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GGL distribution selection: adding a fully-free distro

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ariadacapo's picture
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Thanks to Gustavo and his great initiative in LibreMeeting, we had a series of recommendations from Richard Stallman. An important one is to recommend only fully-free distributions.

This is quite a sensitive theme so I must remind you of the previous discussions we've had about this, the goals of the GGL project, and the points expressed in the GLM bylaws.
I start a new thread with this theme because other threads are becoming very long. So far the following opinions were expressed:

Gustavo wrote:

Promoting only fully-free-distros is something I wouldn't like to do. I told [RMS] that I see no problem on promoting non-fully-free distros as an step forward, not as the goal itself - taking advance of a privative software to reach for a huge objective for the FS movement is something they did when they were using UNIX to make GNU. He seemed to partially agree with me and said that it might end that way, or might not; there's no guarantee we'll win that way.
My conclusion? I think we should add a fully free distro (like gnewsense) and clearly state that the rest of the promoted distros are not fully free in the mean time because they contain some software critical to run well with many pieces of hardware, thus, all of your current hardware might not work with the fully free distro (however, you might prefer to replace a piece of hardware rather than giving away your freedom... If for some reason you cannot replace the piece of hardware that doesn't work, then you should really install one of the non-fully-free distros).

I understood that a_thing agreed with him;

libervisco wrote:

I agree with all of the RMSs suggestion, but I also agree that you don't necessarily have to make each happen 100%. I am ok with GGL talking about non-fully-free distros as a step up and something like gNewSense as a real goal (freedom, and hopefully with all hardware working with it Smiling ).

guyjohnston wrote:

I agree that promoting a fully-free distro (preferably gNewSense) would be a good idea. I use gNewSense, and I find that it's barely any harder to use than Ubuntu. I think it's still a good idea for this site to promote the almost-free distributions, but I think it should definitely be mentioned that they're not completely free, so people aren't mislead. I was going to add that as a separate discussion before I read this.

My opinion is similar, I think recommending gNewSense is definitely the way to go.
However, the problem is that this will leave us with 4 distributions. This is really of concern to me; my experience is that too much choice turns people off.
I'd be reluctant to let go of Ubuntu, which I see as the friendliest distro around. It's important that Fedora is here, since gives some balance (not same vendor, increasing commitment to free software). I suggest to suppress the recommendation of Kubuntu, so that we would have:
- Ubuntu: "easy choice"
- Fedora: "advanced choice"
- gNewSense: "fully-free software choice"

I know that this would make us focus on GNOME mainly. But IMO this is a good compromise for making the visitor's decision easier.

This would be the opportunity to insist more the importance of fully-free software (see Stallman's recommendation 14 in Gustavo's post). We should also give more details about more-or-less free distributions, for example in the FAQ entry on the freedom of GNU/Linux.

What do you think?

Bjwebb's picture
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Hmm, new users may find KDE

Hmm, new users may find KDE easier. Maybe mention that another "type" of Ubuntu is availible with different Graphics.

guyjohnston's picture
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Good choice

I think those three distributions would be a good choice. I think it's important to recommend a fully-free distribution, or at the very least to point out that the others aren't fully free. It might be a good idea to recommend Ubuntu and/or Fedora as the easiest option for someone switching from Windows, but to say that gNewSense (or another fully-free distribution) should be the eventual goal if you want to free yourself from proprietary software. It is a bit of a shame they're all GNOME-based, but as suggested by Bjwebb, it'd probably be a good idea to just mention a different "type" or "skin" for Ubuntu, rather than treating Kubuntu as a separate distribution. While gNewSense also has a KDE variant (I don't know what the distinction is for Fedora), mentioning it as well would probably add too much confusion, and Kubuntu is easier to find information about, particularly as it has its own website.

Personally, I'm pretty neutral when it comes to GNOME and KDE. I used to use KDE with Kubuntu, but now I use GNOME with gNewSense, and I think they're about as good as each other, though I possibly slightly prefer GNOME now. I think if either is given a particular preference on this site, it should be GNOME, as it's part of the GNU project, so it has a very strong commitment to software freedom. KDE is officially referred to as "free software" on its website rather than "open source", but software freedom wasn't included in the reasons for starting it (see http://groups.google.com/group/de.comp.os.linux.misc/msg/cb4b2d67ffc3ffce), and the choice of using the proprietary Qt to develop it also demonstrates that software freedom isn't (or at least wasn't) a high priority for the project. That also means that there's less of a guarantee that they won't do something in the future that'll be bad for the free software community, or even stop releasing future versions as free software.

Gustavo's picture
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I fully agree with Bjwebb.

I fully agree with Bjwebb. Kubuntu might be merged into Ubuntu.

KDE is pretty important; we should also add that KDE is much more customisable than GNOME (many people, like me, care about this... I like to work in a graphical environment I feel absolutely comfortable with, either out-of-the-box or after customising it by hand).

On the other hand, I think we should add something like this:

Quote:

These GNU/Linux distributions are not fully free because companies like ATI and Broadcom do not care about their clients' Freedom and supply no (or a few) free drivers/firmware for the devices they manufacture. The Free Software community has been willing to develop free drivers and firmware in exchange for the specification of those devices, but many companies do not accept this either; at most, some hardware vendors allow some free driver developers to understand how their devices work under a Non-Disclosure Agreement, which means that the final work is non-free anyways. Thus, vendors of the major GNU/Linux distributions include non-free software in order to enable the users to keep their hardware.

We, however, believe we are better off replacing the hardware unsupported with free software rather than giving away our Freedom. This is why we encourage you to use a fully free distribution or install a non-fully-free one removing the restrictive components afterwards. If you are unable to replace a given hardware unsupported with free software only, then installing a non-fully-free distribution is the way to go for you.

Cheers.

Gustavo's picture
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That's the past:
a thing's picture
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Fedora and KDE

Starting Fedora 7 (scheduled for the end of this month), Fedora will release spins similar to Ubuntu for GNOME, KDE, and others (server and minimal I think).

guyjohnston's picture
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I know Qt is free software now

I know that Qt is free software now, and KDE can now be used and developed without using non-free software. My point is that the fact the KDE developers chose to use Qt when it was proprietary shows that software freedom isn't (or wasn't) a big priority for them. On the page at http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/qt.php, under the heading "I don't understand the Qt issue. Please explain" they actually stated that they preferred not having the freedom to distribute modified versions of Qt. That page also shows that they don't (or didn't) fully understand the GPL, as they say "the GPL license does not permit you to sell applications derived from sources published under the GPL if you do not wish to make the source code available for free". That's not true at all. You can sell copies of the source code for whatever price you want. You only have to give out copies of it at no extra charge to people who are buying binary copies, and you can charge whatever you want for them.

a thing's picture
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in the past

That was nine long years ago now.

libervisco's picture
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I'll chip in here.. I think

I'll chip in here.. I think the current idea, merging Kubuntu into the Ubuntu section as an alternative graphical interface is a good idea. So we then have Ubuntu, Fedora (7) and gNewSense. I think that's quite a good selection.

Personally, I only wished if gNewSense had a more appealing name (and I tried to persuade devs to change it before), but what's done is done. It's just a name.

Cheers

ariadacapo's picture
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Bjwebb wrote: Maybe
Bjwebb wrote:

Maybe mention that another "type" of Ubuntu is availible with different Graphics.

Yes, that sounds like the best compromise.

Gustavo wrote:

I think we should add something like this:

Quote:

These GNU/Linux distributions are not fully free because companies like ATI and Broadcom do not care about their clients' Freedom and supply no (or a few) free drivers/firmware for the devices they manufacture. The Free Software community has been willing to develop free drivers and firmware in exchange for the specification of those devices, but many companies do not accept this either; at most, some hardware vendors allow some free driver developers to understand how their devices work under a Non-Disclosure Agreement, which means that the final work is non-free anyways. Thus, vendors of the major GNU/Linux distributions include non-free software in order to enable the users to keep their hardware.

We, however, believe we are better off replacing the hardware unsupported with free software rather than giving away our Freedom. This is why we encourage you to use a fully free distribution or install a non-fully-free one removing the restrictive components afterwards. If you are unable to replace a given hardware unsupported with free software only, then installing a non-fully-free distribution is the way to go for you.

There won't be space on the page for so much text, but it'll fit perfectly in the FAQ post that needs updating.

a thing wrote:

Starting Fedora 7 (scheduled for the end of this month), Fedora will release spins similar to Ubuntu for GNOME, KDE, and others (server and minimal I think).

Are "spins" live-CDs? If so, great, I'll add the links as soon as they're up. I'm also not forgetting Fedora Core will just be "Fedora".

libervisco wrote:

Personally, I only wished if gNewSense had a more appealing name (and I tried to persuade devs to change it before), but what's done is done.

Same thoughts here... and the graphics aren't particularly exceptional either. But I'll be glad to put the link up.

I'll try to have a draft up in 2 days, that should suit everyone.

Gustavo's picture
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It's like using tux in the XXI century
ariadacapo wrote:
libervisco wrote:

Personally, I only wished if gNewSense had a more appealing name (and I tried to persuade devs to change it before), but what's done is done.

Same thoughts here... and the graphics aren't particularly exceptional either. But I'll be glad to put the link up.

Yes, unfortunately it's like using tux to represent Linux in the XXI century.

Gustavo's picture
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Perhaps we should take

Perhaps we should take gNewSense as our temporary recommendation until the next Ubuntu is released: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuWithoutRestricted

libervisco's picture
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I think that might be a

I think that might be a good idea, as long as Gnubuntu (which I suppose this Ubuntu without restricted is called) really doesn't have anything non-free in it by default and is most similar to gNewSense.

Actually, it should be exactly like gNewSense, but only officially up to date with the latest Ubuntu version. This is also really the biggest reason why I currently use Ubuntu instead of gNewSense, because gNewSense is too old for me, but I have the restricted modules removed.

a thing's picture
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typo
NGLayout wrote:

XML Parsing Error: mismatched tag. Expected: .
Location: http://www.getgnulinux.org/about/faq/#tux
Line Number 48, Column 169:

I think the <sem> is meant to be <em>.

a thing's picture
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spins
adriadacapo wrote:

Are "spins" live-CDs? If so, great, I'll add the links as soon as they're up. I'm also not forgetting Fedora Core will just be "Fedora".

I don't think so; just installers.

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I've asked in #fedora IRC

I've asked in #fedora IRC channel on freenode and someone said that Fedora 7 will have a Live ISO of around 800MB (so it's basically a DVD, but not too much to download).

Gustavo's picture
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Thank you so much, a thing!

Thank you so much, a thing! It's now fixed.

ariadacapo's picture
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It's up

I updated the site to recommend gNewSense. Kubuntu is now mostly gone except for a brief mention.

Overview of changes:

  • Choose a distribution page updated.
    This needs your proof-reading, for I had trouble formulating the gNewsense part correctly.
  • Try or Install page changed (only at bottom).
    The link is towards the gNewSense homepage, since their download page is pretty horrible (I tried to tell them in the forum, maybe they can improve it).
  • Screenshots page updated with some gNewSense screenshots I took this afternoon.

I had lots of trouble with the visual identity of gNewSense, couldn't find a logo that I could 1. edit to fit in GGL and 2. find attractive. I finally found Dave Crossland's own gNewSense artwork, which he licensed under CC BY-SA. I got in touch and he let me use his original source files. You know what - I just love this community spirit in free software. I'm surprised by this cooperation spirit all the time, it is so different from our physical life world!

Finally and quite importantly, I re-worked the FAQ section on freedom in GNU/Linux. There are now two questions:
Why are some Linux distributions sold, not given away?, and just below,
Why are some Linux distributions not fully free?

So please let me know what you think about the whole change.

Olivier.

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Looks good

Those pages look good. If you want some more appealing artwork for gNewSense, you might like the stuff at http://romelsand.wordpress.com/2007/04/07/gnewsense-artwork-proposal/, particularly the new logo, but Dave Crossland's stuff is good as well. I've noticed that "developers" has been spelt as "developpers" on the "Choose a distribution" page. I've also noticed that the screenshots for gNewSense show the old logo for BurningDog, which is just a letter 'B'. People probably won't notice that unless they look carefully, but it might be a good idea to replace them with ones showing the new logo, which looks quite a lot better. I also think the claim that the graphics in KDE are "slightly more advanced" than those in GNOME is debatable, so it's probably best just to say that they're different.

michuk's picture
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IMHO there should be 3

IMHO there should be 3 distros promoted:
- one with strong GNOME support
- one with strong KDE support
- a fully free distro

Which ones they are? Perhaps we should just take the best ones from the top of Distrowatch? Ubuntu for GNOME, PCLinuxOS for KDE and gNewSense (or BLAG?) for the "free one". If we take BLAG we could mention that it's based on Fedora which is a nice option as well.

These were my 3 cents.

libervisco's picture
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I have to say from what I

I have to say from what I read and saw lately PCLinuxOS is not a bad proposition. Also, although I am not yet entirely sure, I think they don't even put proprietary software in by default anymore.

a thing's picture
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nope

PCLinuxOS 2007
[CD] $5.99

Featuring kernel 2.6.18.8, KDE 3.5.6, Open Office 2.2.0, Firefox 2.0.0.3, Thunderbird 2.0, Frostwire, Ktorrent, Amarok, Flash, Java JRE, Beryl 3D and much much more.

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non-free issue
a thing wrote:

PCLinuxOS 2007
[CD] $5.99

Featuring kernel 2.6.18.8, KDE 3.5.6, Open Office 2.2.0, Firefox 2.0.0.3, Thunderbird 2.0, Frostwire, Ktorrent, Amarok, Flash, Java JRE, Beryl 3D and much much more.

Do we have a problem recommending a distro that comes with Flash? I mean... if we also recommend gNewSense/BLAG and clearly specify why it is so, I don't see a reason not to go for PCLinuxOS (or another popular and reliable choice) even if it comes with some non-free software by default. Just my opinion.

a thing's picture
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not my point

That wasn't what I was saying. I was just correcting libervisco.

Gustavo's picture
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Hi! I think "Ubuntu also

Hi!

I think "Ubuntu also has a sister distribution, Kubuntu, with a different layout and slightly more advanced graphics" should be replace by "Ubuntu also has a sister distribution, Kubuntu, which is much more customizable". I dislike "more advanced graphics" because it might be understood as "it isn't as easy as Ubuntu".

On the other hand, I think we should replace one of the Ubuntu screenshots by one of Kubuntu, to be fair (the screenshots page has no screenshot of KDE).

The rest is alright for me.

Cheers!

Gustavo's picture
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PCLinuxOS sounds

PCLinuxOS sounds interesting, but:

- It ships with Flash and its makers believe in "open source".
- It doesn't support 64-bit.
- It's only available in English.

Out of all the distributions with KDE supported out-of-the-box, I'd only recommend Kubuntu Feisty and Fedora 7.

Cheers!

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Yes, I later asked on IRC

Yes, I later asked on IRC too and they said it comes with flash and java. They have some more of the proprietary stuff in repos too. I think they had more of it by default before though so it seems they're vaguely moving in the right direction...

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Gustavo wrote: - It
Gustavo wrote:

- It doesn't support 64-bit.

Just to be precise, it doesn't have a full 64bit version, but it has a 64bit kernel which is automatically installed on 64bit systems so I would say it does support 64bit, but only partially. I guess they're balancing between some issues often associated with 64bit systems and the supposed performance gains. 64bit kernel helps, I suppose, since it is a core of the system.

ariadacapo's picture
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We must keep things in

We must keep things in context here. Our goal is not to showcase all that GNU/Linux can do (or all the looks it can have) - it is to guide the beginner to using GNU/Linux.
We are not asking ourselves the right question by comparing KDE to Gnome. 90% of users will want to choose their distribution according to how advanced it is: how much they need to do with it, how complicated it needs to be.
I made up the 90% figure, but certainly presenting my mum with two equivalent, but different products is not relevant - then she has to compare and decide for herself. The criteria "easy, medium, hard" apply nicely to anyone. That's why I've always put KDE slightly "above" Gnome and insisted on how "hard" or "easy" distros are.
Have a look at any product range from one company (mobile phone, camera, etc), you never have two equivalent but different products. Price usually indicates that pretty well, but since our products are zero price we must make it even clearer.

We want people to have an easy choice and pick something that fits. If a user is dis-satisfied with the looks of Gnome, then he/she is probably already advanced enough to look for something different.
I'm really not a Gnome fan - I would write the same thing should Ubuntu and Fedora display KDE by default. It's simply a matter of trading our "GNU/Linux people" hats for some "Market-minded" ones.

hope this is not too unclear - it's quite hard to explain

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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I think I get what you

I think I get what you mean. GetGNULinux.org doesn't need to pursue "fair" representation of various software camps within the Free Software world. It simply plays a role of attracting people to give it a go in the first place. Sooner or later they will find out that they can have a different desktop environment and possibly even learn how to switch to it. GGL can merely point out that there are other options, but it doesn't have to recommend them.

Besides, I think GNOME does a very good job at providing an easy to use interface. This is not to say that KDE doesn't. They both have their own approaches to the matter. It just means that choosing a distro with GNOME is not a wrong choice even if choosing KDE distro wouldn't be. Neither are and it just happens that distros which we are more inclined to recommend use GNOME.

Now I might have expanded on what I think your point was. Smiling

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Libervisco has also

Libervisco has also described what I think... So now I agree too.

Cheers!

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