gNewSense

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gNewSense
Gnewsense3.0 Logo.png
Gnewsensescreenshot.png
gNewSense 3.0 with GNOME 2 desktop
Company / developer Current: Sam Geeraerts
former: K.Goetz
Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current1
Initial release November 2, 2006; 7 years ago (2006-11-02)
Latest release 3.12 / February 9, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-02-09)
Update method APT
Package manager dpkg / Synaptic Package Manager
Supported platforms Loongson, x86, x86-64
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux-libre)
Userland GNU
Default user interface GNOME
License Exclusively free software licenses per GNU Guidelines for Free System Distributions3
Official website www.gnewsense.org

gNewSense is a computer operating system, originally based on Ubuntu and later upon Debian, and developed with sponsorship from the Free Software Foundation. Its goal is user-friendliness, but with all proprietary (e.g. binary blobs) and non-free software removed. The Free Software Foundation considers gNewSense to be composed entirely of free software.4

gNewSense takes a relatively strict stance against proprietary software. For example, any documentation that gives instructions on installing proprietary software is excluded.5 gNewSense is the distribution used by Richard Stallman (founder and president of the Free Software Foundation) as of January 20106 and he still used it in April 2014.7

History

The project was launched by Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley in 2006. Since the 1.0 release, the Free Software Foundation assists gNewSense.8

With no releases in two years, on 8 August 2011, Distrowatch classified gNewSense as "dormant". On 12 October 2011, K. Goetz announced he was stepping down as gNewSense project leader and that Sam Geeraerts would be filling that position. By September 2012 DistroWatch had changed the status to "active" again and on 6 August 2013 a new version, gNewSense 3.0 "Parkes", was released.191011

Technical aspects

A stylized graphic of a tree
gNewSense logo, used from 2007 to 2013

By default gNewSense uses GNOME, the official desktop environment of the GNU Project. The graphical user interface can be customized with the user's choice of X display manager, window managers, and other desktop environments available to install through its hosted repositories.12

The Ubiquity installer allows installing to the hard disk from within the Live CD environment without the need for restarting the computer prior to installation.13

Besides standard system tools and other small applications, gNewSense comes installed with the following software: the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, the Epiphany Internet browser recently renamed to simply "Web", the Empathy instant messenger, and the GIMP for editing photos and other raster graphics. Common software development tools including the GCC are installed by default.14

Installation

The Live CD can be used to run the Operating System and to install onto disk. CD images are available for download.15

Versions

gNewSense has made three major releases (TBA stands for to be announced):

Version Code name Release date Supported until Based on Supported architectures
Old version, no longer supported: 1.0 DeltaD 2006-11-02 Old version, no longer supported: 2008-05-01 Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake" N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 2.0 DeltaH 2008-04-30 Old version, no longer supported: 2014-01-03 Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" N/A
Current stable version: 3.01110 Parkes 2013-08-06 Current stable version: TBA Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" i386, amd64, Lemote Yeelong
Future release: 4.0 Next TBA Future release: TBA Debian 7.2 "Wheezy" i386, amd64, Lemote Yeelong
Legend:
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release

Comparison with other distributions

Non-free software repositories are not provided by the gNewSense project, most non-free documentation and artwork have been removed. While it was based on Ubuntu, the "Universe" package repository was enabled by default. In order to avoid trademark problems that stem from the modification of Mozilla Firefox, gNewSense 1.1 rebranded it as "BurningDog". BurningDog likewise does not offer to install non-free plugins16 for various web media, such as Adobe Flash. gNewSense 2.0 uses the Epiphany web browser as released by the GNOME Project, with an option in software sources to install GNU IceCat.citation needed gNewSense 3.0 uses Epiphany as the default browser, but also comes with Iceweasel.citation needed

Debian is another Linux distribution noted for strict licensing requirements. gNewSense excludes non-free software that Debian includes (such as proprietary firmware) and does not have repositories for non-free software (which Debian has). Similar to Debian, gNewSense policies do not allow including documentation that are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License with invariant sections.17 This includes many manuals and documentation released by the GNU project themselves.

Limitations

Since gNewSense's repositories contain only free software, support for hardware which requires non-free firmware (such as some wireless network cards) is not available.18

By May 1, 2008, 3D graphics and application support had also been removed 19 because of licensing issues20 with Mesa 3D. After January 13, 2009, those issues had been resolved and 3D support became standard starting with the 2.2 release.21

Reception

In reviewing gNewSense 3.0 in August 2013, Jesse Smith of DistroWatch noted that many of the applications provided, including OpenOffice.org 3, the 2.6.32 Linux-libre kernel, IceWeasel 3.5 and GNOME 2.30 were quite out of date. Smith concluded this review with the following words:18

Generally speaking, I was happy with gNewSense 3.0. Being based on Debian, the distribution can be counted on to provide both stability and amazing performance. The distribution is lean, fast and uncluttered. The flip side to this is gNewSense's system installer and default package management tools are geared more toward experienced users and will probably provide a steep learning curve to novice Linux users. Not much is automated and there is a minimum of hand holding. The main feature of gNewSense, the lack of proprietary software, is also a double-edged blade. On the one hand, it means the entire operating system can be audited, modified and redistributed. This is great from the perspective of software freedom. The fact that the distribution can play most multimedia formats and handled Flash content fairly well is a testament of the power of free and open source software. The one problem I ran into with gNewSense's software policy was with regards to my wireless network card. Most distributions ship with the non-free Intel firmware, but gNewSense doesn't include it and this means the distribution isn't a good fit with my laptop. It is, on the other hard sic, a great match with my desktop system.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "DistroWatch.com: gNewSense". Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  2. ^ "[gNewSense-users] gNewSense 3.1 released". Lists.nongnu.org. 2014-02-09. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  3. ^ https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-distros.html
  4. ^ "List of Free GNU/Linux Distributions - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation". Gnu.org. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  5. ^ "Community guidelines – gNewSense GNU/Linux". Wiki.gnewsense.org. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  6. ^ "An interview with Richard Stallman". Richard.stallman.usesthis.com. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  7. ^ Vito Gentile. "GNU/Linux Meeting 2014: Richard Stallman approda a Palermo" (in (Italian)). HTML.it. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  8. ^ "gNewSense 1.0 released – Free Software Foundation". Fsf.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  9. ^ Goetz, K. (12 October 2011). "News". gNewSense. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "FAQ – gNewSense GNU/Linux". Gnewsense.org. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  11. ^ a b Sneddon, Joey (8 August 2013). "gNewSense 3 Released, Is No Longer Based on Ubuntu". OMG Ubuntu. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Introduction to the Desktop Environment gnewsense.org
  13. ^ Using the Live CD gnewsense.org
  14. ^ Using gNewSense gnewsense.org
  15. ^ Download stable gNewSense
  16. ^ "gNewSense Official Website | Main / PressRelease20070122". Gnewsense.org. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  17. ^ "LicenceInformationUpdate - gNewSense GNU/Linux". Gnewsense.org. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  18. ^ a b Smith, Jesse (26 August 2013). "Freedom and gNewSense 3.0". DistroWatch. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "Main/Deltah – gNewSense GNU/Linux". Gnewsense.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  20. ^ xserver-xorg: wordy SGI license may not be free bugs.gnewsense.org
  21. ^ "3D graphics are 100% free software — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software". Fsf.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 

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