Thursday, November 2, 2006
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has announced today the release of the first version of gNewSense, a new GNU/Linux distribution based on both Ubuntu and Debian. The goal of the newly created distribution is to offer an operating system which is 100% proprietary software free.
Generally, GNU/Linux distributions comes with proprietary software such as kernel drivers (eg. NVIDIA and ATI card drivers), the Opera web browser or the VoIP Skype software among others. According to its developers: “From a philosophical perspective we wanted to create a GNU/Linux distribution where the user has access to all the sources for all software on the system. This includes everything from the heart of the kernel through to the everyday desktop applications.”
Ted Teah, FSF’s free software directory maintainer explained, “With all the kernel firmware and restricted repositories removed, and the reliance on Ubuntu’s proprietary distribution management tool gone, this distribution is the most advanced GNU/Linux distribution that has a commitment to be 100% free.”
gNewSense will provide users with full security updates and is available for immediate download in LiveCD ISO format along with a version of the Ubiquity graphical installer. The developers have also created a set of tools called Builder that allows users to create their own gNewSense-based distributions.
In the new 1.0 version, gNewSense has removed all non-free firmware from the kernel, removed access to the Ubuntu Restricted component (such as links to LaunchPad which are redirected to the gNewSense webpage for now) and replaced the Ubuntu logos with its own. Also the UniVerse component is enabled by default and Emacs, BSD games, NetHack, and build-essential part of the default install.
There already exists such a distribution called Ututo which aims for zero proprietary software but it never really took off in popularity. A few years ago, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu distribution, also initiated a similar initiative dubbed Gnubuntu but it never materialized.