Totally free and based on Hardy 8.04 LTS.  Enough to make you change your lifestyle?
Totally free and based on Hardy 8.04 LTS. Enough to make you change your lifestyle?

So I have the opportunity to take a look at another Ubuntu derived distro.  There seems to be many in the DistroWatch spotlight, what with MoonOS, Trisquel, Mint 7 (Xfce) to name a few.

gNewSense 2.3 is derived from Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04) and has a comprehensive list of software pre-installed for your enjoyment.

I chose GnewSense as it proudly contains 100% free software.   I  apologize for this review being shorter than usual, but with any distro based on Ubuntu you can guarantee (almost) a “minimum standards” of performance, which in turn does not help to find things new to review!


As with Ubuntu 8.04 LiveCD installation is effortless with Ubuntu “holding your hand” or allowing you to be creative with your install.  Hardware was detected immediately and as always with an Ubuntu derived distro I had no issues to report about.

gNewsense 2.3 comes bundled with: Gnote, GIMP 2.4.5, OpenOffice 2.4, Transmission 1.06, Totem 2.22.1 and a host of those play once games that you usually get as default with an Ubuntu distro.  It was nice to see no real duplication here (which some Ubuntu derivatives are guilt of…..looking at #!CBL) so that is a plus.

There is really not much more to say in respect of whats bundled, if you’ve used 8.04Heron then you will know what to expect, accept gNewsense has been stripped of any none free software.


gNewsense’s strongest point is that when you install it you are running completely free software.  It was very nice to see that Mono and subsequently f-spot, tomboy et al are absent from this distro.  It was also nice to have the distro based off a LTS and you can almost guarantee its damn stable.  That is also its drawback, its based on an Ubuntu that is over 1 year old and subsequently the packages its bundled with are also old.  Transmission is currently in version 1.75 whereas gNewsense is offering 1.05 which is over a year old.  This is typical of all the packages included with gNewsense and infact Totem which 2.22.1 comes as default I believe is closer to 2 years old if not older.

I am left wondering why someone would choose to install this.  Supporters of free software with Linux experience can easily strip away the non free and bloat if they wish, whilst new users to Linux will IMO be wanting to go for the all singing all dancing “out of the box” proprietary included distro’s…to me a total non-free existence is too big a step for the new user coming straight from Windows.

For the average user I don’t believe they care if the software is open or closed source and that the first priority is out of the box compat.

I made a similar distro of my own (it only has been deployed on one machine in my home!)  which effectively stripped away everything that GS does, it also included far more up to date installs of the latest software and is currently very happy supporting the latest build of Chromium.

I really hope that I am not missing something from GS and if there is a compelling reason to use it, please let me know.  As I see it at present its not the distro I would recommend to a new user and its certainly not offering anything the experienced Linux user can’t do themselves…..please correct me if I’m wrong.

Goblin –