" and not having a say in such an important measurement of sub-optimal reaction. Who knows, my opinion might have just been enough to push the reaction over the line into "optimal" territory.

Are they really saying they didn't release it because "some people" said "some shit" about it in "some forum"?

What non-free software do I have installed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605267)

I have these proprietary bits of software installed (by myself) on my Ubuntu system: - Opera - the web browser - because I really really love it (not that I hate Firefox but I feel Opera is a better alternative) - The drivers for my wireless and graphics card - the open-source drivers for my graphics card don't offer 3D acceleration - Skype - because I need it to make calls over the internet and most of my friends use it I don't have Java installed and I use Gnash instead of the proprietary adobe flash plugin.

FLOSS' solution to the Dining Philosophers Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23605399)

More forks!
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