FSFE Potteries / Meeting on 5/7/2022: Free GNU/Linux distros

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This page has some brief notes and imagery surrounding a past meeting, you likely got here by clicking a link shown on a past calendar event.

In this meeting we went on the hunt for a purely Free Software GNU/Linux distribution! Mostly because we were FINALLY in a real room where we could properly meet... and because that room is filled with computers that we wanted to network boot a properly Free Software distribution on.

Given a lot of the people were familiar with Debian-based and Arch-based desktops, we decided to focus most of our time on them. In the Debian-based camp we found distros like PureOS and Trisquel GNU/Linux. Then in the Arch-based camp we found distros like Hyperbola and Parabola GNU/Linux-libre.

We had a couple of laptops laying about which we could test installing them on and found them to be not much different really to a non-free OS such as Debian or Ubuntu. Some of them even use the Linux-libre modified fork of the Linux kernel, which is meant to contain no binary blobs, obfuscated code, or code released under a proprietary license.

Other distros (namely those listed by FSF here) were looked at too, at least their web sites were. They all seem to be angling at a specific user base, just like any normal Linux distribution would - but some of them are just incidentally also completely made of Free Software (which isn't a particularly hard thing to do).

It was noted that Debian itself was sponsored by FSF and was considered to a Free Software distro... until at some point binary blobs entered the kernel and then they had a nonfree repository added. It was a contentious subject as those nonfree binary blobs in the kernel would seem to not be an issue any more (as they're not there in later versions... unless you go for a nonfree ISO on purpose) and the nonfree repository isn't actually used by default (or even configured in a way for easy removal of comments). So it could be argued that FSF are being picky for little reason now... but it's not impossible that Debian may once again decide it is just easier to include the firmware blobs in the main ISOs.

Ultimately it was decided we'd give Trisquel GNU/Linux a proper go on all the machines, as it seemed like it would be the least headache to be compatible with LTSP for network booting. That didn't go massively well as the graphics drivers don't work unless you use VESA mode!

That's it for now, hopefully another meeting soon!

LocalGroups/Potteries/Calendar/2022-07-05 (last edited 2024-02-14 16:32:33 by Lantizia)