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Free Distros Aren't For Suckers! - That GNU+Linux Guy

Free Distros Aren't For Suckers!

Within the past two weeks, I have taken yet another turn to freedom, and I'm having a wonderful time with it!

The Cause

Due to my activity in various free software communities, my views are often on display for many others ready to criticize. I often proclaim that transitioning to free software is often a slow process. They normally agree, but I would always get flack for still being in that transition process myself.

Often, I would announce that I had removed some proprietary application from my system, and instead of "Good job," I often got "You were using that on your machine?"

Needless to say, that got a bit annoying. I had always wanted a 100% free system, but I had to make a transition just like everyone else.

The Catalyst

At the time, I had been settling for free applications in userspace but nonfree drivers in kernelspace. My setup was one massive System 76 Bonobo running Arch for mostly home use, and a Dell Inspiron Mini running Ubuntu MATE for portable computing.

For the most petty reason ever (the screen being too small for some applications to fit between the MATE panels on the top and bottom), I installed Trisquel Mini one morning on the netbook, and it was very fast and responsive. I marveled for the rest of the day on how good the distro was performing even under my budget hardware.

This surprise was likely due to a collective belief among the Jupiter Broadcasting community that the free distros aren't any good practically.

Now, the Bonobo is a gaming laptop with heavy dependence on proprietary software to effectively run its NVIDIA graphics card. It will run with the Nouveau drivers, but the performance was worse than my netbook running Intel graphics.

After a few days living in total freedom on the netbook, I became uncomfortable using my Arch machine, knowing that on the hard drive was lurking proprietary drivers that (for all practicality), I couldn't live without. Eventually, the empty feeling got to me, and I ordered an Intel NUC (I had been wanting one anyway). When it showed up, I was able to (with one hiccup) install Parabola GNU/Linux-libre onto the SSD, and I'm still using it to write this article.

The Future

As of now, I am running only free software on my primary machines. My production servers and my work machine are still running nonfree distros (including the web server hosting this article).

In the future, I plan to move my production servers over to Debian GNU/Linux with the nonfree repositories disabled (my VPS host does not offer official gnu.org distros).

My work machine will have to continue running nonfree software due to the nature of the duties I have at work. Once I am finished with my internship there, that machine will come home and run a free distro at last.