Trisquel 5.5 is here – loaded with Freedom and that « classic » feeling

Trisquel GNU/Linux is a Linux distribution using a free version of the Linux kernel as distributed by the Linux-libre project. The main goals of the project are the production of a fully free software (free as in free speech) system that must be easy to use, complete, and with good language support. (from Wikipedia).

Trisquel 5.5 is an Ubuntu derivative based on Ubuntu 11.10 and was released on Monday. I discovered Trisquel through the Free Software Foundation, which distributes it on a nice wallet-USB key to all new members. Trisquel 6.0 will be based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

I started using it as my main OS at home last year (with version 5.0) when the numerous changes brought with Unity, problems with accessibility and increasing UI regressions prompted me to explore other options. As I’ve been choosing my new hardware and peripherals to be supported with free software, there wasn’t any transition or adjustments needed. Even some PPAs I used (notably, LibreOffice) are fully compatible. To my surprise, several fellow Ubuntu users also already knew about it and have been experimenting with it. So if you’re in a similar situation, I’d encourage you to download and try Trisquel some time.

With Ubuntu 12.04 LTS there has been some improvement to get a good fallback mode but I rely on too many things that used to be there and « just work » like multi-monitor support, applets, directory encryption at user creation, etc. and I kept removing non-free features I don’t use like Ubuntu One. I’ve found it’s actually less effort than I thought to push the IT freedom mindset a bit further, use a derivative that chooses a conservative path (even remaining ~6 months behind current Ubuntu releases) and I am learning a lot from Trisquel’s helpful community – particularly hardware! That’s in no small part thanks to Christopher Waid from ThinkPenguin.

Even being a commercial support services customer at Canonical during the last year wasn’t enough to work around some issues. It’s still a great way to bring attention to important issues when you know how to report bugs and can follow-up tightly on such reports. My current job doesn’t leave much time for experimentation and bug-reporting, but I still used 12.04 LTS both at home and at work as my main environments during alpha an beta. Although there are good intentions to help the « old timers », I can’t be always afford such experimentation, and exploring ways to get closer the « 100% free software » experience also means taking the challenge of exploring other options.