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Review: Trisquel GNU/Linux 9.0

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Trisquel GNU/Linux is an entirely free (libre) distribution based on Ubuntu. Trisquel offers a variety of desktop editions, all of which are stripped of non-free software components. The project is one of the few Linux distributions endorsed by the Free Software Foundation and a rare project that attempts to both be entirely free and friendly to less experienced Linux users.

The Trisquel website lists several desktop editions. The main edition (which is a 2.5GB download) features the MATE desktop environment while the Mini edition is about half the size and runs LXDE. There is also a KDE Plasma edition (called Triskel) along with Trisquel TOAST which runs the Sugar learning platform. Finally, there is a minimal net-install option for people who are comfortable building their system from the ground up using a command line interface.

The release announcement for Trisquel 9.0 is fairly brief and does not mention many features. The bulk of the information is provided in this paragraph: "The default web browser Abrowser, our freedom and privacy respecting take on Mozilla's browser, provides the latest updates from upstream for a great browsing experience. Backports provide extended hardware support." Though it does not appear to be mentioned specifically in the release announcement, Trisquel 9.0 looks to be based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS packages, with some applications backported.

[...]

On the whole I found Trisquel to be pleasant to use, easy to set up, and pretty capable out of the box. I really like how fast it performed tasks and how uncluttered/unbusy the desktop felt.

The one problem I had with Trisquel was the lack of wireless networking support. The distribution strives for software freedom (as defined by the Free Software Foundation) and this means no non-free firmware, drivers, or applications. This slightly limits its hardware support compared to most Linux distributions. It also means no easy access to applications such as Steam, Chrome, Spotify, and so on. This may make Trisquel a less practical operating system to some, but that is sort of the point: Trisquel takes a hard stance in favour of software freedom over convenience.

If you are a person who does not use non-free software and doesn't need non-free wireless support, then Trisquel is probably the best experience you can have with an entirely free Linux distribution. It is painless to set up, offers several desktop flavours, and runs quickly. For free software enthusiasts I would highly recommend giving Trisquel a try.

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