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Re: [gNewSense-users] The difference between Debian and gNewSense?

From: Karl Goetz
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] The difference between Debian and gNewSense?
Date: Sat, 04 Nov 2006 01:18:57 +1030
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060922)

Dave Crossland wrote:

I was recently advocating Free Software in my local Freecycle [0]
forum and was asked,

So what are the versions that are 100% free then?

This is what I wrote:

-- 8< --

The Debian GNU/Linux system is 100% free, and has a "social contract"
that is a formal commitment to this:
Its not actually - it has binary firmware in the kernel. In violation of the DFSG. (and some questionable licences in main)

However, The Debian project shares non-free software that can be used
in the Debian system, but that software is not part of the official
system and is not essential.

Ubuntu is based on Debian, and includes the latest versions of popular
Free Software, and some non-free software that makes more computer
hardware work. Ubuntu feel its better to have more computers work,
even though those computers will not run 100% Free Software.
But the GNU Project itself cannot recommend such versions. They
maintain a list at

and actually a significant event happened yesterday!

A new version, based on Ubuntu, that is 100% Free Software, has been released:

-- 8< --

While writing this, I wondered if there a difference between Debian
and gNewSense?
Yes, gNS is much smaller ;)
And has no non-free firmware in the kernel.

Since gNewSense uses Ubuntu repositories, it is trivial to enable
restricted and multiverse, and apt-get non-free software.
DeltaD (gNS 1.0) is binary compatible with Dapper (6.06). This wont necessarily continue.

I believe this is the same as Debian, which does not include contrib
or non-free by default, and they must be enabled to apt-get non-free
gNS doesnt even have these repositories

Also, I wonder if by being a derivative of Ubuntu rather than Debian,
there is an association with Canonical's proprietary web applications.
Such an association may lead gNewSense users to use those proprietary
systems. I believe Debian uses Free web applications to organise
No, gNS uses FSF hardware for building, and the wiki is used for bug tracking.

However, I have experienced practical benefits of Ubuntu over Debian -
in terms of hardware detection, and in terms of prettyness (As Mark
Shuttleworth is fond of saying, "Pretty Is A Feature" [1]) - and so
can understand why creating a 100% downstream of Ubuntu is worthwhile.
hardware support is a, er feature(?) of binary 'things'.
Its not particularly free though.

But I figure its only a matter of time until Debian sorts this out.
When it does, will there be a difference between Debian and gNewSense?
Yes, debian supporst (at this moment in time) 11 times the architectures that gNS does, and has about 11 thousand times the maintainers ;)


Karl Goetz
The buck stops there -> $
Australian Ubuntu users team -

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