The 100% Libre GNU/Linux

November 16, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Hacking | 7 Comments

someone asked a question on UTUTO forums. Though I did not provide him the answers he intended, I provided him the answers from a user perspective and it came to me that this user-centric answer was more important as there is no distro that fits to the description I have for a 100% Libre distro. you can follow the original thread or just read along and more detailed answer here:

I am just writing this article here because I tried the installation of all 3 100% Free Software based distros: UTUTO, BLAG and gNewSense I did not like any one of their default behaviors and installations. I want to present my views and thinking as a user who wants to use a 100% Free Softwares based GNU/Linux distro. So please bear with me 😉

* It is so sad to see that there are nearly 100s of Linux distros and only 3 of them are 100% Libre: BLAG, UTUTO and gNS. It is pretty easy to see that Linux has nothing to do with Freedom but GNU has everything to do with freedom. ( even Linus Torvalds, publicly endorses the use of Proprietary Softwares. he said, he invented Linux kernel, just for fun.

* All 100% Libre distros install Desktop by default. We have no minimal ISO for Libre distros e.g. like we have for Arch or Frugalware. When I installed gNS or BLAG or UTUTO, it installs GNOME by default and “lsmod” shows 100s of modules are already loaded. In my current Arch x86_64 install, I have only 10-15 modules, and in Gentoo I have only 5. I do not need rest of 95 modules but with all 3 Libre distros I am forced to install them. IOW, all these 3 distro’s installation programs do not let the user have flexibility and control over installation process.

* gNS is based on UBUNTU. If you compare it with Arch/Frugalware/Gentoo/Slackware/CRUX, UBUNTU has a pretty complex built-structure from inside. It does not carry any sign of simplicity inside it. It is based on hiding the command-line from user and so is gNS. Any power user will run away from such distros.

* BLAG is based on Fedora and Fedora has lots of documentation but with gNS and UTUTO, we are running quite poor on Documentation. UBUNTU has lots of documentation but all you see is, GUI help. Most of the time UBUNTU community talks much less about the command-line control.

* Any good distro needs to have an intelligent and simple to use package-manager. There are 3 I have found: apt-get, pacman and emerge. Debian has apt-get but I do not like it because it splits the package into base and devel versions, may be because Debian runs on embedded platforms too. I like Pacman, the impressive and powerful package manager from Judd Vinet. emerge comes with Gentoo, which can not be compared to other distros because Gentoo is different enough and it is definitely not for a seasonal user and still we can learn from its design and those distinctions can be put in to use in other. distros

* You can call it a personal-biased opinion of mine but I think any good distro needs to be simple, logical and flexible and that directly mean no Administration Menu in GNOME. This is my experience that sooner or later any OS user has to lean what all those GUI system configurations hide from him. I am not against the GUIs. I use wmii, a GUI, the X Window System, I am talking about managing system-settings using GUIs, that is plain stupidness. Why you don’t want to know what that click on OK will do to your system. Why don’t you know that runs a command in the background and changes some words in system-conf files. Why not now those words ? Why your /etc/profile need to have functions like pathmunge (Fedora) or Why ~/.bashrc needs to have 100s of lines as default for the user (UBUNTU). I think these links best explain what I am talking about


It is so nice to see that some people are really trying hard to build complete Libre kits 🙂 but my criticism is based purely on technical points. I think a Libre distro without providing choice, power and control to the users is useless.

Copyright © 2007, Arnuld
Uttre, #331/type-2/sector-1, Naya Nangal, Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA) – 140126

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.



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    BLAG is one of a handull of 100% libre OSes out there.

  2. >
    > BLAG is one of a handull of 100% libre OSes out
    > there.

    yes, I did mention BLAG in my post.

  3. Hi,
    I was very happy to see you hold arch in such high regard. I use arch too and now I cannot bear to boot into PCLinuxOS and cannot stand the sight of Ubuntu any more. What is more, the next time I teach my Mom about using the computer (I run Ubuntu on her machine), I am going to get her to launch firefox from the command line. I bet she’ll understand that much better than go here, click there, etc.
    Window’s greatest victory is that they have sold to the world that the GUI is the “easiest” way to do things. Users like my Mom and Dad are never going to do any system configuration anyway. For those that want to tweak their systems the CLI is really no obstacle. Ever since I found Linux, yes it is true that I have problems sometimes but when I use Windows I find that I also have problems. The problems are different but they are there regardless. Inertia…..that is what makes windows succesful.
    I found your comment regarding a new form of government interesting. Would like to email you as regards this but couldn’t find your email address….

  4. Responding to “Patang”:

    thanks. I have updated my “About Myself” Page to include my email address. I was so stupid that I totally forgot to put it there. If you can not wait to click then it is here:

    arnuld {at} ippimail {dot} com


  5. BLAG install desktop by default, but there is nothing to stop one doing a custom install, and installing only base.

  6. > BLAG install desktop by default, but there is
    > nothing to stop one doing a custom install, and
    > installing only base.

    yes, and how will you know that you need base if you are a newbie ?

    Ask yourself, how many UBUNTU users know about or know how to edit the “~/.Xdefaults” I am quite sure that 90% of the UBUNTU users use generic frequencies of their monitor rather than making the full use of it.

    Arch will not install Desktop by default. It does not care whether you are a newbie or expert. You have configure your system using text files. You need to learn “Xorg -configure” and “pacman”, there is no GUI front end. Ask how many UBUNTU users know about “framebuffer” It reminds of a saying I read on some mailing-list or forum:

    Any idiot with 2 hands should not use Linux and by the same analogy he should not learn to drive a car either.

    UBUNTU made it possible for those idiots to use Linux.

  7. If you are interested on a 100% free software distribution with the power of the «Arch way» there’s Parabola GNU/Linux

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