Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos

There are many different Linux distributions available, but not all of them are focused on providing a truly free software experience. What do I mean by free software? Well, I don’t mean free as in free beer. I mean free as in the freedom do what you want with it. Here’s a snippet from GNU.org’s definition of free software:

“Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price.

Trisquel is one of the few Linux distributions that really believes in providing users with free software. So if that matters to you then Trisquel should definitely be at the top of your list of desktop distributions. You won’t find nonfree software in it, but you will find lots and lots of free software that will meet the needs of almost all desktop users.

The latest release of Trisquel is version 7.0, which has been dubbed “Belenos” after a Celtic sun god. Hey, it’s hard not to love a distro with such a cool name. Trisquel 7.0 is also a long-term support release, and I’ll walk you through what it has to offer in this review.

What’s new in Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Kernel Linux-libre 3.13 with lowlatency and bfq scheduling by default.
Custom desktop based on GNOME 3.12 fallback.
Abrowser 33 (a free Firefox derivative) as default browser.
GNU IceCat 31 available as single-click optional install from Abrowser’s homepage. Complete with many extra privacy features.
Electrum Bitcoin Wallet preinstalled.
Moved to DVD format, now with 50+ languages and extra applications.
Improved accessibility by default.

As you can tell, this release is not chock-full of new features. As I noted above, it’s a long-term support release and that means that the real focus is stability and bug fixes. However, I think it’s still worth looking at because there are probably many people out there who aren’t familiar with Trisquel in the way that they might be with Ubuntu, Linux Mint or other better known distributions.

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos download and install
You can download this distribution from the Trisquel site. You can get Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I opted for the 64-bit version. For this review I downloaded the main version of Trisquel 7.0, which weighs in at about 1.5GB and uses the GNOME 3.12 fallback desktop.

But you also have the option of downloading the Trisquel Mini or Trisquel Sugar TOAST versions, which are only 600MB and 500MB each. The Trisquel Mini version offers the LXDE desktop environment and should hold great appeal for minimalists. The Trisquel Sugar TOAST edition is geared toward kids up to twelve years old, and it offers the Sugar Learning environment.

You can also opt to do a NetInstall, and that ISO is just 25MB. There is also a sources DVD available that is a 3GB download.

The Trisquel installer is quite easy to use, and it’s also very fast. My install happened without any problems, and I opted to download updates during the install. You can watch a slideshow during your install as well. If you’ve ever installed Ubuntu, you will have no problem installing Trisquel 7.0 on your computer. It’s a very simple to use installer that gets the job done without any fuss.

The Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos desktop
Trisquel 7.0 offers a custom desktop that is based on the GNOME 3.12 fallback. This means that you have what most would consider to be a more traditional desktop than Ubuntu GNOME, for example. There is a panel at the bottom that has an application menu, home folder and browser icon. You can also control the sound, clock and click an icon to show the desktop. And you can see your networking information by clicking the up/down arrows.

If you click the Trisquel icon in the panel, you can access all of your applications as well as system settings and the add/remove applications tool. You can also logout, lock your screen or power off your computer. Applications are broken into the usual categories (see below) and it’s very easy to navigate around the menu.

I may be a bit of a throwback, but I really prefer how Trisquel’s menu is set up compared to some of the other distributions I’ve used. For me it makes it simple and fast to get to the applications or tools I need while using my computer. I know that some folks prefer the Unity or GNOME 3 type interfaces, but they have never worked as well for me as the traditional menu system that is in Trisquel and some other distributions.

You can change your desktop background, as well as many other things in System Settings. Just click the Trisquel icon on the panel, and then click on System Settings. You’ll find all of the usual tools there including display settings, bluetooth, passwords and keys, system monitor and many other useful items.

Linux software included in Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Abrowser
Evolution
Pidgin
Liferea
Electrum Bitcoin Wallet
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission

Multimedia
Videos
Brasero
Cheese Webcam Booth
OggConvert
Pitivi
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice

I was mostly pleased with the selection of software that comes with Trisquel. All of it is free, and it pretty much covered all of my day to day computing needs. However, if you find you need more software you can just open the Add/Remove tools application to get additional packages.

To add software, just click the checkbox next to the application you want to install then click Apply changes. Applications in the Add/Remove applications tool are also broken down into the usual categories but you also get access to Education, Programming, Science and a few other options that aren’t in the Trisquel applications menu in the panel.

If you prefer, you can skip the Add/Remove Applications tool and use Synaptic instead. Synaptic is not listed on the applications menu on the panel. But you can find it listed under System in System Settings. Synaptic is a great tool, but it can be daunting to those who are unfamiliar with it. I recommend trying the Add/Remove Applications tool first to see if it will meet your needs.

I was very happy to see that Abrowser defaults to DuckDuckGo instead of other search engines. DuckDuckGo is always my default search engine, regardless of which browser I use. But it was great to have it the default right away instead of Google. Note though that Google is available in the dropdown menu, as is Yahoo, Bing and a number of other sites such as Amazon, Wikipedia, and eBay.

Note that if you want enhanced privacy features, you can easily install GNU/IceCat and use it instead of Abrowser. Just open Abrowser and then click the “install GNU/IceCat” link on the Abrowser default home page. A dialogue box will popup to confirm your choice, just click the Install button. GNU.org and Wikipedia both have helpful overviews of GNU/IceCat.

If you want to update your Trisquel 7.0 system, you’ll need to launch the Software Updater found in the System section of System Settings. When I started it I found I had about 101MB of updates to install. My updates took a few minutes, but everything seemed to install with a problem. The biggest parts of the update seemed to be for LibreOffice.

Where to get help for Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. You might also want to check out these Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos resources:

Trisquel Forum
Trisquel Documentation
Trisquel FAQ

Final thoughts about Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos
I was very pleased with Trisquel 7.0 while I was using it. I found it to be incredibly stable and also very fast while I was opening and using applications. I did not experience any crashes or other overt indications of stability problems.

For me Trisquel 7.0 is pretty much what a desktop Linux distribution should be in terms of usability, software selection and stability. I had pretty much everything I needed right after my install was completed. And I had the satisfaction of knowing that I was using free software the entire time I used Trisquel 7.0.

I highly recommend that you check out Trisquel 7.0, even if you’re not a free software aficionado. It’s well worth a download. And once you get a taste of it, it may end up being your preferred desktop distribution.

What’s your take on Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos? Tell me in the comments below.

Trisquel 7.0 Belenos LTS screenshots:

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos System Settings

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos System Settings

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Prepare Install

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Prepare Install

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Preinstall Boot Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Preinstall Boot Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Panel Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Panel Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Login Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Login Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Install Slideshow

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Install Slideshow

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Home Folder

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Home Folder

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos GRUB Boot Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos GRUB Boot Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Electrum Bitcoin Wallet

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Electrum Bitcoin Wallet

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Desktop

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Desktop

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Add or Remove Applications Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Add or Remove Applications Menu

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Abrowser

Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos Abrowser



Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Trisquel 6.0 LTS was recently released so it’s time to give it another look. Trisquel is a popular distro for users that prefer to use only free software. You won’t find proprietary software included in Trisquel, it’s dedicated to the idea of truly free software.

Here’s a bit of background from the Trisquel FAQ that explains the philosophy behind this distro:

“There are literally hundreds of GNU/Linux distributions designed to fill every conceivable niche. Only a handful of them are entirely free software; Trisquel is one such distribution. That’s why Trisquel is endorsed by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation.

The popularity of GNU/Linux has skyrocketed in recent years. The major distributions are attracting large numbers of new users, but their distributors are not taking the opportunity to effectively teach these same users to value and protect their freedom. Our software is being advocated on purely utilitarian grounds (such as portability, stability, security, customizability, and lack of cost), so the casual observer is led to believe that “Linux” is just another OS, albeit a useful one. While it may appear to be a reasonable compromise for big-name distros like Ubuntu and Fedora to include some nonfree firmware, drivers, and applications in their mostly-free systems for which no complete free drop-in replacements exist, time and experience demonstrates that this only perpetuates the problem. If we want free software alternatives to emerge, our community must actively reject the non-free counterparts.

Trisquel is different. We naturally want to bring you an operating system that is tight, beautiful, and robust. We want your software to be feature-rich and work exactly as you expect it to. But we’ll never compromise your freedom, either.

Free software, unlike proprietary, respects its users essential rights, to ensure they can:

run the program, for any purpose
study how the program works, and adapt it to their needs (which requires having access to the program’s source code).
redistribute copies so they can help others, with or without a fee
distribute copies of their modified versions to others, so that the whole community can benefit. Again, access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Free software is a matter of freedom, not price, although free software is usually distributed at no charge. Think “free” as in “free speech”, not “free beer”.

Many free software programs are copylefted. Copyleft is used by some free software licenses (most notably the GNU GPL) to protect the freedom to redistribute the program by requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. It is a reversal of the typical use of copyright law (prohibiting others from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of a work), hence the name. Non-copyleft free software also exists. It is better to use copyleft in most cases, but if a program is non-copylefted free software, it is still basically ethical.”

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Boot Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Boot Menu

What’s New in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

  • Linux-Libre 3.2
  • Xorg
  • Abrowser 19
  • GNOME 3.4
  • LibreOffice 3.5

If you aren’t familiar with Linux-Libre, here’s a brief explanation of what it is and what it has to offer in Trisquel:

Linux-libre is an operating system kernel and a GNU package [3] that is maintained from modified versions of the Linux kernel. The aim of the project is to remove any software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated or released under proprietary licenses from the Linux kernel. The parts that have no source code are called binary blobs and are generally proprietary firmware which, while generally redistributable, generally do not give the user the freedom to modify or study them. It is a prominent example of free software.

Abrowser now comes with full HTML 5 video support, as well as PDF support without a plugin, and it also supports instant messaging web applications on WebRTC.

GNOME 3.4 contains a number of improvements though it goes beyond the scope of this review to list them all. You can see a full list here.

There’s also a list of LibreOffice 3.5 features and fixes.

Suffice to say that this release of Trisquel contains some good stuff that makes upgrading to it worthwhile.

System Requirements for Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Once again, I was not able to find a list of Trisquel hardware requirements. The same thing happened when I went to write the last review for version 5.5. I urge the Trisquel developers to include a list on the downloads page or in the documentation. Perhaps it’s somewhere on the Trisquel site and I missed it? If so, please post the requirements in the comments below.

Since Trisquel 6.0 LTS is based on Ubuntu Precise, you might want to use that as a baseline for hardware requirements for this release.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Login

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Login

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Download

You can download Trisquel 6.0 LTS from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 728.9 MB. You can download Trisquel 6.0 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Note that you also have the option of downloading a version called “Trisquel Mini” that uses the LXDE desktop instead of GNOME. The mini version weighs in at a reasonably petite 500 MB.

There’s also a NetInstall version, and a Sources DVD, as well as a version with extra translations called “Trisquel i18n.”

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Installation

The Trisquel install is fast and easy, it uses the same installer as Ubuntu.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS is a live distro, so you have the option of booting into it and using it without having to do an install onto your computer. If this is your first time checking out Trisquel, the live desktop is a good way to get a peek at it.

You can peruse a slideshow while your Trisquel install is completed.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Erase Disk

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Erase Disk

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Download Updates

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Download Updates

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Disk Selection

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Disk Selection

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Slideshow

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Install Slideshow

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS desktop is well organized, and relatively uncluttered. You’ll find four icons on the desktop:

Computer
Home
Network Servers
Trash

At the bottom you’ll find a panel with icons for the Trisquel menu, home folder, and web browser. Over to the right you’ll find icons for instant messaging, networking, volume, date, and to show/hide windows.

The Trisquel 6.0 LTS menu is old school, but that’s okay because so am I. You’ll find the usual application categories, software and system settings, places, lock screen, log out and shut down icons. It’s very simple and easy to use, even if you’ve never touched Trisquel before.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Desktop

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Menu

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Nautilus

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Nautilus

Linux Software Included in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Abrowser
Evolution Mail and Calendar
Pidgin IM
Gwibber
Liferea Feed Reader
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
GNOME PPP
Transmission

Multimedia
Movie Player
Brasero Disc Burner
OggConvert
Pitivi Video Editor
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice
Dictionary
Document Viewer

Linux Software Management Tools in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

The Add/Remove applications tool is found on the Trisquel menu. It’s broken down into the usual application categories, and you can search for applications. You can also see how popular an application is based on its star rating.

To update your system, just go to System Settings and scroll down to the System menu, then click on Update Manager.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Software Management

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Software Management

Trisquel 6.0 LTS System Settings

Trisquel 6.0 LTS System Settings

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Update Manager

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Update Manager

Problems & Headaches Found in Trisquel 6.0 LTS

Trisquel 6.0 LTS installed and ran very well for me. I didn’t see any noticeable problems or issues while running it. It seemed to be quite speedy and stable during my use.

If you’ve run into any problems or issues, please share them in the comments below. It’s always helpful for readers to know about possible headaches before doing their own install.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Abrowser

Trisquel 6.0 LTS Abrowser

Where To Get Help for Trisquel 6.0 LTS

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Trisquel 6.0 LTS documentation or discusson forum.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Trisquel 6.0 LTS

As with the last release, I’m very pleased with Trisquel 6.0 LTS. It’s a fantastic distro for anyone who believes in truly free software, and it’s still a fine choice even if you aren’t a free software purist but just want a great distro to use on your computer.

Trisquel 6.0 LTS is well suited for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Trisquel 6.0 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.

Trisquel 5.5

When it comes to Linux distributions, it’s truly different strokes for different folks. Some folks want software that is truly free, meaning that they can do with it as they please. That’s where distros like Trisquel come in. Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, but it provides only free software. You will not find proprietary software included with it.

Here is the official Trisquel take on free software:

Linux, the kernel developed and distributed by Linus Torvalds et al, contains non-Free Software, i.e., software that does not respect your essential freedoms, and it induces you to install additional non-Free Software that it doesn’t contain.

Free software, unlike proprietary, respects its users essential rights, to ensure they can:

run the program, for any purpose
study how the program works, and adapt it to their needs (which requires having access to the program’s source code).
redistribute copies so they can help others, with or without a fee
distribute copies of their modified versions to others, so that the whole community can benefit. Again, access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Free software is a matter of freedom, not price, although free software is usually distributed at no charge. Think “free” as in “free speech”, not “free beer”.

Many free software programs are copylefted. Copyleft is used by some free software licenses (most notably the GNU GPL) to protect the freedom to redistribute the program by requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. It is a reversal of the typical use of copyright law (prohibiting others from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of a work), hence the name. Non-copyleft free software also exists. It is better to use copyleft in most cases, but if a program is non-copylefted free software, it is still basically ethical.

I did a review quite a while back of Trisquel, and I’m please to note that they’ve recently released Trisquel 5.5.

Live CD Desktop

Trisquel is a live distro, you can boot into it and try it before you install it.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

GNOME 3
GTK 3
Linux-libre 3.0.0
Abrowser 11
LibreOffice 3.4.4

GNOME 3 has certainly caused its share of controversy since being released. The Trisquel developers have treaded very carefully indeed in this release. Rather than use GNOME Shell, they have opted to use the GNOME 3 fallback interface. I’ll have more to say about this in the desktop section, but it’s something you should be aware of if  you are considering Trisquel as your distro of choice.

Linux-libre 3.0.0 is a project designed to help produce truly free Linux distros:

GNU Linux-libre is a project to maintain and publish 100% Free distributions of Linux, suitable for use in Free System Distributions, removing software that is included without source code, with obfuscated or obscured source code, under non-Free Software licenses, that do not permit you to change the software so that it does what you wish, and that induces or requires you to install additional pieces of non-Free Software.

Our releases can be easily adopted by 100% Free GNU/Linux distros, as well as by their users, by distros that want to enable their users to choose freedom, and by users of those that don’t.

So those of you who are very concerned about free software can rest easier now.

Abrowser is an unbranded browser that uses free add-ons from the Trisquel site rather than Mozilla’s site (since that site may contain non-free add-ons).

ABrowser

ABrowser is an unbranded version of Firefox that uses Trisquel's free add-on library.

LibreOffice 3.4.4 includes numerous improvements, here’s a brief snippet of highlights from Softpedia:

· ability to work with and import SVG files;
· import filter for Lotus Word Pro documents;
· import filter for Microsoft Works documents;
· easily format title pages and numbering in LibreOffice Writer;
· enhanced Navigator Tool in LibreOffice Writer;
· better ergonomics for cell and sheet management in LibreOffice Calc;
· PDF import support;
· slide-show presenter console;
· better report builder;
· comes bundled with lots of great extensions.

System Requirements
I poked around on the Trisquel site but, oddly, I could not find a specific list of system requirements. Trisquel actually has some good documentation, so I was surprised that I could not find a simple list of system requirements. It’s possible that I may have missed them though. If you know what they are, please post them in the comments section below.

Since Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, use Ubuntu’s system requirements as a general rule of thumb. Please note that there are different versions of Trisquel. The system requirements obviously will differ, depending on which version you choose to run. I picked the home version for this review.

Trisquel, for home users.
Trisquel Edu for educational centers.
Trisquel Pro for small and medium-size businesses or companies.
Trisquel Mini, mainly for netbooks and older computers.

The Desktop
The first thing I always notice in a distro is the desktop wallpaper. I know, I know. Who cares, right? Well, I do. Some of them are great, some are awful, and some are just bland. Trisquel has a very pretty default wallpaper. It’s a shot of some tree tops with an evening sky full of stars. It sets a pleasant tone and feel for this distro. Then again, I’m more of a night person at this point so maybe your mileage may vary. You early risers might not like it.

Trisquel 5.5 Desktop

The desktop after Trisquel was installed.

The Trisquel developers opted not to use the default GNOME 3 interface, fearing that it would require users to install non-free drivers to use it. So, instead it uses GNOME panel 2x.  Here’s the official take from the Trisquel site:

This release is our first to be based on GNOME 3, GTK 3 and also Linux-libre 3.0.0. GNOME 3 was a big challenge, because as it is designed by now, it is not usable for our community. The new default interface of GNOME 3 is GNOME Shell, a program that requires 3D acceleration to work, as it relies on graphics composition. Sadly, many graphics cards today still lack a libre driver providing acceleration, so many users who would choose free drivers will be redirected to a fallback desktop environment. We think that this way many users could feel compelled to install non-free drivers to be able to use the new desktop, so we decided to use the fallback environment as default, and improve it when possible. Luckily this fallback is a GTK 3 implementation of GNOME panel 2x, and not only is it very usable, and even more stable than the original, but it is also accessible, something GNOME Shell is currently lacking.

One other advantage of using the fallback as default is that we were able to use it to provide the same desktop layout that many Trisquel users have become attached to. You can of course adapt and customize it with panels and applets as usual.

I know that some will disagree with this, while others will support it. I think it was a very wise move on their part. Frankly, I think this Trisquel desktop is more usable than GNOME Shell. It’s fast, stable, and you can quickly do what you need to do versus the pain in the ass that is GNOME Shell.

Desktop Panel

The panel on the Trisquel 5.5 desktop.

Panel Menu

The panel application menu.

I’ve gotten less angry about GNOME 3, but I still very much prefer the fallback desktop in Trisquel to GNOME Shell. Everything just works the way it should, so I think long-time Trisquel users will be quite happy about it. I’m not sure what will happen down the road, but for now Trisquel’s desktop is a pleasure to use.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
Document Viewer
gThumb
Simple Scan

Internet
Abrowser
Evolution
Pidgin
Gwibber
Liferea
Remmina Remote Desktop
GNOME PPP
Transmission

Multimedia
Movie Player
Exaile Music Player
Brasero Disc Burner
OggConvert
Pitivi Video Editor
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice
Dictionary

Software Management
Trisquel’s software manager is easy to use. To get started just click the Trisquel button in the bottom panel, and then click the Add/Remove Applications selection on the menu. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for applications. There are star ratings, descriptions, and screenshots available (if you click the screenshot button in an application description).

Add or Remove Applications

The Add/Remove Applications tool is filled with truly free software.

Adding & Removing Software
If you want to add or remove a software application, just find it in the Add/Remove Applications tool. Click the checkbox next to it to add the application, or uncheck it if it’s already installed. Then click the Apply Changes button.

System Settings

The system settings menu for Trisquel 5.5.

Problems & Headaches
Trisquel worked very well for me, I didn’t encounter any noticeable burps or slowdowns while using it.

The only potential problem I noticed was that the install seemed a bit slow compared to other distros based on Ubuntu or Ubuntu itself. I’m not sure why, but I don’t consider it all that big of a deal because I have plenty of other things to do while the installer is running. I just turn my attention to other tasks and let the installer run.

The install itself is quite easy so don’t let my minor nitpick about it here bother you.

Install

You can watch a slideshow that touts the virtues of free software during the install.

Boot Menu

The Trisquel 5.5 boot menu before installation.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Trisquel FAQ, Mailing Lists, Forum and Documentation.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Trisquel 5.5 is a great choice for those who prefer to use only free software, without any kind of proprietary stuff. The developers have clearly taken the time to go out of their way to cleanse Trisquel of potentially offensive proprietary software. While some folks won’t care about this, others certainly will appreciate it. Even if you aren’t a free software purist, Trisquel 5.5 is definitely worth a download.

I found Trisquel to be a genuinely enjoyable distro. It’s what I would call a well-ordered and well developed distro. It accomplishes what the developers set out to do, and it does it in a very attractive package.

Trisquel is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Trisquel 5.5
Web Site:  http://trisquel.info/
Price: Free
Pros: Provides fully free software; uses GNOME 3 fallback interface instead of GNOME Shell.
Cons: The installer seemed a tad bit slow; those wanting to use GNOME Shell might be disappointed.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users who prefer truly free software.
Rating: 4/5

Trisquel 4.0 LTS

There are Linux distros that contain some free software and there are Linux distros that contain only free software. Trisquel is one of the latter distros; you will find only free software included with it. If you want proprietary software, you’ll definitely have to look elsewhere. Trisquel is perfect for Linux purists who only want truly free software on their computers. If you aren’t sure what the term “free software” means, here’s a good definition from the Trisquel FAQ:

Free software, unlike propietary, is known to respect its users essential rights, to ensure they can:

  • run the program, for any purpose
  • study how the program works, and adapt it to their needs (Access to the source code is a precondition for this).
  • redistribute copies so they can help anyone
  • improve the program, and release their improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Once again, access to the source code is a precondition for this

Here’s some background from Wikipedia about Trisquel Linux including an explanation of where its name comes from:

“Trisquel GNU/Linux is a version of the GNU operating system using the Linux kernel. The main goals of the project are the production of a fully free as in speech system that must be easy to use, complete, and with good language support including translations for for the English (default), Basque, Catalonian, Chinese, French, Galician, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish languages.

Trisquel’s name comes from the Celtic symbol triskelion, or triskele in English, consisting of three interlocked spirals. The project’s logo depicts a triskelion made of the union of three Debian swirls as a sign of recognition to the project on which it is based.

The project hosts its own repositories which are derivatives of Ubuntu’s main and universe components, but with all proprietary software removed. The differences include the removal of all non-free packages, the substitution of the original Linux kernel with the blob-free version linux-libre, and the addition of several packages.

There are four versions of Trisquel:

* Trisquel, for home use
* Trisquel Mini, for netbooks and old computers
* Trisquel Edu, for schools
* Trisquel Pro, for small enterprises

For this review, I downloaded the first version. Trisquel supports 32 and 64 bit systems.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

  • Common
    • Linux-libre 2.6.32
    • Xorg 7.5
    • Gnash 0.8.8
  • Standard edition
    • GNOME 2.30
    • OpenOffice.org 3.2
    • Gimp 2.6
    • Mozilla-based web browser 3.6.9
  • Mini edition
    • LXDE 0.5
    • Midori 0.2

Other changes include the following:

Rhythmbox has been replaced by Exaile
Shotwell has been added for photo management
PiTIVI has been added for video editing
Empathy has replaced Pidgin
XSane has been replaced by Simple-Scan

I’m very glad to see that Shotwell has been added; and, unlike other distros, GIMP is still available as one of the default graphics editing programs. Trisquel users get the best of both worlds as part of the default software install.

I’m not as enthused about Exaile replacing Rhythmbox, but I don’t see it as all that big of a deal either. I’m not particularly attached to either program.

Adding PiTIVI is definitely a good idea, it’s turning out to be a relatively popular video editing program. It fills a helpful niche on the desktop, so I’m glad to see it becoming bundled by default so it’s easier for new Linux users to find it and check it out.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
I could not locate an exact list of hardware requirements on the Trisquel site. If you know what they are, please post them in the comments below. The Trisquel developers may want to add a list of requirements to their download or FAQ pages soon. It’s always helpful to have that information available before downloading a distro.

Installation
The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end. Trisquel is a Live CD distro, you can pop the CD in and boot into the desktop without having to do an install.

Please note that if you are running an earlier version of Trisquel, you can simply upgrade via the update manager tool or by using “sudo do-release-upgrade” at the command line.

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:


The Desktop
When you first boot into the Trisquel desktop, the first thing you’ll notice is the wallpaper (more on that below). The second thing you’ll notices are the four icons on the desktop:

Computer
Home
Network Servers
Trash

I usually dislike having icons on the desktop, but Trisquel’s didn’t really bother me too much. Desktop clutter can be annoying, but I can tolerate four icons.

The panel at the bottom contains the Trisquel button (click it to access application menus, etc.), the Home folder and a link to the web browser. On the right you’ll find icons for networking, volume, mail/chat, time/date and show/hide windows.

Controls
To customize your system, click the Trisquel button on the panel then choose System and then Control Center.

The Control Center contains the usual function categories:

Personal
Look and Feel
Internet & Network
Hardware
System
Other

Themes
Trisquel uses a custom default theme. The others available include three other Trisquel themes (Trisquel, Trisquel-2, Trisquel-3), plus the usual Glossy, Mist, Glider, Crux and Clearlooks themes.

Wallpaper
The Trisquel desktop wallpaper is quite striking and beautiful. It’s the first thing you notice when you boot into the desktop. I review so many different distros that I tend to get jaded about these kinds of things; I love the swirls of color found in this wallpaper though. It really stands out and grabs your attention. While I generally wouldn’t bother keeping the default wallpaper in most distros, I think I would definitely leave Trisquel’s alone for quite a long time.

There are a few other wallpaper selections available in the Appearance Preferences menu, but they are mostly rather dull compared to the default wallpaper.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
gThumb Image Viewer
GIMP
Shotwell
Simple Scan

Internet
Mozilla Browser
Liferea Feed Reader
XChat IRC
Transmission
Empathy
Remote Desktop Viewer

Multimedia
Cheese Webcam
Exaile
Movie Player
OggConvert
Pitivi Video Editor
Sound Recorder

Office
OpenOffice.org
Evolution
Dictionary

Others
Brasero Disc Burner
Disk Usage Analyzer

Software Management
To add or remove software, click on the Trisquel button and choose Add/Remove Applications. Applications are broken down into categories, or you can search by name. When you find an application you want, click the checkbox. From there you can click the Get Screenshot button to see a screenshot, or you can click Apply Changes to have the application added to your system.

If you prefer you can also use Synaptic for package management, but the default software manager is more attractive and you can see popularity stars for each application. Frankly, I wouldn’t bother with Synaptic, but to each his/her own.

To update your system, click the Trisquel button then System then Adminstration and then choose Update Manager. I had no problem updating my Trisquel system. The update took just a couple of minutes.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
When I first tried to run a flash based video on YouTube; I got the error message below. But after running the system update, the video loaded fine (see 2nd screenshot).

This is a bit odd since flash is technically not “free software” and shouldn’t be installed. I’m not sure what happened here. I’m not a free software purist, so I don’t really care about flash loading. However, some people might not appreciate it if they choose Trisquel as their distro solely because of its promise of free software only.

Odd. If anybody can shed some light on this mystery, please post in the comments section. I’m really not sure how flash got into my browser in this distro. Very strange. :blink:

Edit: Brian Masinick clued me in that it was Gnash that was behind the YouTube video working. So the first screenshot might have been a YouTube error. The Trisquel browser has Gnash, DivX and Totem plugins bundled into it. Mystery solved, thanks Brian!

Multimedia Applications
Trisquel comes with a good selection of multimedia applications including the Pitivi Video Editor, OggConvert and the Exaile Music Player. It hits pretty much all of the sweet spots as far as making and consuming multimedia content go.

Problems & Headaches
Beyond the flash mystery, I didn’t have any noticeable problems with Trisquel. It seemed very stable, and also quite fast. Applications loaded quickly and I didn’t see any system slowdown or other burps while running it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the FAQ, Community and Documentation links on the Trisquel site.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Trisquel is the perfect desktop distro for Ubuntu fans who want only free software included with their systems. It does its job and it does it very well. Not everyone cares about free software, of course, but for those who do this is an ideal distro. It’s easy to install and manage, and it comes with a good selection of default software that covers most everyday desktop functions.

I highly recommend Trisquel for distrohoppers to check out as well. Even if you don’t use it as your daily distro, it’s well worth downloading and playing with in VirtualBox.

Trisquel 4.0 LTS is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit Eye On Linux for more Linux coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Trisquel 4.0 LTS
Web Site: http://trisquel.info/en
Price: Free
Pros: Comes with free software only; based on Ubuntu. Easy to install and manage.
Cons: Lacks potentially useful proprietary software.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Trisquel is best suited to those who truly want a free software only system. Others with a less political point of view might be better suited using alternative distros instead.
Rating: 4/5

Trisquel 3.0 STS Linux (Dwyn)

I came across another interesting Linux distribution today called Trisquel Linux. Trisquel is geared more toward Linux purists since it focuses on providing truly free software without any non-free stuff.

Here’s some background from Wikipedia about Trisquel Linux including an explanation of where its name comes from:

“Trisquel GNU/Linux is a version of the GNU operating system using the Linux kernel. The main goals of the project are the production of a fully free as in speech system that must be easy to use, complete, and with good language support including translations for for the English (default), Basque, Catalonian, Chinese, French, Galician, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish languages.

Trisquel’s name comes from the Celtic symbol triskelion, or triskele in English, consisting of three interlocked spirals. The project’s logo depicts a triskelion made of the union of three Debian swirls as a sign of recognition to the project on which it is based.

The project hosts its own repositories which are derivatives of Ubuntu’s main and universe components, but with all proprietary software removed. The differences include the removal of all non-free packages, the substitution of the original Linux kernel with the blob-free version linux-libre, and the addition of several packages.

What’s New In This Release
This release of Trisquel has been split into two editions, the standard desktop and the lightweight version better suited for netbooks and old computers. For this review I downloaded the standard desktop version of Trisquel.

Here’s a sample of some of what’s new in this release of Trisquel Linux:

Linux-libre 2.6.28
Gnome 2.26
OpenOffice.org 3.0
GIMP 2.6
Trisquel Web Browser 3.0 (Based on Mozilla)

Trisquel features a clean but rather bland desktop.

Trisquel features a clean but rather bland desktop.

Requirements & Installation
Unfortunately, I was not able to locate specific system requirements for the 3.0 version of Trisquel on its site. Since it’s based on Ubuntu, however, I’ll use the standard Ubuntu requirements as I did in the last review:

The minimum system requirements for a desktop installation are a 300 MHz x86 processor, 256 MB of RAM, 4 GB of hard drive space,[62] and a video card which supports VGA at 640×480 resolution.

The recommended system requirements for the desktop installation are a 700 MHz x86 processor, 384 MB of RAM, 8 GB of hard drive space,[62] and a video card which supports VGA at 1024×768 resolution.

Installing Trisquel Linux is about the same as any other Ubuntu-based distribution. Note that Trisquel is a Live CD version so you can check it out without actually having to do an install.

My install took just a few minutes and I didn’t encounter any problems.

Trisquel is a Live CD distro so you can check it out without installing it.

Trisquel is a Live CD distro so you can check it out without installing it.

The Trisquel Linux install routine is very easy.

The Trisquel Linux install routine is very easy.

Desktop & Apps
After my last review of moonOS 3, Trisquel is a bit of a let down when it comes to the desktop theme. Frankly, it’s just really boring and blase to look at. Now I know I probably shouldn’t be too critical since moonOS is so unique and beautiful in how it looks but it’s pretty tough to stare at Trisquel’s desktop after experiencing the glory of moonOS 3.

I’d like to see the Trisquel developers give us something gorgeous to start at when we first boot into our Trisquel desktop. There’s nothing better for a distro-hopper like me then to be startled and impressed when first viewing a remastered distro’s theme and wallpaper the way that I was when I first looked at moonOS 3.

Trisquel comes with a respectable amount of software and here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:

Games
Chess
Blackjack
Gnometris
Mines
Nibbles
Sodoku

Graphics
gThumb Image Viewer
GIMP
Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
XSane Image Scanning
Cheese Webcam Booth

Internet
Web Browser
Evolution Email
Pidgin IM
XChat
Transmission

Multimedia
Audacious
Brasero Disc Burner
Elisa Media Center
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player
TVtime Television Viewer

Office
OpenOffice.Org
Evolution Calendar
Dictionary

More software is available via the Add/Remove Applications tool. Just be sure to refresh it so you make sure you have the most up-to-date list of packages before you begin installing other applications. Additional software available includes Abiword, GBonds, KOffice, KOrganizer, Seamonkey and many other applications.

It's easy to add more software to your Trisquel system.

It’s easy to add more software to your Trisquel system.

Sound and Multimedia
When I first booted into my Trisquel desktop I was pleased to note that the sound was working fine and I was able to hear the desktop loading theme play. I also tested Trisquel’s ability to play DVDs and YouTube videos. My test “Classic Superman” DVD played just fine and I had no problems playing YouTube videos. I didn’t need to install any additional codecs or software.

What I Liked Most

There really isn’t any one thing that stood out for me using Trisquel. It’s pretty much a standard Ubuntu remaster geared toward free software purists. I’m not one of those, however, so I can’t say I found anything that really stood out for me while using Trisquel Linux.

Problems & Headaches
Trisquel performed pretty well for me during its install and I didn’t encounter any real problems using it. Unfortunately I don’t have much to complain about. I hate it when this happens as it doesn’t leave me much to talk about in this section of the view.

Hopefully future versions of Trisquel will have lots and lots of problems of a truly horrific nature so I can cover them in detail here.

Just kidding.

I had no problems playing DVDs or YouTube videos.

I had no problems playing DVDs or YouTube videos.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Trisquel Wiki and the Trisquel Forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Some remastered distros stand out quite a bit from the pack and others don’t. Trisquel worked well for me and did its job but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I’d like to say I have strong feelings about it one way or another but I really don’t.

It’s really geared toward those who have an ideological preference for truly free software. If you’re not one of those people then I suspect that there are other distros that will have more appeal to you for one reason or another. So I recommend Trisquel mostly for folks that insist on totally free software in their daily desktop distro.

Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users can all use Trisquel. If you’re a distro-hopper and you just want to check it out then I’d say go for it. It probably won’t last too long on your system but at least you can say you gave it a look.

Summary Table:

Product: Tisquel 3.0 STS Linux “Dwyn”
Web Site: http://trisquel.info/
Price: Free
Pros: Includes free software only. Easy install. Good selection of software.
Cons: Somewhat unattractive desktop theme and wallpaper.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: Trisquel Linux is best suited for those who prefer not to have non-free software included in their desktop distributions. Beyond that much of what it offers can already be found in other, better known distributions.
Rating: 3.5/5