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Debian GNU is Not Unix Operating Systems

FSF-Sponsored gNewSense 2.1 Released 413

Posted by timothy
from the when-you-want-to-say-gnu-slash-linux dept.
An anonymous reader writes "gNewSense, the fully-free GNU/Linux distribution sponsored by the FSF, has released a 2.1 live CD (torrent). Since the last release, more non-free binary blobs have been removed, new artwork has been added and lots of other improvements have been made. It's also two years since the first edition of gNewSense, and in that time an impressive ten live CDs have been released! gNewSense 2.1 DeltaH is based on Ubuntu Hardy, and removes non-free software that other distributions don't." I wonder if gNewSense can be easily installed on an OLPC XO the way several other distros can.
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FSF-Sponsored gNewSense 2.1 Released

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  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:13PM (#24730703) Homepage Journal

    Who is this supposed to be a nuisance to?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:20PM (#24730745)

      Probably to all the users who have to deal with G or GNU prepended to every program name.

    • Microsoft?
    • by bushing (20804) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:42PM (#24730911) Homepage

      Who is this supposed to be a nuisance to?

      It's a reference to RMS (or his PGP^H^H^HGPG key):

      "The name originated as Gnusiance as a reference to RMS's GPG key, but was later changed to gNewSense by bbrazil and ompaul to also capture the New Sense of the distribution and as a pun on GNU."

      http://www.gnewsense.org/index.php?n=FAQ.FAQ#toc4 [gnewsense.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kestasjk (933987)
      And if it's supposed to be pronounced the same way GNU is it's pronounced "Guh-new-sense" which sounds like "Guh-nuisance"

      I know it's unfair to expect FOSS programmers to be marketing experts, but it really shouldn't take any imagination to see what a terrible name this is, and how much names matter.
      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:58PM (#24731023)

        The point of GNewSense is to find places where Free Software isn't adequate to have a fully functioning system without binary blobs. If you're a business user [other than a hardware integrator, in which case your tech team might be using it to test your hardware's compatibility in a purely non-proprietary context], a non-FSF-fanatic home user, or otherwise someone in any way marketing-sensitive, you probably don't want to be running a distribution optimized for idiological purity over compatibility and convenience; as such, it's not meant for you. (Business users care about redistributability, of course, but a great many of the relevant binary blobs have that property anyhow. An embedded distribution built for license purity would be interesting to a great many people... but a good number of those users are liable to be skittish about the GPL as well, making their goals and the FSF's align considerably differently -- and Linux-centric embedded-system build toolkits generally already have license-management functionality anyhow).

        Given that goal and context, why does the marketing matter?

        • by jaiyen (821972) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:12PM (#24731119)

          Given that goal and context, why does the marketing matter?

          Why not ? Whatever the goals, it's only going to be helped by sensible and clever marketing (e.g. Firefox). It's not hard to see that names like GNewSense/nuisance or GIMP could make people feel embarassed about recommending the product to their boss regardless of its other virtues, and that can't be helping their cause at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Repossessed (1117929)

            It's not the name that'd make me embarrassed to recommend GIMP.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572)
          It is also an easy place to start, should you wish to create your own distribution. The are a large number of major corporations and government departments, that could create their own in house distribution, so this provides them a clean functional distribution that will be continually updated as a place to start.

          Once you are into more than 10,000 seats your own distribution, containing only the software that you want it to contain, providing a secure basic company wide install and, can has a range of fla

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cduffy (652)

            It is also an easy place to start, should you wish to create your own distribution. The are a large number of major corporations and government departments, that could create their own in house distribution, so this provides them a clean functional distribution that will be continually updated as a place to start.

            Been there, done that. In such an environment, one generally wants support for some amount of proprietary software -- be it Oracle or JRockit or Splunk or something completely different. One also w

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by coryking (104614) *

        This is my third post to this thread and hopefully I'll shut up about this GNU=Religion thing but again if you view...

        I know it's unfair to expect FOSS programmers to be marketing experts, but it really shouldn't take any imagination to see what a terrible name this is, and how much names matter.

        ... through the lens of religion not marketing it makes sense. Being a true beliver in any kind of growing religion requires you think against the grain (and often common sense) in order to prove your worth.

        If you take the idea that most "GNU Geeks" see "marketdriods" as pretty much the devil, it makes sense that they named it this. After all, says the "GNU Geek", "Marketing is stupid and

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:27PM (#24731193)

          Or humor - it could be humor.

          Your thing was good too.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:37PM (#24731275) Journal

          GNU isn't a religion, it's a political-economic ideology reminiscent of anarcho-communism.

          Marketing, being a politically correct word for propaganda, which is in its essence about domination of the individual through psychology, well, it's antithetical to the values of an anarcho-communist.

          For these people, being able to achieve success without resorting to marketing and economic trickery is a validation of the viability of their world-view.

          Do you refer to imperial-capitalist-pig-dog as a religion too?

          • by tknd (979052) on Monday August 25, 2008 @01:57AM (#24733287)

            Marketing, being a politically correct word for propaganda

            Until you provide a source I will take that as your opinion. Here is what I have seen as a definition of marketing:

            "Marketing is the performance of activities that seek to accomplish an organization's objectives by anticipating customer or client needs and directing a flow of need-satisfying goods and services from producer to customer or client." (Essentials of Marketing 11th edition Perreault, Cannon, McCarthy)

            So sure, you could use propaganda to achieve marketing but that is really a short-sited view of marketing in general.

            For these people, being able to achieve success without resorting to marketing and economic trickery is a validation of the viability of their world-view.

            How? Why? Why does marketing automatically equate to "economic trickery" in your opinion? And why does this imply that their "world-view" is viable?

            In other words, let's suppose I build a product or provide a service, and I decide to have zero marketing. None, zip, nothing at all. The product or service has a name, but the name implies nothing of the product's nature. How successful would such a product be? Keep in mind that things like websites, showing the product to others, and simple things like that are forms of marketing. But what I have here is essentially a product in a vault and the only person that knows of the product's existence is myself. Such products do exist but do you honestly expect people to understand that it exists without any form of marketing?

            Hell, let's get real. I had such a product, it was a customized user interface for a video game which I thought to be superior in some ways to other interfaces available. Initially I had no intention of releasing the interface or allowing others to use the customized interface. That meant zero marketing for my product and I was the only user. The entire population would not know that I was using the interface and therefore nobody except myself used the product.

            Eventually I did "marketing" even though I wasn't aware that it was "marketing". My friends saw my using the interface and eventually wanted to use it as well. Later I posted a video intending to focus on my game-play (not the interface) and people watching the video wanted copies of the interface. Eventually I created a website for the interface (easier to distribute) and before I knew it, a significantly large portion of the players were download and using my interface while I slept. Each of these marketing elements contributed to expand the reach and use of the product. And I'll bet you that most of those people were thankful that they had access to it than to never have had access.

            Sure, I never ran an ad, or tried to put out a video convincing people that my interface was superior or that they needed it. I simply did the bare minimum in marketing gestures on "promotion" and "place" (made the interface available, and it was free) and let the product sell itself. But that is still marketing.

            I will give you that some forms of marketing such as advertising are not necessarily the greatest or most appreciated and are in fact annoying. But at some point, I am sure you have come across a product that you actually liked or wanted/needed and if it hadn't been for some type of marketing then you would have never known that that product or service existed.

            In fact some of these products or services may not even have been from a for-profit mega corporation, but instead from a non-profit organization like a school. All organizations that want to serve a target audience will participate in some form of marketing if they want to be successful.

    • by lennier (44736) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:45PM (#24730943) Homepage

      Presumably to the manufacturers of hardware which contains binary-only drivers.

      The idea is that it's a deliberately stress-testing distribution designed to be 100% Free and to cause any hardware which isn't Free to fail. If nobody complains that broken stuff is broken, it won't get fixed. And requiring binary drivers *is* breakage. As soon as the kernel updates, potentially wham! go your drivers if there's no source code.

      "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:15PM (#24730711)

    Can I buy any old machine from Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. that works with Ubuntu, and expect it to work fully (graphics, sound, wireless, etc.) with GNewSense?

    If so, it would be a philosophically refreshing way of computing. Otherwise, pile it on the list of OS cruft that doesn't work.

    • by byolinux (535260) * on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:23PM (#24730759) Journal

      A lot of wireless cards require non-free firmware, but not all do.

      Graphics work well, but the very latest cards don't have 3d, neither do the nVidia cards.

      Certainly any laptop with Atheros wireless, Intel graphics and sound is going to work nicely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The graphics will work, but you have no GLX. (So no hardware acceleration for a start).

      • by marcello_dl (667940) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:40PM (#24730891) Homepage Journal

        on gnewsense 2.0 one could install the intel wifi drivers package(s) and separately install the firmware from a ubuntu deb (i did it with a lenny deb IIRC, it works). It taints the distro, yet you have the minimum amount of blobs installed. Of course one of the best possible places to hide spyware is in the wireless firm...[NO CARRIER] :)

        • by Kjella (173770)

          on gnewsense 2.0 one could install the intel wifi drivers package(s) and separately install the firmware from a ubuntu deb (i did it with a lenny deb IIRC, it works). It taints the distro, yet you have the minimum amount of blobs installed.

          Well, unless I'm mistaken most of the things gNewSense remove are binary drivers, and drivers you don't load are equally "dead" code on my machine as it is on a gNewSense machine. So if you take gNewSense, add whatever binary things you must have aren't you then in a roundabout way back where you started with Ubuntu? At least very, very close...

          • Starting with gnewsense and adding stuff is a little different than going to ubuntu. For example one may not feel necessary to add GLX for 3d. Or use epiphany, or iceweasel/burningdog/whatever to browse instead of FF3.

            Or, being very paranoid, blobs in the kernel or in drivers are not active until a single line of obfuscated code does the job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by YGingras (605709)

        Certainly any laptop with Atheros wireless, Intel graphics and sound is going to work nicely.

        I run gNewSense 2.0 on a Thinkpad X61. Video (Intel GM965) is accelerated in 2D but don't expect any 3D since GLX is non-free [gnewsense.org]. The buit-in Atheros (5424) works with open access points if I build the latest wireless compat release but I've had no luck with WEP and WPA. I use a Zydas USB dongle which works fine but won't come back from suspend. Otherwise, everything I can think of is fully functional.

    • by saibot834 (1061528) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:25PM (#24730771) Homepage

      You're missing the point in having a free (as in freedom) operating system. This is not about "getting hardware support at any costs" but "having a free os". Of course some hardware won't work with GNewSense. But this way, the distro supports hardware manufacturers who release their drivers under a free license (because their user don't have any problems!).

      It is a question of what is more important to you: 100% hardware support or freedom.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're missing the point in having a free (as in freedom) operating system. This is not about "getting hardware support at any costs" but "having a free os". Of course some hardware won't work with GNewSense. But this way, the distro supports hardware manufacturers who release their drivers under a free license (because their user don't have any problems!).

        It is a question of what is more important to you: 100% hardware support or freedom.

        (emphasis mine)

        With regard to computing, what's the point of being philosophically "free" if your hardware isn't supported by the software? Freedom itself can been seen from another light. If your hardware works completely, you have the freedom to be as productive as possible on that machine.

        • by Zigurd (3528) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:51PM (#24730981) Homepage

          One very serious point to being "free" is that, if you are serious about security, you want as much of your software to be available for security audit as possible.

          Another serious point to being "free" is reliability. Linux is reliable because it is open. Dilute the openness, and the reliability gets watered down, too.

          • One very serious point to being "free" is that, if you are serious about security, you want as much of your software to be available for security audit as possible

            You mean like the Debian OpenSSL patches, the community audited wide open security hole for mor than 1 1/2 years?

            Communities where maintainers know each other by nothing else than email can easily be infiltrated by "hostile" talent. They offer high quality contributions, seem to spend very much time discussion patches with much professionalism and politeness. In the end it might be just the made up personality Jon Doe of some organization X waiting to place just this one unsuspicious line within the code

            • by schon (31600) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @11:41PM (#24732519)

              Communities where maintainers know each other by nothing else than email can easily be infiltrated by "hostile" talent.

              What, precisely, does this have to do with the Debian OpenSSH fiasco?

              The Debian fubar was caused because the person responsible for packaging OpenSSH didn't have a clue about security, not because he was "hostile".

              If you want a real example of "hostile" code, one need only look at the Interbase backdoor, where a backdoor was included in every version shipped for 7 years. (Oh, whoops - that was commercial software, not open source, so it kinda defeats your argument, doens't it?)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)

          With regard to computing, what's the point of being philosophically "free" if your hardware isn't supported by the software?

          Wrong way around. What's the point of buying hardware that isn't supported by free software?

          If your hardware works completely, you have the freedom to be as productive as possible on that machine.

          Hardware with proprietary specs and that relies on proprietary drivers, does not "work completely".

      • by idiot900 (166952) *

        It is a question of what is more important to you: 100% hardware support or freedom.

        Software "GNU/Freedom" is great but I care less about that issue than I do about getting my work done. I think there is a knock-on effect at work here that indirectly hurts adoption of distros like gNewSense, even among people who agree with its goals.

        I need 3D acceleration on my Linux box to do my work, so I use Ubuntu with the nvidia binary blob. Because I like the GNU/FSF ideals, I could use gNewSense on other machines that don't require the binary blob, but that means I have to learn how to administer

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          (Replace "Ubuntu" with "Windows" and "gNewSense" with "Linux" for a parallel argument.)

          You'd also have to replace "3D acceleration" with something else. After all, this isn't just about convenience; it's not any specific driver so much as GLX itself that makes this impossible.

      • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:37PM (#24731273)
        Don't use a PC with any proprietary chips.

        Don't use a PC with a proprietary BIOS.

        Try find anything that meets that at all.

        These days all non-trivial chipsets and devices (mouse, monitor, graphics card, disk drives etc) have proprietary firmware built into them and are designed with some sort of HDL (essentially software). If you really want free computing then you should insist on those being free too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coaxial (28297)

        You're missing the point in having a free (as in freedom) operating system. This is not about "getting hardware support at any costs" but "having a free os". Of course some hardware won't work with GNewSense. But this way, the distro supports hardware manufacturers who release their drivers under a free license (because their user don't have any problems!).

        I call delusional bullshit, and here's why.

        You say that GNewSense (which is an apt, name if there ever has been for an FSF project) "supports hardware m

        • by zsau (266209) <slashdot@[ ]cart ... t ['the' in gap]> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @10:37PM (#24732069) Homepage Journal

          I call delusional bullshit, and here's why.

          There's a massive difference between "bullshit" and "being wrong" that I wish Slashdotters would learn. You probably believe the the PP to be wrong, so say that instead of insulting them. Even if you think they're deliberately spreading information they don't believe to be true, the normal rules of society say you don't just insult someone simply because they're wrong.

          It doesn't mean that, and it never did. (And don't even begin to pull that bullshit that there's no word in the English language that means "libre". There is. It's "liberated".)

          Not remotely true. Free software is exactly the same as a "free society". In a free society, you're not free to do whatever you want: for instance, you can't take someone's freedom away from them. (You two can engage in a contract to agree to do something, but the other party is still free to terminate or breech the contract. They may have to pay some consequences, but it doesn't diminish their freedom.) Or "free time"; you aren't obliged to do something in particular doing that time, but you aren't allowed to do anything. For instance, during free time at school you aren't allowed to leave the grounds; at work you aren't allowed to spend ten minutes undoing your last week's work.

          And "liberated" means something different from "libre". Something has only been liberated if it previously lacked freedom, and now has it; I am free, but I've never been liberated.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          Let's say there's some piece of hardware that there's a significant demand for a Linux driver. The manufacturer writes a driver for Linux. It works. But now some less than 1% comes around demanding that driver be released, but one already has been. Now the problem with the driver isn't that it doesn't exist, or doesn't work. It's that some vocal minority simply refuses to use it. That's a personal problem of their own manufacturing.

          Which perfectly explains why ATI has opened up their internal documentation and started helping out the people working on completely Free drivers. Oh wait...

          Also, let's not call GPL software "free." It's legally encumbered, just like everything else. If you want something to be truly free, then public domain it.

          You ought to know better -- the term "free" has many meanings, only some of which apply to the public domain. The FSF has never made a secret of the specific meanings that they mean when they use the term "Free." I believe there is a phrase, you've probably heard it, about beer...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnBailey (1092697)

      Can I buy any old machine from Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. that works with Ubuntu, and expect it to work fully (graphics, sound, wireless, etc.) with GNewSense?

      If so, it would be a philosophically refreshing way of computing. Otherwise, pile it on the list of OS cruft that doesn't work.

      And if the whole free part of FOSS is of ultimate importance to you, you will be carefully selecting individual components based on the availability of 100% open drivers, so an of the shelf machine would not be the one you want.

      Personally, I have no use for this kind of distro either, but I'm not a "free or nothing" Linux user. I use the Nvidia drivers, I use the Gstreamer codec packs, I listen to MP3s and watch and create DVDs. I even play commercial games.. Shocking I know, but I'm still a Linux user. So

  • good start (Score:5, Funny)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:25PM (#24730769) Journal

    gNewSense is a good start towards giving the users FREEdom with an entirely FREE operating system. Binary blobs are bad. Those that are willing to sacrifice source code for working drivers deserve neither.

    But I'm concerned it doesn't go far enough. Even if the distro doesn't include non-FREE software in the repositories, users can still download and use it. Perhaps the OS should include a whitelist of hashes for all FREE software and only allow it to be run -- non-FREE software would terminate (SIGNOTFREE?). Or maybe a better approach would be to only execute binaries which have been encrypted/signed by the FSF, so we know it's FREE software.

    I think that would ensure FREEdom.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Azure.Rise (1350563)
      I've been coming to Slashdot for a while and never made an account, but I had to create an account just to respond to you. What you just described is the complete opposite. Only being allowed to run the software they allow you to? That's less freedom than any other OS, including Windows. Users should be allowed to install whatever they want, it's their CHOICE they should have the FREEDOM to do what they want with their system, and that's what it's really about. Many Linux users use proprietary software. I h
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coryking (104614) *

        The poster you replied to was obviously being funny. But if you view the GNU movement (especially in it's modern day activist form) through not through the lens of "technology" but the lens of "religion", it makes perfect sense. You can't have religion unless you have a way of knowing who the true believers are. It is harder to "belive" in a relgion unless you have to do some work to prove the faith to yourself. In catholisism, you prove your faith by abstaining from sex (unless for procreation). In GN

      • You must be new-- oh, I see...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ovideon (634144)

        I tried to mod your post, but unfortunately there's no -1 Wooooosh.

    • I don't know if you are serious, or if you are joking. I hope you are aiming for +5 funny, because I think you are, but your the point you are arguing is very close to RMS's opinion* about the evils of helping people installing less-Free software on a Free OS. Given his strong opinion on the topic of non-Free software, I can't really understand this sentence: "Since the last release, more non-free binary blobs have been removed, ....". Does that mean GNewSense included and still includes non-Free blob's?
      • Re:good start (Score:4, Informative)

        by bbrazil (729534) <brian.brazil@gmail.com> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:06PM (#24731073) Homepage

        Given his strong opinion on the topic of non-Free software, I can't really understand this sentence: "Since the last release, more non-free binary blobs have been removed, ....". Does that mean GNewSense included and still includes non-Free blob's?

        We keep finding more of them in odd places.

        See http://bugs.gnewsense.org/Bugs/00164 [gnewsense.org] for the background to that particular sentence. In Hardy, some non-free blobs moved from the kernel to a package we'd never heard about before. Once this was reported, they were removed within 5 hours.

        I'm not currently aware of any non-free blobs in gNewSense. To ensure it stays that way, some time ago we kicked off an exhaustive check of the Kernel, which has already gone through all the "hotspots". We also did a check of all of 'main' for 1.1.

    • Yeah, great. Free software in terms of liberty and cost that allows you the freedom to do anything you want, except run software you want to run that doesn't comply with the necessary rules. That's like saying you can get a Ford Model T in any color you like, so long as it's black.
  • Bad name, no "wow" factor (like OS X or even Ubuntu (Windows has no "wow" to it IMO, it has a bureaucratic feel to it)), it appears to have no marketing (why do this if you're not actively bringing it to people? And don't give me the "diversity" speech, a scaled down version of ubuntu, of which there are already too many to count, does nothing to increase diversity (again IMO; stating an opinion; could be, and likely is, wrong; etc))

    I see no pros, only cons, someone enlighten me

    • by cduffy (652)

      Bad name, no "wow" factor (like OS X or even Ubuntu (Windows has no "wow" to it IMO, it has a bureaucratic feel to it)), it appears to have no marketing (why do this if you're not actively bringing it to people? And don't give me the "diversity" speech, a scaled down version of ubuntu, of which there are already too many to count, does nothing to increase diversity (again IMO; stating an opinion; could be, and likely is, wrong; etc))

      I see no pros, only cons, someone enlighten me

      Test suites typically have on

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      GNewSense is not meant for the average person the way Ubuntu/Fedora/OS X/Windows is. It is meant more or less for developers who want to either A) have a totally free system or B) have a free system as a base for other distros.

      No matter what the people from the FSF will tell you, GNewSense is not meant for the average person.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:29PM (#24730809) Homepage Journal

    There are already hundreds (thousands?) of Linux distros. But apparently all of them have licensing terms that are Evil, so we need one another one.

    Or do we? Each existing distro has some kind of user community, and presumably those users have some reason for preferring that particular distro. Are they going to abandon their current distro and and switch to this one, just because it meets the FSF's arcane political requirements? And if your distro doesn't have a user community, why bother creating it?

    • by garett_spencley (193892) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:47PM (#24730957) Journal

      I'm not involved with the project so I can't speak for them and give you an authoritative answer ... but knowing that every single piece of software in the distro is GPL (or OSI approved or whatever ... I'm not familiar with the specifics of the project) is beneficial when chosing a framework to build upon.

      One example: a hardware manufacturer that wants to sell a machine pre-installed with Linux. With certain distros there may be proprietary software that you don't have the right to redistribute. With GNewSense you have 100% peace of mind and no hassle dealing with licenses etc.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        That's a good point, one I hadn't thought about. But if licensing issues are a problem for pre-installed Linux, how have existing manufacturers coped? Note that this distro is just Ubuntu with all the "restricted" (closed-source, but freely redistributable) stuff removed. I see nothing in Ubuntu's licensing [ubuntu.com] that would prevent somebody from selling a system with Ubuntu pre-installed.

        In any case, GNewSense's mission statement [gnewsense.org] has nothing to say about the legal hassles of people selling Linux-based PCs. It's a

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bbrazil (729534)

          Remember, this is the Free Software Foundation, which doesn't do anything non-ideological.

          This is a common misconception - gNewSense is not and has never been run by the FSF. They approached us after our first release. Since then, they have provided us with hardware and helped out here and there. We're obviously on very friendly terms and help them out where we can, but they don't run the show.

          • by fm6 (162816)

            OK, I stand corrected.

            As long as we have the attention of somebody actually involved with creating the distro, perhaps you could respond to the point I raised at the top of the thread [slashdot.org].

  • by coryking (104614) * on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:32PM (#24730833) Homepage Journal

    I really, truly believe that "Free Software(tm)", "Agile Methodology," or "Ruby on Rails" are all forms of the religion "virus" that infect brains with creator stories, only dressed up in a nice, geek friendly suit.

    - Linux heavy blogs are forms of church.
    - Closed source printer drivers are the original sin.
    - RMS is the prophet who will save us from our sins
    - OLPC is the nerd equivalent of a missionary spreading the gospel of Free Software to the heathens in "3rd world countries"
    - Microsoft is the devil.

    Want more?

    - Catholicism and other religions are heavy on using guilt. Guilt usually is the result of doing something pleasurable.
    - In the GNU religion, guilt comes from taking pleasure in using "non-free software".
    - It is honorable to suffer in the quest towards enlightenment.
    - Gnusense requires suffering because most things do not work. Thus, you suffer and become a true member of the GNU religion.
    - You can cleanse yourself of this guilt and prove yourself by abstaining from non-free software.
    - BSD, Creative Commons licenses, and other licenses are geek versions of The Koran, Buddhist literature, or the Tanakh. These documents go against god (RMS)'s word and those who use them should have their Code assimilated by the GPL.

    I could go on, but I'm kinda serious. It is scary how close the GNU/GPL/FSF thing parallels major religions. The methods used by the brain virus (think a genetic virus, only the meme version) operate on the same kinds of "Sin" and "Pain/Suffering/Pleasure" emotions the old-school religions like Catholicism did.

    GNUsense is just the beginning of modern tech-religions. It won't be long before the Futurama's "Church of Star Wars" comes true. Or perhaps followers of the GNU faith will become reckless like the Star Trek nerds in Futurama did and we'll have to send RMS and crew to a remote planet inhabited by floating clouds of Slashdot nerd dust who make him do tricks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Unbeliever! Your karma shall be burned at the stake and ACs shall tear at your words with biting remarks!
      You shall be forced to endure shame of working but impure hardware acceleration and working WiFi adapters for all eternity.
      May RMS have mercy on your poor soul.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        May RMS have mercy on your poor soul.

        What makes this particular relgion so interesting, now that I think about it, is it doesn't really play off the fears of death like an old-school one does. There is no mention of going to some bad place when you die in any of its scriptures. What this virus feeds of, I think, is our fears of acting against our peer group. It takes advantage of many of it's hosts bad memories of their childhood and uses those bad memories as a way to rebel. The virus exploits the fact that its hosts self-select internet

    • I don't know if you meant to misspell "ideology", but somehow "idiology" seems like a more appropriate spelling in this context anyway...

    • by SD-Arcadia (1146999) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:30PM (#24731217) Homepage
      Your caricaturized analogies apply to all organized social movements. You may attempt to devalue any pursuit of social objective as "religious", as religions are also organized social movements in pursuit of an objective. Here: - Neoliberal capitalism is a form of church. - State protection of industries are the original sin. - Milton Friedman is the prophet who will save us from our sins. - The Bretton-Woods institutions are the equivalent of missonaries spreading the gospel of neoliberalism to "3rd world countries. - Karl Marx is the devil. And this demonstrates, what?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by poopdeville (841677)

        GP also doesn't understand the difference between guilt and shame-based cultures, characterizing 'guilt' as something that arises from pleasurable acts. (That's called 'pleasure', not guilt.) Indeed, GP appears to be entrenched in a guilt-based culture's mindset.

    • by Eil (82413) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @09:34PM (#24731723) Homepage Journal

      While we geeks and hackers really don't mind a bit of humour thrown in our direction from time to time, I would please ask you to reconsider your comparing our hobby to that of an idea which

      - asks people to believe in one or more all-powerful beings in the sky despite even a shred of supporting evidence,

      - has always been used by the worlds most influential political and social leaders for the sole purpose of personal and monetary gain, and

      - has persuaded millions upon millions of people to kill, get killed, or kill themselves over the course of human history.

      Although your metaphors are interesting and could make for a mediocre sci-fi novel some day, vanishingly few people actually take the Free Software thing to the degree that you're claiming. 99.9% of us just want to hack away on our machines or build a business without being dependent on closed proprietary systems.

      And besides, RMS is way too much of an asshole to be considered a prophet no matter how you torture the definition of the word.

  • And why didn't the author make an effort with a couple of words in the article summary?

    • by g0at (135364)

      Huh. Either I'm blind, or the article was just updated. Obviously my above criticism is baseless. Oops.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      What in the hell is gNewSense?

      Actually, "the fully-free GNU/Linux distribution" pretty much says it all. Take your normal distro, rip out everything of binary blobs, firmware, obfuscated code and whatever else doesn't fit the FSF/GPL agenda, and you have gNewSense. Most people are happy to use a system that's 90/10 free for practical reasons, gNewSense are for people who will make no compromise for practicality. I guess it works for RMS and everyone else that thinks anything non-OSS is an abomination of nature, but I'll keep on running

    • Real Slashdotters have a full mirror of English Wikipedia in their brain, updated daily, just in case.
  • Welcome back Debian? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:35PM (#24730849) Homepage Journal

    The two biggest reasons why Ubuntu came into being in the first place were:

    1. Releases not happening fast enough
    2. A dogmatic belief that abstaining from using proprietary software will cause the development of free replacements.

    The solution to the first was to insist on a 6 month release schedule. The solution to the second was to put forward the policy that the best of all alternatives will be chosen, so if you want the free alternative to win, make it better than the proprietary alternative.

    • The solution to the second was to put forward the policy that the best of all alternatives will be chosen

      That's not the Ubuntu policy. The Ubuntu policy is to not include any proprietary applications (except in repositories for later install), and to only include proprietary drivers if there's no working free alternative (even if the proprietary version is better).

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "2. A dogmatic belief that abstaining from using proprietary software will cause the development of free replacements."

      Akin to a dogmatic belief that not paying for pussy will get you laid.

  • So linux is not free enough for you?

    I don't know what kind of person would use this distribution, but I would not want to sit next to them on a cross country bus trip.

    I read somewhere that they even removed GLX- which basically represents linux's only sane graphical development. That is just sad.

    Don't get me wrong- I love opensource technologies, but let's face it... part of what makes linux awesome is the fact that it's generally supported by some important commercial things like adobe flash and nvidia (f

    • part of what makes linux awesome is the fact that it's generally supported by some important commercial things like adobe flash and nvidia

      Yes, that commercial support is why most of us choose Linux over BSD or Solaris. GNewSense simply removes the competitive advantage of Linux.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        GNewSense simply removes the competitive advantage of Linux.

        I often wondered why we have viruses that killed their hosts yet remained successful in nature. However, it makes perfect sense when you consider that most of these host-killing viruses propagate because they make their host shit in the water or cough all over the place. Since they don't rely on human reproduction to propagate, as long as their host gets sick and somebody breaths their cough or drinks the contaiminated water, they are successful.

        As a brain virus, you might wonder how GNU could remain succ

  • I use Gnewsense (Score:2, Informative)

    by br00tus (528477)

    I use Gnewsense as my home desktop. I have been happy with it. Really it is just Ubuntu with the binary blobs ripped out. When I have a problem with something, I search the web for with the error message and Ubuntu instead of Gnewsense, since there are more Ubuntu users.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Why don't you use Ubuntu? And I'm not trying to troll, but why would the average person use GNewSense as a normal desktop rather than using Ubuntu which seems to have more of everything (more repos, more drivers, etc)
  • questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:42PM (#24730905) Homepage

    If this is something that some people want, then that's great, more power to them. But I'm left with a lot of misgivings:

    1. If I was really serious about running a system with no binary blobs, I think I'd probably run OpenBSD. The level of hassles you encounter with an OS basically depends on how big its audience is and how many resources it has available. When it comes to something that's even more obscure than OpenBSD, I'm chicken. And I'm not clear on what advantages GNewSense would have over OpenBSD.
    2. If you have hardware whose only linux support is via binary blobs, then you can't use GNewSense, because your hardware won't work. If you have hardware that has linux support via OSS drivers, then you don't need GNewSense, you can just install ubuntu and select OSS drivers rather than any binary drivers that are also available.
    3. All other things being equal, I'd love to buy only hardware that's got good OSS support, and run only OSS drivers. Unfortunately, doing that is much, much harder than it should be. For example, I bought my kids $200 Linux boxes to put in their rooms, and we don't want to drill holes and run cables, so we're using wifi for those machines. The wifi cards I bought had Rt61 and Rt2500 chipsets. The FSF [fsf.org] says that the Rt2500 has support from open-source drivers, whereas the Rt61 doesn't. But actually, the OSS drivers for the Rt2500 don't really work in my experience. That is, if you install the Linksys binary-blob drivers via ndiswrapper, and you start Gnome, you get a little logo that shows you you've automatically established an internet connection, it shows you the power level, everything works. If you install the OSS driver, then apparently none of that works. No, my kids are not going to open a terminal window every time they want internet access and type cryptic commands. If you search on ubuntuforums.org, you'll find dozens of threads about getting Rt2500 wifi to work using ndiswrapper, with lots of discussion of the various pitfalls, etc. Why would people be putting that amount of effort into installing the binary blobs if the OSS support actually worked well, as the FSF claims?
    4. Their faq [gnewsense.org] sort of makes it sound like other distros are toilet seats in public restrooms; they have lots of invisible germs that you'll get on you, and you won't know it. Realistically, I think Ubuntu and Debian make it reasonably clear when you're installing closed-source software. The faq mentions GLX as an example where you can inadvertently installed non-OSS software on Debian or Ubuntu. Rather than installing a very obscure distro, wouldn't it be easier just to install something like Ubuntu, do the research to find out that GLX isn't free (by someone's definition of free, which may or may not agree with yours), and then make a choice not to install it?
    • And I'm not clear on what advantages GNewSense would have over OpenBSD.

      Well, GNewSense is based on Linux which gives you slightly more software than *BSD (yes, you can emulate Linux on BSD). And GNewSense seems a lot more easy for the average computer user to install rather than OpenBSD (not that an average user would install either OpenBSD or GNewsense).

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:00PM (#24731037)
    it's ironic that the ideaology behind removing binary drivers is an attack on peoples freedoms - the freedom to develop and release software and hardware under the license that suits you. it's always seemed to me that RMS isn't about freedom, just his own twisted version of it.
  • by mad.frog (525085) <steven@criERDOSnklink.com minus math_god> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:10PM (#24731107)

    Only the FSF would remove functionality and consider that to be a feature rather than a bug...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bit01 (644603)

      Only the FSF would remove functionality and consider that to be a feature rather than a bug...

      Only a fanatic would consider the license as not being part of the featureset/functionality of a piece of software.

      ---

      Paid marketers are the worst zealots.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``Only the FSF would remove functionality and consider that to be a feature rather than a bug...''

      Actually, no. Less functionality means (ceteris paribus) less complexity. Less complexity has a very beneficial effect on various aspects; for example, security and learning curve.

      I am happy when I can get systems with less functionality. Provided, of course, that they can still do what I need them to do. As Albert Einstein put it: make it as simple as possible, but not any simpler.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @09:25PM (#24731651) Homepage
    It's not really a completely free distro, as they allow documentation that uses the GFDL license with invariant sections. Many (including Debian) consider that to be a non-free license, and do not allow it.
  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Monday August 25, 2008 @08:39AM (#24735451) Homepage Journal

    If it can suck all the hardcore purists into a place where they can quit annoying the rest of us, that'll be great.

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