Trisquel 5.5 STS Brigantia release announcement

Trisquel 5.5 STS "Brigantia" is finally here! This release took us some extra time but it was well worth it, as even if we went through a lot of changes in core components we achieved many improvements while preparing the system for the forthcoming long term support release. As a sort of compensation (many thanks for your patience!), and due to the importance of our next release, we will start hacking on it sooner than usual, in about a month.

This release took our biggest effort in this eight years, and we want to thank all the community, members, donors and specially to everyone who contributed to the development.

Many new technologies, same user experience

This release is our first to be based on GNOME 3, GTK 3 and also Linux-libre 3.0.0. GNOME 3 was a big challenge, because as it is designed by now, it is not usable for our community. The new default interface of GNOME 3 is GNOME Shell, a program that requires 3D acceleration to work, as it relies on graphics composition. Sadly, many graphics cards today still lack a libre driver providing acceleration, so many users who would choose free drivers will be redirected to a fallback desktop environment. We think that this way many users could feel compelled to install non-free drivers to be able to use the new desktop, so we decided to use the fallback environment as default, and improve it when possible. Luckily this fallback is a GTK 3 implementation of GNOME panel 2x, and not only is it very usable, and even more stable than the original, but it is also accessible, something GNOME Shell is currently lacking.

One other advantage of using the fallback as default is that we were able to use it to provide the same desktop layout that many Trisquel users have become attached to. You can of course adapt and customize it with panels and applets as usual.

This release features, among many others:

  • Linux-libre 3.0.0
  • GNOME 3.2
  • Abrowser 11
  • LibreOffice 3.4.4

Better accessibility, a better project

Continuing with our commitment to accessibility we have managed to improve the integration with the Orca screen reader and other universal access software. It was not easy, as it was affected by the changes in core libraries underneath, but the results were worth it. If you use the i18n DVD the screen reader will be started by default, allowing visually impaired users to install it by themselves, and the login manager in the installed system will then be accessible. It is still far from perfect, but we will keep working on it.

Another improvement is that many NVIDIA graphic cards are now supported with 3D acceleration using the free Nouveau driver, which was moved from experimental into the preinstalled set of packages. Also, we can announce now that those packages, and all the +300GB of sources and binaries in our archive servers are now accessible through new official mirrors in the Netherlands and India, thanks to Jason Self and the KMEA Engineering college respectively. Many thanks!