How is Trisquel different?

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Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

Ok so I know this is going to invite a flame... but kindly take it in the spirit of inquiry and set a noobie straight!

If Trisquel is based on Ubuntu and Debian, removing all nonfree stuff, how is this different to simply using the free core Debian (which AFAIK from 6.0 is completely free unless you enable nonfree repos). Isn't it essentially just having someone else do the task of removing nonfree material and adding free drivers where needed?

I'm sure this is naive... the 'derivative' process of Linux development is a touch confusing at times...

akirashinigami

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Iscritto: 02/25/2010

Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, which is updated much more frequently than Debian, so the most recent Trisquel release is more up to date than the most recent Debian release.

Also, the operating system as a whole is called GNU/Linux, not just Linux. Linux is only the kernel.

Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

Perhaps I should write 100 times...
GNU/Linux
GNU/Linux
GNU/Linux

Isn't Ubuntu based on Debian though? So how does that work?

And aside from freshness, ethically, in terms of Free Software, how is it different?

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Debian prepares a stable version within two years approximatively (no official schedule: it is released when it is ready). During this period, Ubuntu releases four versions. Their packages are picked from the future Debian version (not the stable one) that is consistently evolving. There is then quite some work to stabilize the packages as you can see by glancing through the list of the software in the Synaptic package manager: many fundamental package versions end with "ubuntu[0-9.]".

In terms of free software, there are some (little) differences:

  • The Debian Free Software Guidelines consider the Artistic 1.0 license as free, whereas the FSF does not (a few Perl packages use this license);
  • The Debian Free Software Guidelines consider the GNU Free Document license as nonfree, whereas the FSF obviously considers it free (most of the GNU documentation is distributed under that license);
  • Debian somehow proposes to enable the nonfree repository; on this page of the main site for instance: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages ;
  • The contrib repository contains only free software but some of it only aims at loading proprietary software;
  • The installer recommends, in some situations, some proprietary microcode.
Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

Thanks Magic, that answers my question well.

Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

so another question, slightly at a tangent, why doesn't Debian use the work done by Ubuntu and Trisquel to get their stable out faster? Isn't it all supposed to feed back? And surely the packages all have the same dependencies and so forth?

(Sorry, I'm sure this is an incredibly stupid question but even after quite a bit of time with various distros I still don't 'get' how it all works!)

akirashinigami

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Iscritto: 02/25/2010

I don't know. You'd probably have better luck getting an answer by asking the folks at Debian.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

They do use Ubuntu's work!

moilami
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Iscritto: 09/17/2012

You are for some reason saying they would not. I say the opposite.

Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

but they are still so far behind?

moilami
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Iscritto: 09/17/2012

Define behind and define stable release.

They have different developing models.

Ubuntu takes a snapshot of Debian unstable and fix a few things, add some experimental features, and releases it as "stable ubuntu".

The only thing what makes it "stable" is that packages on it get very few version updates as opposite to DEbian unstable, which is as the name very well says unstable because a lot of software get constantly updated.

However, Debian stable has been tested more than Ubuntu. So it can be argued Debian to be more stable while Ubuntu is just feature freezed Debian testing.

This can be hard to understand for a beginner and even harder for Ubuntu fans to accept.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Ubuntu's work is reintegrated in the *unstable* version of Debian, which is far more up to date than Ubuntu.

A reason for the stable version to take time to be released (including a long period of "freeze" where no new major version is integrated) is a high stability standard (Debian being mainly used in servers, whereas Ubuntu is mainly used in desktop machines). moilami explained it well.

Another reason for this longer testing period is the far broader scope of Debian. This project aims to provide an OS for something like 10 different architectures (vs. 3 for Ubuntu) and with different kernels (Linux, BSD and Hurd).

Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

I'm still a bit confused. Is it just that their standards of stability are so much higher? Trisquel isn't as stable as it looks? Or maybe I understand the word 'stable' the wrong way.

Because Trisquel has a much more up-to-date kernel than Debian Stable. I was going to try unstable, but it noticed a comment on their forum that one really ought to only use stable.

I interpret 'stable' to mean that things won't break, basically, not that they won't change or be updated.

moilami
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Iscritto: 09/17/2012

You understood exactly correctly. Well done!

The point was, as you very well understood, that they have very different standards on what is stable.

The development models are different in a way that Debian values very high stability and Ubuntu values new versions of software. Because of that it can't be said that Debian would be behind Ubuntu. One values stability and security and other one new software. They are different beasts.

Trisquel is very stable, hmm, after the default desktop issues has been solved.

If you try Debian, you should not try Unstable debian. It is very unstable, and you definetly better use stable Debian. But what you can use is Debian Testing a'la Wheezy. It is the next stable Debian, and it is already damn stable.

Your interperation of stable is basicly correct. Usually in stable releases things don't change except some "critical" software can be updated.

In the end I will have to recommend you Trisquel though, since it seems you are not a veteran GNU/Linux human. Trisquel GNU/Linux can be said to be taking better care of your freedom than Debian :)

Tullia
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Iscritto: 11/13/2012

Than you for your patient replies, moilami. Your explanation makes it much clearer.

I'm mostly very happy with Trisquel, but just a few little things are still problems, especially with the nonfree hardware that I am currently lumbered with.

I started playing with Mandrake years ago, just a little bit, then Debian, and Simply Mepis and EasyPeasy on my mini netbook, and have been using openSUSE for quite a while. While I know a little bit about some aspects of GNU/Linux, the development processes from Kernel and 'Upstream' and Distribution are still quite confusing. I shall have to do some reading about that.

It's only very recently that I've been thinking more deeply about the freedom issues.

I'm a little bit concerned about the idea of Trisquel being derivative of Ubuntu, (you'll know all the arguments against Ubuntu already) even though it removes any problems, it's still relying on a very unfree distribution as its 'mother' in a sense. Does that make sense? Ubuntu doesn't even use the word 'Linux' on its website, let alone GNU! But on the other hand it's putting what they do to good use, I guess!

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

I do not know if you have specific concerns in mind but, to me (and to the FSF!), Trisquel properly gets rid of all freedom issues.

moilami
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Iscritto: 09/17/2012

You should not worry about kernel unless you know you need to upgrade it. If you don't know do you need to upgrade it or not, then you can just ignore everything related to kernel.

How do you know do you need to upgrade kernel?

If your hardware works well, then there is no need to upgrade the kernel, except by normal security updates what your distribution is doing on your behalf.

Upstream is what Trisquel and Ubuntu say. They use that word to say that the bug would not be because of them, but because of "upstream", that is the mother of the distribution. I liked the word you used :)

For Ubuntu "upstream" means Debian, and for Trisquel Upstream means Ubuntu.

An example.

Jane the Doe: I found a bug in Ubuntu/Trisquel!
Trisquel/Ubuntu: Oh really? It is upstream bug.

That is hilarious! It is like saying that do not expect that we would do anything to it because it is actually a bug on our mother. Blame her and ask her to fix it.

* * *

Regarding Ubuntu as a base for Libre Distro: There is no problem with it, except if we are critical it would be better to not do advertisement to non-free distro /1/ and teach people to use non-free distro instead of free distro.

Hmm. Damn! You ask too good questions. Thinking them makes me question am I doing the right thing. Good good.

/1/ In the form of chosing non-free distro to be the base, hereby implying that non-free would be better than free distro, and more, to "pop" non-free distro instead of free distro.

wolftune
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Iscritto: 12/23/2012

I think the concern about Ubuntu as 'mother' is: what would happen if Trisquel achieved its wildest dreams and became 10 times more popular than Ubuntu and Ubuntu stopped getting any use? Is Trisquel reliant on Ubuntu's success?

My own sense, though, is that this is a non-issue. Because the software is Free, whoever it is that does any work that makes Ubuntu what it is could keep doing it even if it just went directly into Trisquel. The only concern is whether they still would do it. In other words, if funding and other things (or even the existence of non-free elements of the system) are necessary factors that Ubuntu supplies which Trisquel could not manage on its own, then that is a concern, right?