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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 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 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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 LWATCDR (28044) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:53PM (#24730993) Homepage Journal

    You are mistaking Freedom with the Dogma of RMS. Hey if you want to use this just fine and dandy but I am willing to bet that the vast majority of people that praise this and other totally "free" software don't use this.
    Take a look at ATI. ATI is working on releasing the specs of their cards and helping to write Open Source drivers. But they are not ready yet and they still have some legal issues that they are working out.
    But in the meantime they have released good binary drivers.
    Wouldn't it be a great compromise to put those the working Open Source drivers in the distro along with the binary drivers for those that don't. That would reward ATI for what they are doing. Encourage people to buy ATI video cards. And help people get fully functioning systems?

    One final note. Does this disto only include GPL code? No BSD allowed... So it must be "free" and defined by RMS....

  • by coryking (104614) * on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:03PM (#24731049) Homepage Journal

    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 anybody worthy of this operating system will not care what the name of it is, so we'll name it something geeky (GNU-newspeak for stupid) to sift out the non-believers".

    The reason this stuff works is that if forces the follower of the religion to go against common sense. Most christians on some level know "heaven/hell" is probably not fact. Most GNU followers know marking serves a place, and it works even on them. But the act of forcing their concious mind to rebel against the urges (and common sense) provided by their sub-conscious causes suffering, which they rationalize as "I'm proving my worth".

    Hell, GNU wouldn't be able to market itself as a religion if they tried doing anything at all that resembles marketing. The fact that this brain virus makes its host have to force their brain to counteract reality is what makes it, just like other religions, so effective.

  • by mad.frog (525085) <.steven. .at. .crinklink.com.> 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...

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:10PM (#24731109)

    Take a look at ATI. ATI is working on releasing the specs of their cards and helping to write Open Source drivers. But they are not ready yet and they still have some legal issues that they are working out. But in the meantime they have released good binary drivers.

    I take it someone has never used ATI's drivers. The binary ones are horrible. On the other hand nVidia's proprietary drivers are decent or better.

  • by poopdeville (841677) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @08:35PM (#24731251)

    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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2008 @09:04PM (#24731507)

    >OLPC is the nerd equivalent of a missionary >spreading the gospel of Free Software to the >heathens in "3rd world countries"

    Did you miss that whole episode where they decided that they wouldnt be spreading the free software gospel and the vrious heads and security guys who quit the project?

    St Nicholas has lost the free software faith.
    In return, many of his followers have lost faith in him.

  • 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.

  • by Thinboy00 (1190815) <thinboy00@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 24, 2008 @10:36PM (#24732067) Journal
    Obviously, they use a different definition of "freedom" [freedomdefined.org] from you. (Note to mod:I'm not endorsing either in this comment, at worst I'm playing devil's advocate)
  • Re:I use Gnewsense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by br00tus (528477) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @11:06PM (#24732283)

    Well, I think the question can be answered with a question - why not just use Microsoft Vista? I'd have less to worry about than Ubuntu.

    I like Gnewsense because it is free as in freedom, as opposed to free as in beer. I have no need of the binary blobs and such that Ubuntu has. Using Gnewsense makes me aware of what is free and not free. There still is no full-fledged free Java right now (although Sun says they're releasing a free version of Java). Yes there are free clones, but not a full-fledged one like Sun's. This is something I didn't know until I began using an OS in the Debian family (previously I used Debian, now I use Gnewsense). It also makes me aware of the freeness of stuff like Flash on sites like Youtube. I use gnash, which has problems, and I haven't even fully hooked it into Firefox yet - I grab the Youtube URL and run videos on the command line. It also makes me aware of free Flash alternatives like SVG.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2008 @12:50AM (#24732935)

    The nVidia drivers are better, but nVidia is less free.

    You are seriously out of date. The ATI closed-source drivers for Linux are now better than Nvidia drivers for Linux.

    Since AMD bought ATI out they've made a serious effort to get an open source driver for all the recent chips. Including, if I understand correctly, funding work on the radeonhd driver.

    Correct.

    http://www.phoronix.com/ [phoronix.com] has the whole story.

    The nVidia drivers work, but if you're using a platform like FreeBSD on the amd64, there are no drivers at this point, and it'll be a while.

    Not really.

    Nvidia drivers, for example, don't work properly with KDE 4.

    Hold the phone, Nvidia may have just recently fixed that:
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia_17768&num=1 [phoronix.com]

    If so, that is long overdue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2008 @12:56AM (#24732963)

    Many idealist social movements *are* religion-like. In general anything espousing One Single Principle for understanding and managing [the economy | software | law-making] is probably sketchy. However there's a difference between a movement grounded in economic theory and experience that argues for certain changes to economic policy and a movement asking you to harass Apple employees [defectivebydesign.org] because the iPhone isn't running free software.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday August 25, 2008 @01:13AM (#24733081) Homepage
    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 flavours to suit the various desks it ends up on, starts to make a lot of sense.

    Also if your are into low cost appliance styled computers, this provides a easy to add onto distribution to suit your particular appliance, be it a home broadband modem/router/switch/family server or a smart phone/PDA or a budget UMPC or a TV with pretensions of being a computer/server. It would certainly serve a lot of compatibility issues.

  • by ozphx (1061292) on Monday August 25, 2008 @01:31AM (#24733163) Homepage

    Except for the non-free microcode in your processor...

  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday August 25, 2008 @02:23AM (#24733419)

    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 wants a base with long-term support (such as CentOS or an Ubuntu LTS release). GNewSense doesn't fit the bill.

    Also if your are into low cost appliance styled computers, this provides a easy to add onto distribution to suit your particular appliance, be it a home broadband modem/router/switch/family server or a smart phone/PDA or a budget UMPC or a TV with pretensions of being a computer/server. It would certainly serve a lot of compatibility issues.

    Ehh, no. Building something like that, even glibc can be too heavy. Notice my mention of specialized embedded distros? They exist for a reason; desktop distros are not a good starting place.

  • by bit01 (644603) on Monday August 25, 2008 @03:20AM (#24733727)

    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.

  • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Monday August 25, 2008 @04:40AM (#24734131)
    This is a very interesting point.

    How comfortable are the FSF with the fact that their free software is being executed on a piece of hard/firmware whose design is entirely proprietary and unable to be changed ? If they just shrug their shoulders and say "We have to trust the manufacturers to get it right otherwise there'd be no GNU", I don't see it as all that far away from trusting binary blobs. After all, it's not like processors are guaranteed to be bug-free...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug [wikipedia.org]
  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday August 25, 2008 @05:31AM (#24734415)

    Just because open-sourcing the embedded software in the flight-controller of the F-16 would might improve the quality of the software from the peer review of thousands of aerospace engineers worldwide, doesn't make it an appropriate application of open sourcing software.

    If weapons systems were GPLd and that weapons system crashed in some enemy country and that enemy country read the binaries out of the Roms, would they be able to demand access to the source code?

  • Re:I use Gnewsense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by coaxial (28297) on Monday August 25, 2008 @06:23AM (#24734637) Homepage

    Well, I think the question can be answered with a question - why not just use Microsoft Vista?

    Easy. Vista isn't Unix.

    I like Gnewsense because it is free as in freedom, as opposed to free as in beer. I have no need of the binary blobs and such that Ubuntu has. Using Gnewsense makes me aware of what is free and not free. There still is no full-fledged free Java right now (although Sun says they're releasing a free version of Java). Yes there are free clones, but not a full-fledged one like Sun's. This is something I didn't know until I began using an OS in the Debian family (previously I used Debian, now I use Gnewsense). It also makes me aware of the freeness of stuff like Flash on sites like Youtube. I use gnash, which has problems, and I haven't even fully hooked it into Firefox yet - I grab the Youtube URL and run videos on the command line. It also makes me aware of free Flash alternatives like SVG.

    Your dedication to maintaining a substandard existence is admirable. No wait. That's not the word. What is it? Oh yeah. Pitiable.

    Oh. And SVG doesn't support video, so you're still screwed.

  • by bit01 (644603) on Monday August 25, 2008 @07:52AM (#24735065)

    No. Its the fact that its usability has been gimped.

    Ha ha.

    You're a zealot. Gimp can be learned in minutes. Gimp doesn't follow all the user interface conventions that it should but it follows most, has extensive online help and is more usable than most other programs, proprietary or otherwise. If gimp is difficult for you to use then I'd suggest you look in the mirror, not at gimp.

    ---

    Beware deceptive astroturfers [wikipedia.org].

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