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.
Electrum Bitcoin Wallet
Remote Desktop Viewer
Cheese Webcam Booth
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:
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: