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The pointlessness of the FSF endorsed distros based on Ubuntu...


A pure Free-Software distro is a very hard ambition as well as an hard goal to accomplish, you have to deal with your hardware and if your hardware is not compliance with the free Software it is almost impossible running a pure libre distro. But back to time when even installing a standard distro was an impossible task, Ubuntu came out helping a lot of people making easier installing linux on whatever hardware. However we have to flip the point of observation, at the beginning there were just free drivers mostly made through reverse engineering, most of them were too buggy or unreliables, and the few closed drivers were hard to obtain or unavailable to the end users. Hence running a linux distro and having a laptop or a PC with 100% hardware recognized was very hard to achieve but not for Ubuntu. Ubuntu made easy installing blob binaries on Linux and making your hardware properly working, cool! All of we are in debt with Canonical for this because Ubuntu broken this barrier and helped all the distro to achieve the same, pointing the direction to follow. The main point is Ubuntu used... show more
#linux #ubuntu #debian #freesoftware #fsf #libresoftware #softwarelibre #linuxlibre #gnu #floss #inux (x) debian (x) floss (x) freesoftware (x) fsf (x) gnu (x) libresoftware (x) linuxlibre (x) softwarelibre (x) ubuntu (x)

The reason why Trisquel is based on Ubuntu is that Ubuntu has a predictable release schedule and long term support. In addition, Ubuntu is very new comer friendly.

Ubuntu is not new comer friendly. Their community let people simply install ppa's, snaps, etc... which makes is unreliable and might break it sooner or later (mostly sooner).

The post Daniel wrote is not about that, it is about using real free software distributions.

To me, it's new comer friendly. if it wasn't for Ubuntu, I wouldn't even be using a distro. So to some, it sure is new comer friendly. For it to be absolutely denied as 'new comer friendly' to everybody is pure silly.

Let me tell you a story. I started out using rpm based distro's in 1997 or so. It was ok at that time. I simply compiled the software that was not distributed.

People told me about Debian but at that point in time it did not appeal to me.

Some 15 years ago I started to work for a small company that ran services for universities. People would write papers, upload them and they had done that for years. Those documents where available by the public.

A search engine was introduced to index pdf, ps and other documents. This ran on openbsd but it simply ran either out of processes or memory every 3 days. I talked to the 'owner' and suggested to run it on Linux. Het told me to either use Debian or stuff it (he knew I hated it).

It worked fine. Even a few years after I left that position I got an e-mail that it was still working great.

Ubuntu gave me and co-workers head aches in private usage and in business. Simply do not use it. It is not tested, it uses closed source stuff and the community is not able to help you.

If you do think it is a great di... show more

I've been using Ubuntu since it started, and I can't fault it. Before that I used RPM based distros, and got sick and tired of trying to find dependencies. So my desktop computer runs Ubuntu with Gnome Vanilla, and my little HP Mini is running MX18 which is Debian based.

I'm a newbie, Ubuntu, to me, was easy for me to learn 'new comer friendly'. notice how I qualified my response, 'to me'. what you said was 'it's not new comer friendly' as an absolute. I'm a new comer, it was and is still 'new comer friendly' to me. I'm not hard core developer, I'm a simpleton user. I don't care FSF. All I care is, it works for me a newbie. Is Ubuntu the same today as it was 10 years ago? if you had a bad experience riding a bike or driving a car, is it bad for others?

About the release scheduling, we have a Debian stable every two years and an old stable for further two years. Since the moment with Debian you move from a Stable to Stable from a desktop perspective a LTS it is not so necessary, from a server perspective exists a program about a very old stable, but pure libre OSs are not oriented for a servers purpose.

About the user friendly approach is almost killed by the assence of the propietary software. However Ubuntu has a better designed installer than Debian, but the one available in Debian is enough easy for every one.

In my opinion the only newcomer pain in Debian is absence of non-free firmware in the main distro. It can (but not necessarily) make installation trickier. Otherwise I don't see much problem with the installer, it is very straightforward and human-readable.

Myself I don't see much difference between the two from the newcomer point of view.

What I didn't like in past experience with Ubuntu: little things kept breaking. Not anything serious but still. Debian seems solid although I had to install some apps directly to get fresher versions (e.g. Firefox). On the other hand my mom would be fine with the stock Firefox :)

Debian has unofficial versions with blob drivers already available for the installation.

Well, unofficial is unofficial - not something newbie would try :)

I ran pureos in a vm to see what it is like. Seems solid but I am not sure if it will be updated for important dsa's. Maybe I misread about that topic.

I am planning to install it on a laptop soon and see what it looks like when using older hardware.

If you are interested in Pureos you can read this article:

https://puri.sm/posts/what-is-pureos-and-how-is-it-built/

Honestly I would use gNewSense I mean, Purism is super cool, their laptops are super cool, but they are following their path because eventually they have or need to sell their products. Everything they do is based on their needs as a company, even if them are a social company. If you are not using their hardware you don't need to install PureOS and if you are enough strong to survive without making neither a deal with a closed software you don't even need to use gNewSense because Debian by default doesn't install closed software.

http://www.gnewsense.org/Documentation/3/DifferencesWithDebian

@Alexander Those versions are unofficials but officials, are provided by Debian itself, are made for that hardware that works only with blob drivers.

https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images-including-firmware/

x86 is still difficult for free software because Microsoft, Intel, and others it that way. Bill Gates had Microsoft design ACPI to intentionally exclude "Linux" and launched unmitigated software patent warfare to be sure overcoming the problems would never be profitable. Software owners, these are the people to be angry with. x86 sucks the same way or worse when run with monopoly malware. Cooperating with them in anyway is a disservice.

Including non free software can help someone who has not been careful take their first steps towards software freedom. The new user gets to see what free software can do, but it is ultimately if not immediately disappointing and a false impression. The drivers are soon broken by upgrades because the software owner has not really cooperated with the community, and the end result is that the distribution looks as broken as Windows is. If the user did not have something really interesting to do, they might just slide back to Android. The FSF's Respects Your Freedom hardware certification program is a much better thing for everyone. A careful perso... show more

@Daniel I get that. I use Debian myself on my laptop which has some hardware requiring non-free drivers (although in the end I used official image and added firmware myself). I just mean that newbie won't even look for these. They just open the main page, click "Download Debian" button and probably their installation will fail or they end up with mysteriously disabled devices.

I know it is philosophical choice and I kind of approve it but it is that one thing that makes installing Debian less friendly for newbies in my opinion. Everything else seems just fine, I don't get why people complain about the installer.

The debian installer is not so user friendly like the one provided by other distro, requires a lot of steps, doesn't have a very good partioning wizard, you have to wait until the end to setup the grub... I mean it works but the others are better, however the debian installer works for many cpu architectures so perhaps redesign the installer could be a pain the heck.

it made plenty of sense for trisquel to base from ubuntu at one point-- and the results were spectacular, the best fully-free distro ever.

that was a long time ago. i feel your critique is too broad given the history, though not unfair.

Based on how is organized Ubuntu I will never use it especially for a only free-software distro. Debian is not polished and it will never be, that is up to the DE upstream, I mean if the XFCE team is convinced that release their base setup in a so ugly look is the best for them, fine, eventually I like costomize my DE as I like so I don't really care how a DE is provided at the first boot.

@freemedia +1

@Daniel,

You mentioned the partitionizer. Very true indeed. We had several machine's installed by co workers and there are some issues when installing a new kernel. Needs finetuning. Then again, someone who is going to install it for official business should be aware upfront.

This concept of "friendliness" is unfair because it blames free software for the things done by software owners. Debian's text install was once very informative which is a kind of friendly people should strive for. It patiently explained everything it was doing and had extra help as options. The first time I installed it, I took the time to read the help and thought it was much better than Red Hat. If friendly means, "just works without knowledge," free software will not be friendly until hardware is no longer dominated by people who hate your freedom. Those are the people who break things and they are the reason free software does not just work. When they are gone, people will be able to press the "download Debian" button and the graphical install will just work. All your devices will work, power management will work, and only people people who are very interested will bother to study the details. Until then, anyone who wants real control of their computing, with the privacy and peace of mind freedom brings, those people will have to be hard core technicians or willing to spend lots... show more

"This concept of 'friendliness' is unfair because it blames free software-- "

i mean, its unfair as long as "friendliness" only means "helps you install non-free drivers and firmware and software," absolutely.

Richard Stallman recently conceded the need for such things at install fests because most hardware is pure crap that needs non free software. He suggested having a person who knows how to deal with all of that crap, but that person should be in a booth outside of the event and dressed as a devil. That way people can know they are making a deal with the devil if they they are unwilling to buy some respects your freedom certified hardware. Non free software is not friendly, it's the problem. Software owners always break your toys.

a compromise like that, which says up front "this is not good enough, this is less" is the second best kind.

the best kind of compromise is one thats good enough for both (or all) parties, but we have a way to go in that regard. plus, this acknowledges the reality of the gnu operating system for so many people-- that they are going to run it on hardware not designed for it.

now, what to do about grey gpl compliance? compliance that is not commercial, not in physically distributed devices, but simply distros that may not be distributed with all the sources included? where can i get the source dvd for puppy linux or devuan? they are offering sources, but not to the degree that debian is. if i want to distribute refracta (one of the best distros out there) with its source, ive got a lot of work to do. i actually want the source code, but is there a way to do tiered-compliance that brings remastering forward into some lower (but acknowledged) legitimacy? because these remasters are never going away. do we simply scoff, or give them a lesser classification? it will take a while.

@Daniel perhaps so. I found it pretty straightforward and simple enough for something people typically do once in few years. In my opinion if one can follow installer directions and get basic setup working without having to refer to additional instructions - it is good enough, the rest is just prettifying :)

It's not a compromise, freemedia, it's as close as is possible to come to informed consent. The user really has no easy choice because the software owner has already screwed them. Software owners have used their monopoly rents to blanket the market with crap and the user is then stuck choosing between using non free software, doing without some hardware, or abandoning their booby trapped hardware for something that the community has really liberated. It's hard to call that consent, but the FSF is being honest about the choice that must be made and the consequences of each.

Other problems are secondary to this. The important thing is to make people aware of their rights and support distributions that are doing things right. GNU has built a community of sharing and that community has build all of the necessary software. All that we need now is for people to understand the power software owners have over them so that they want to use software that respects their rights. If we do this, the other problems will eventually go away as Microsoft is failing.

It’s not a compromise, freemedia, it’s as close as is possible to come to informed consent. The user really has no easy choice because the software owner has already screwed them.

i dont agree-- it is undoubtedly a compromise, but (like with debians non-free repos) it is a properly contained compromise. in fact i think the analogy to debians non-free repos is just about perfect. (by nature, analogies are similar, never precisely 1:1. you can always find a difference, because its a comparison of two different things.) the fsf is setting up a non-free repo outside their door, and instead of labeling it "non-free" theyre labeling it "evil."

of course you can use free software-- you have to give up on some built-in wireless adapters, you have to give up on hardware compression of video sometimes. sometimes you have to take hardware to the store for a refund. but the reality is that people are keeping their hardware (thats a choice) and installing binary firmware. im not against the fsf doing this, but saying there is no choice just isnt true. it never was.
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I'm a Debian user and I agree with the Free Software philosophy and not with the Open Source one, but I have to admit that I'm not able to say no to all the proprietary software out there, for example avoid all the non-free JavaScript in all the web pages it's very painful (but necessary if you want a free and decentralized internet), instead change some piece of hardware with another it's very easy and less painful.

I am wondering what happened too all the patents Red Hat acquired to protect the free software. Does anyone know?

The main point is buying hardware that work with free software, but sometimes you have a laptop and you can't buy other pieces. Anyway anything that needs GPU acceleration can't be performed without deal with deal with blob signatures, firmwares or drivers unless someone comes out with a free and open GPU based on whatever open architecture (maybe RISC?).

However all those considerations are quite off topic...

Carrying water for software owners is a compromise. Debian hosting non free software is a waste of resources that should go to making better free software. Allowing someone to set up a tent to install non free software outside of a FSF event, as long as the person dresses up as a devil, is not such a compromise, it's just another way of telling people that non free software gives an evil third party control of your computer. I think that Debian did a better job of shielding users from non free software than Ubuntu did, but they can do better still by dropping it all on the floor.

Debian hosting non free software is a waste of resources that should go to making better free software. Allowing someone to set up a tent to install non free software outside of a FSF event, as long as the person dresses up as a devil, is not such a compromise
#specialpleading #splittinghairs

of course it is a compromise. it is just an acceptable compromise. but it is a compromise. if it werent, then “as long as the person dresses up as a devil” would be irrelevant. the “deal” and the “compromise” are practically the same thing. “if you dress like this and stay out of the room, you can be part of our event whereas you werent before.” you might as well say that as long as you put a big warning on cigarettes, it isnt a compromise to allow them to be sold instead of banned. (im not against the move from the fsf, but its a very silly argument that it isnt a compromise.)