Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Linux

gNewSense Distro Frees Ubuntu 306

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the free-the-beast dept.
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. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

gNewSense Distro Frees Ubuntu

Comments Filter:
  • the name? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:12PM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#23604683)
      They are trying to imply the GNUism. This is an officially FSF-sanctioned distro.
      • So why isn't it just called GNUbuntu?
        • Re:the name? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by el americano (799629) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:59PM (#23605569) Homepage
          First of all, this is a dupe: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/01/1153204 [slashdot.org]

          Secondly, there is already a free version of Ubuntu, called Gobuntu. gNewSense exists because "pure" isn't good enough for some people. Some of the issues were:

          -Gobuntu uses the Ubuntu repositories, so you could, if you wanted, install non-free software.
          -The binaries had non-free removed, but the source packages, if you downloaded them, would not.
          -Some Ubuntu OS "enhancements" encouraged the downloading of proprietary software.
          -Gobuntu/Ubuntu development uses Launchpad, which is a non-open-source server application. (Nevermind that it's not runnning on your computer. Nevermind that you couldn't modify Canonical's version even if it was OSS. Nevermind that these same people use Google, etc.)

          So, if any of these reasons make any sense to you, or if you'd just like a pat on the back from RMS, then gNS might be for you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by el americano (799629)
        Except that the lone G usually signifies Gnome. They've admitted that it's not a great name, but they say that they haven't come up with anything they like better. If it depends on their ability to come up with a good name, I think this one is here to stay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Daimanta (1140543)
      Or Jumpy Jackal?
      Jolly Jellyfish?
      Joking Jay?
      Jittery Jaguar?
    • Yeah, the name sucks.

      But I like the idea. You can gauge your hardware against a 100% Free (as in Freedom) system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cheater512 (783349)
        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.
    • by Khaed (544779) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:01PM (#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.

  • by washort (6555) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:13PM (#23604581) Homepage
    rhymes with "nuisance"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • by Drakonik (1193977) <drakonik@gmail.com> on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:47PM (#23604951) Homepage
        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".
        • by mooingyak (720677)
          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.
          • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

              by UncleTogie (1004853) *

              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: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Miseph (979059)
              And if you've ever bought anything from them, you'll realize that the DICKS are actually right behind you...
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by bjkinney (1292078)
            Searching for a site on Google or another search engine is always a good idea before typing in random URLs. How many people interested in the Python programming language have accidentally navigated to the python.com. NSFW
          • The Colorado Rapids play at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The locals just say that they are going down to "The Dick". So you see, these things happen in the commercial world too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by somersault (912633)
          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 ;)
      • by somersault (912633) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:59PM (#23605059) Homepage Journal

        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?
  • OK, fine... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:13PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by paroneayea (642895) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:33PM (#23604809) Homepage

      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... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Max Threshold (540114) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:50PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by chromatic (9471)

          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... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by p0tat03 (985078) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:11PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:14PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Max Threshold (540114) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:48PM (#23605971)
            I think you mean, NVidia and Adobe are really feeling the heat to provide source code now that millions of Linux users have demonstrated a desire to use their binary blobs and a willingness to do all the work of packaging and distributing them. Companies are starting to see the benefits of open design in the form of offloading code maintenance and tech support. The only thing holding them back is negotiating open licenses with the owners of the technology they themselves licensed to produce the binary drivers.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pinkstuff (758732)
          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.
        • by jddj (1085169)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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?

        • by Wordsmith (183749) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:56PM (#23605549) Homepage
          Why can't the office be well-lit? Light drivers not working yet?
        • by ELProphet (909179)

          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

          Perhaps. Why not try both? Albino-nerd reverse engineers drivers, win for everyone (except his genetics). Ubuntu gets these benefits, user base grows. BigCorpCo sees user base, releases free drivers. I don't see any problem with either side of this scenario, and the ENTIRE POINT of F/OSS is to provide what every capitalist wants- competition. In fact, F/OSS has done a pretty damned good job at being competitive in a product-to-product match up; it's only Microsoft's business practices that really seem to

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by extrasolar (28341)
          You know, you don't absolutely have to use and buy that hardware with the proprietary drivers, you know? And, if you find a free alternative, that might give them incentive to make their drivers free, which gives us knowledge about how their hardware works benefiting all of us. Let them write the drivers, it's their hardware.
        • Re:OK, fine... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by laddiebuck (868690) on Friday May 30, 2008 @08:26PM (#23606291)
          You're missing the long view. You call it purist crap, and people have said the same of GNU at so many stages -- and look, today we have a totally free system, precisely because people have _not_ compromised, but stuck to an uncompromisingly free system and developed and worked on it. Who gives a toss, in the long run, about any particular hardware manufacturers today, about Linux's market share, about 3d video drivers, or any of that? There will be totally free 3d video drivers, there will be free drivers, there will be all of what people use proprietary components for today. It's by focussing on that long view that FLOSS has gotten as amazingly far as it has today, and only by keeping focussed on that will it get there. We cannot stop and say "this is good enough" while there are any proprietary components needed for the systems we use. And as a byproduct of this development effort, other people, naysayers or otherwise, will be able to use the system and join the FLOSS world.
      • 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.

      • by Anpheus (908711)
        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' distr
      • Re:OK, fine... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by powerlinekid (442532) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:59PM (#23605571)
        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.

        Doesn't Debian already do this?

        The claim that it is too easy to install proprietary stuff on Debian is insane. The same goes for all truly functional OS.
    • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Friday May 30, 2008 @11:17PM (#23607113) Homepage

      Few things in the world are for everybody, but history shows us that freedom is worth some hard work to build and defend. If that means I do without something for a while, or I have to do something another way, that's a small price to pay. As it happens I don't need 3D hardware and my ASUS cardbus wireless card works with gNewSense GNU/Linux because it requires no firmware, hence there's no issue of uploading proprietary firmware to the device to make it useful. Using it couldn't be easier: I plug it in, it lights up and the system finds a wireless access point. If I leave it plugged in I only have to turn on my computer to get online wirelessly. I think that software freedom is worth some sacrifice and I find that I have to sacrifice less and less over time. I find it interesting to note how dependent on proprietary software many GNU/Linux users are. The push to put more proprietary software on a GNU-based system more clearly illuminates to me the difference between "open source" and "free software" right along the lines described in the latter part of "Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software [gnu.org]":

      The idea of open source is that allowing users to change and redistribute the software will make it more powerful and reliable. But this is not guaranteed. Developers of proprietary software are not necessarily incompetent. Sometimes they produce a program which is powerful and reliable, even though it does not respect the users' freedom. How will free software activists and open source enthusiasts react to that?

      A pure open source enthusiast, one that is not at all influenced by the ideals of free software, will say, "I am surprised you were able to make the program work so well without using our development model, but you did. How can I get a copy?" This attitude will reward schemes that take away our freedom, leading to its loss.

      The free software activist will say, "Your program is very attractive, but not at the price of my freedom. So I have to do without it. Instead I will support a project to develop a free replacement." If we value our freedom, we can act to maintain and defend it.

  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:15PM (#23604599) Journal
    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...
  • Um, great? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:16PM (#23604605) Journal
    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saibot834 (1061528) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:41PM (#23604897) Homepage
      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.
      • 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 abo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by p0tat03 (985078)

        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 *

    • Yes, great. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KiloByte (825081) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:44PM (#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.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:20PM (#23604659) Journal
    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

    • by atari2600 (545988)
      Wish I had mod points - your post is funny and insightful - we need a +5 commonsense here.
    • by AttillaTheNun (618721) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:10PM (#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
    • 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

  • Too many variants (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:20PM (#23604667) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:21PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      the fsf guys split with debian because debian includes huge binary blobs in the kernel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Drakonik (1193977)
      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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by martinw89 (1229324) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#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... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kingrames (858416) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nawcom (941663)
      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 w
    • Re:As I recall... (Score:5, Informative)

      by daigu (111684) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:04PM (#23605103) Journal

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stinerman (812158)
      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
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pizzach (1011925)

      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?

      1. You go to gNewSense's website, and see if your laptop or the one you are planning on buying has compatibility.

      2. If it's listed, you know that your hardware should work with any Linux distribution and that it is well supported without overly strange hacks. You won't have to worry about Nvidia eventally dropping support for your card, and there will never be binary incompatibility because the binary blob was never updated for the latest kernel.

      gNewSense is not a great consumer OS per say, but you're

  • Hairsplitting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by proxima (165692) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:24PM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

      by manwal (648106)
      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])
      • by Anpheus (908711) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:59PM (#23605063)
        It's ironic to me that Stallman in this case supports distros which offer users less, as opposed to more choice.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by woot account (886113)
          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: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by manwal (648106)
          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 no
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by p0tat03 (985078)
        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!"
  • Just. Use. Debian. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by borgheron (172546) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:29PM (#23604761) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by atari2600 (545988)
      Kind of like PETA attempting to remove "lol" from lolcats [lolcats.com] in an attempt to rescue kittens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gambolt (1146363)
      They take out the binary blobs that debian leaves in. Everything is free in debian but the kernel.
  • by jeff419 (1112781) <jhenderson419@gmail.com> on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:30PM (#23604769) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:31PM (#23604789) Journal
    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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by br00tus (528477) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:34PM (#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.

  • 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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Friday May 30, 2008 @05:48PM (#23604963) Journal
    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.
  • 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?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Clearly you're misinformed.

      Read Stallman's story on MIT's Xerox laser printer's drivers and you'll know what Free Software is all about.

      Repeat after me: "Open Source IS NOT THE SAME AS Free Software"

  • Seriously, if GnuSense didn't get any takers last month, pimping it again won't make much difference.
  • by Vexorian (959249) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:19PM (#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.

  • 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 t

    • They asked people to step up and help out with the production of Gobuntu. Pretty much nobody did. Compare that with the massive community behind Ubuntu itself, and other derivatives such as Xubuntu, Mythbuntu and so on.

      Kinda telling when on the Gobuntu list there are lots of freedom-lovers who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

      We interviewed Mark Shuttleworth on our little podcast http://podcast.ubuntu-uk.org/ [ubuntu-uk.org] and he spelled out the reasons why, and that after 8.04, Gobuntu is effectively dead.

      You still
  • So I'm reading TFA and they make a point about linking to a story about Mozilla's draconian approach to controlling what happens to the code via trademark law. Based on this, the new distro has decided to NOT include Firefox in favor of whatever this other unencumbered thing is. So I'm reading *that* story, and I notice the date -- 2006 -- and it occurs to me that this is kind of like deja vu all over again or something.

    So if you don't want the TM protected Firefox artwork/branding... isn't that why they
  • 100% free! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by david.given (6740) <dg@cowlark.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:45PM (#23605483) Homepage Journal

    ...except for the proprietary BIOS software, the proprietary microcode in the video card, wireless card, I/O controller, hard disks, floppy disks, monitor, keyboard, mouse, POTS modem, ADSL modem, power control microcontroller, and all the other little bits of electronics with embedded CPUs on your desk.

    And if you want to be really picky, you could also talk about the proprietary chip and CPU designs in every single piece of silicon in all of the above. Not to mention the patented and extremely commercial fabber techniques needed to make it all (in China). Free, it's not.

    Now that there are genuinely free (as in speech) IC designs out there on places like opencores.com, is it possible to make completely free computers? Even single-board jobs?

  • But even more crippled by idealism. Well where do I sign up?

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

Working...