gNewSense 3.0 with GNOME 2 desktop
|Company / developer||Current: Sam Geeraerts
Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley
|Initial release||November 2, 2006|
|Latest release||3.1 / February 9, 2014|
|Package manager||dpkg / Synaptic Package Manager|
|Platforms||Loongson, x86, x86-64|
|Default user interface||GNOME|
|License||Exclusively free licenses per GNU Free System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG)|
gNewSense is a computer operating system based on Debian, and developed with sponsorship from the Free Software Foundation. Its goal is user-friendliness, but with all proprietary (e.g. binary blobs) and non-free software removed. The Free Software Foundation considers gNewSense to be composed entirely of free software.
gNewSense takes a relatively strict stance against proprietary software. For example, any documentation that gives instructions on installing proprietary software is excluded. Richard Stallman (founder and president of the Free Software Foundation) used gNewSense in January 2010 and April 2014.
With no releases in two years, on 8 August 2011, DistroWatch classified gNewSense as "dormant". By September 2012 DistroWatch had changed the status to "active" again, and on 6 August 2013, the first version directly based on Debian, gNewSense 3 "Parkes", was released.
By default gNewSense uses GNOME. The graphical user interface can be customized with the user's choice of X display manager, window managers, and other desktop environments available to install through its hosted repositories.
Besides standard system tools and other small applications, gNewSense comes installed with the following software: the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, the Epiphany Internet browser recently renamed to simply "Web", the Empathy instant messenger, and the GIMP for editing photos and other raster graphics. Common software development tools including the GCC are installed by default.
gNewSense has made three major releases (TBA stands for to be announced):
|Version||Code name||Release date||Supported until||Based on||Supported architectures|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.0||DeltaD||2006-11-02||Old version, no longer supported: 2008-05-01||Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake"||N/A|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0||DeltaH||2008-04-30||Old version, no longer supported: 2014-01-03||Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron"||N/A|
|Current stable version: 3||Parkes||2013-08-06||Current stable version: ?||Debian 6.0 "Squeeze"||i386, amd64, Lemote Yeeloong|
|Future release: 4||Next||TBA||Future release: ?||Debian 7 "Wheezy"||i386, amd64, Lemote Yeeloong|
Comparison with other distributions
Non-free software repositories are not provided by the gNewSense project, Most non-free documentation and artwork have been removed. While it was based on Ubuntu, the "Universe" package repository was enabled by default. In order to avoid trademark problems that stem from the modification of Mozilla Firefox, gNewSense 1.1 rebranded it as "BurningDog". BurningDog likewise does not offer to install non-free plugins for various web media, such as Adobe Flash. gNewSense 2.0 uses the Epiphany web browser as released by the GNOME Project, with an option in software sources to install GNU IceCat. gNewSense 3.0 uses Epiphany as the default browser, but also comes with Iceweasel.
Debian is another Linux distribution noted for strict licensing requirements. gNewSense excludes non-free software that Debian includes and does not have repositories for non-free software (which Debian has). Similar to Debian, gNewSense policies do not allow including documentation that are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License with invariant sections. This includes many manuals and documentation released by the GNU project themselves.
Since gNewSense's repositories contain only free software, support for hardware which requires firmware and for which no free firmware exists (such as some wireless network cards) is not available.
By May 1, 2008, 3D graphics and application support had also been removed  because of licensing issues with Mesa 3D. After January 13, 2009, those issues had been resolved and 3D support became standard starting with the 2.2 release.
In reviewing gNewSense 3.0 in August 2013, Jesse Smith of DistroWatch noted that many of the applications provided, including OpenOffice.org 3, the 2.6.32 Linux-libre kernel, IceWeasel 3.5 and GNOME 2.30 were quite out of date. Smith concluded this review with the following words:
Generally speaking, I was happy with gNewSense 3.0. Being based on Debian, the distribution can be counted on to provide both stability and amazing performance. The distribution is lean, fast and uncluttered. The flip side to this is gNewSense's system installer and default package management tools are geared more toward experienced users and will probably provide a steep learning curve to novice Linux users. Not much is automated and there is a minimum of hand holding. The main feature of gNewSense, the lack of proprietary software, is also a double-edged blade. On the one hand, it means the entire operating system can be audited, modified and redistributed. This is great from the perspective of software freedom. The fact that the distribution can play most multimedia formats and handled Flash content fairly well is a testament of the power of free and open source software. The one problem I ran into with gNewSense's software policy was with regards to my wireless network card. Most distributions ship with the non-free Intel firmware, but gNewSense doesn't include it and this means the distribution isn't a good fit with my laptop. It is, on the other hard [sic], a great match with my desktop system.
- "DistroWatch.com: gNewSense". Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- "[gNewSense-users] gNewSense 3.1 released". Lists.nongnu.org. 2014-02-09. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
- "List of Free GNU/Linux Distributions - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation". Gnu.org. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- "Community guidelines – gNewSense GNU/Linux". Wiki.gnewsense.org. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- "An interview with Richard Stallman". Richard.stallman.usesthis.com. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Vito Gentile. "GNU/Linux Meeting 2014: Richard Stallman approda a Palermo" (in Italian). HTML.it. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- "gNewSense 1.0 released – Free Software Foundation". Fsf.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Goetz, K. (12 October 2011). "News". gNewSense. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- "FAQ – gNewSense GNU/Linux". gNewSense. Retrieved 2014-07-19.
- Sneddon, Joey (8 August 2013). "gNewSense 3 Released, Is No Longer Based on Ubuntu". OMG Ubuntu. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Introduction to the Desktop Environment gnewsense.org
- Using the Live CD gnewsense.org
- Using gNewSense gnewsense.org
- Download stable gNewSense
- "gNewSense Official Website | Main / PressRelease20070122". Gnewsense.org. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- "LicenceInformationUpdate - gNewSense GNU/Linux". Gnewsense.org. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- Smith, Jesse (26 August 2013). "Freedom and gNewSense 3.0". DistroWatch. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Main/Deltah – gNewSense GNU/Linux". Gnewsense.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- xserver-xorg: wordy SGI license may not be free bugs.gnewsense.org
- "3D graphics are 100% free software — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software". Fsf.org. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
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