Trisquel 8.0 LTS has been released at Wednesday, 18 April 2018. I regard it as the successful software freedom operating system of 2018. Trisquel GNU/Linux consists of 100% free software both in the system and in the repository. Look at it, compare it to regular distros, it's very lightweight and also complete by default (i.e. can play MP3 and MP4); then compare it to another freedom distros, it's long-standing (since 2007) plus actively developed and supported by its community; while it's already user friendly both in desktop appearance (MATE 1.12) and in the installation process (Ubiquity). For all kind of computer users especially software freedom people, I recommend Trisquel 8.0 for your computers!

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Basic Info


  • Name: 2.5GB
  • Version: 8.0
  • Codename: Flidas
  • Release date:  Wednesday, 18 April 2018
  • Previous release: 7.0 Belenos
  • Next release: 9.0 Etiona
  • Kernel: Linux-libre 4.4.0
  • GNU system: coreutils 8.25, binutils 2.26.1, glibc 2.23, tar 1.28, gzip 1.6, wget 1.17
  • LTS: yes, 3 years, until 2021
  • Desktop environment: MATE 1.12
  • Graphical installer: Ubiquity
  • Based on: Ubuntu 16.04
  • Package management: APT and DPKG
  • Graphical package management: Synaptic, GDebi, Add/Remove Applications
  • Official website: https://trisquel.info

1. Freedom Comparison with other Distros


To recognize the freedom Trisquel GNU/Linux brought to us, we need a comparison table showing between it and popular distros like Debian and Ubuntu. In this table, green means good, and red means bad. Clearly this comparison shows Trisquel 8.0 in 2018 is successful in its own goal of giving and guarding its user’s freedom by basically two criteria: (1) giving only free software in both system and repo and (2) having clear policy to reject (remove) proprietary if found. Even Debian, the ultimate source of both Ubuntu and Trisquel, in this freedom comparison, is no match to Trisquel.



Debian Ubuntu Trisquel
Having proprietary software inside the kernel (no=good) No Yes No
Having proprietary software inside the repository (no=good) Yes Yes No
Including proprietary drivers and/or firmware in the system (no=good) No Yes No
Providing proprietary drivers and/or firmware in the repository (no=good) Yes Yes No
Having policy to reject (delete, remove) any proprietary software in the system and repository (yes=good) No No Yes
Endorsed by FSF as 100% free distro (yes=good) No No Yes


2. Overall Comparison with Freedom Distros


Compared to the common 100% free distros, Trisquel is still better in overall whether it's its age, or its active development/forum, or its user friendliness by desktop and graphical installer, or its hardware requirements. The problem with gNewSense is it's too old and not updated; PureOS is still too new and has high requirements; Parabola is actually good but it's not desktop by default nor user friendly; so my conclusion is Trisquel is the best in overall comparison for most desktop users.




gNewSense PureOS Parabola Trisquel
Initial release 2006 (12 years ago) 2015 (3 years ago) 2009 (9 years ago) 2007 (11 years ago)
Current development Inactive Active Active Active
Latest release 2016 (2 years ago) - (rolling) - (rolling) 2018
Desktop by default Yes, GNOME 2 Yes, GNOME 3 No Yes, MATE
Graphical installer Yes, Ubiquity Yes, Calamares No Yes, Ubiquity
Approved as 100% free by the FSF Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hardware requirements (CPU and RAM) (lower = better) Low High Low Low
Based on Debian Debian Arch Ubuntu
Forum activity Inactive (latest post August 2017) Active Active Active
Conclusion Not actively developed, no updates in 2 years, has inactive forum, old software, with GUI by default and low requirements Actively developed, updated daily, with GUI and easy to install but high requirements Actively developed, updated daily, the latest software, very active forum, low requirements, but without GUI and difficult to install Actively developed, updated, new software, has active forum, with GUI, easy to instal, and low requirements

3. Desktop


Here's how Trisquel 8.0 looks like. It has no difference with its Beta except the wallpaper.


Below, the desktop environment used is MATE 1.12.


And it supports icons on desktop area. I can put applications, documents, and audio files there as well.

Icons on desktop

4. Menu


What make a distro user friendly is its desktop menu. Is it easy to navigate without prior knowledge? Is it easy to find by category and find by searching? And Trisquel answers yes with its default menu for most users plus it provides Super Menu built-in that can be enabled via MATE Tweak Tool.


Default menu
List style (Windows 95)
Super Menu, with search
Modern style (Windows Vista)


5. Wallpapers


Actually, there is no new wallpaper except the Trisquel Flidas wallpaper with drops of water over glass. This release brings all previous wallpapers and personally my favorite is still Trisquel Brigantia.

All wallpapers in Trisquel 8.0

6. Themes


Built-in themes are available with nostalgic (TraditionalOK aka Clearlooks from GNOME 2 era) as well as modern one (Ambiant MATE aka Ambiance from Ubuntu 10.10 up to 18.04 era). It provides black theme (Black MATE) as well. Theme changer can be found with right-click desktop area > Change Wallpaper > go to Themes tab.

Caja with 4 different themes

7. Memory Usage


Only +/-520MiB of RAM at idle time at first login. A wise selection by Trisquel Developers to choose MATE between the smallest LXDE and the biggest GNOME, respectively, in RAM usage and in usability for most users. We can compare it to Ubuntu GNOME (1.2GB+), that is too expensive for most users, and to Lubuntu (200MB+) but too limited for desktop use. It is very good for a 100% free distro to have such

System Monitor showing RAM usage: ~500MB

If you followed my previous reviews, you will find this memory usage comparison chart of Bionic Beta 2 distros, and we can say Trisquel being the same MATE distro is still more lightweight (better) than Ubuntu MATE beta 2.

Memory usage comparison


With small memory requirement, Trisquel will be more acceptable for low-spec computer users and this will help software freedom education in more places.

8. Default Applications


Besides the complete set of LibreOffice (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, Base), Trisquel has 2.5GiB worth of ISO size with full set of daily desktop applications. With only default applications, user already can do all common activities like organizing files and folders, writing/reading documents, playing audio and videos, browsing the internet and sending emails, and such.


Abrowser
Web browser
Caja
File manager
Rhythmbox
Audio player
VLC
Video player
Icedove
Mail client (based on Thunderbird)
Pidgin
Instant messenger
GIMP
Image editor
 Atril
PDF reader
Mine sweeper game

Log Viewer
Whole system logs output monitor
Disk Usage Analyzer
Examiner of folders' individual size
Dictionary
Online desktop dictionary

9. Play MP3 and MP4!


Yes, Trisquel 8.0 can play both MP3 and MP4 multimedia formats! Of course here you also can play OGG and WEBM, FLAC and OGV, AAC and MKV, and bunch of other formats but these two most mainstream formats are the most important for most users. This makes Trisquel 8.0 today ready for multimedia playback instantly just like what Linux Mint did for years!

Play MP3
Rhythmbox audio player included with MP3 playback capability. And yes, good news for us, MP3 patent has been expired.
Play MP4
VLC included to play MP4 and all kind of video formats you have.


10. Desktop Tweak & Customization


There are 4 basic appearances built-in we may choose:

  • Default: Windows-like with list menu.
  • Redmond: Windows-like with search menu.
  • GNOME 2: double panel with list menu and workspaces.
  • Ubuntu MATE: double panel with search menu and workspaces.

Trisquel with 4 different panel layouts

These appearances are editable and switchable from one to another by using MATE Tweak Tool included by default. Edited appearance may be saved, too! It's a magic tool to customize the desktop appearance from panel to window, to mix any settings you want.

11. Search Engine


DuckDuckGo being the default internet search engine within Trisquel web browser. It's very important today as we know 2013 global surveillance we all need Google Search alternative that doesn't track us and DuckDuckGo is the most well-known privacy-oriented search engine for now (it's recommended by PRISM Break, PrivacyTools.io, and Restore Privacy sites; it's also used by default in IceCat and Falkon browsers; see DuckDuckGo traffic stats here). It's a good thing Trisquel 8.0 uses DuckDuckGo by default and we hope this will be an example for another distros.

DuckDuckGo Search finding Trisquel

However, it includes Google, Bing, Wikipedia, ebay, and other search engines in the selection on the Preferences.

Default selection of search engines, including Google

And yes, we can still add new search engine from the link Find more below the selection, for example StartPage, FSF's Directory, Yahoo, YouTube, and more.

12. The Differences to Mini Edition and Sugar Edition


Trisquel 8.0 released in three different editions: the regular, the mini, and the kids edition. The main difference is the desktop used: regular=MATE, mini=LXDE, kids=Sugar Desktop. While this review talks about the regular edition, you may see brief screenshots of both other versions:





Trisquel Sugar
With Sugar desktop environment, for all level of education
Trisquel Mini
With LXDE desktop environment, for older hardware

13. Installing Applications


Trisquel 8.0 really brings complete set of package managers. It brings Add/Remove Applications, and Synaptic, and also Gdebi! For most users, especially new comers, it’s enough to use Add/Remove Applications to find and install programs you wish. For learned users, especially long-time Debian family users, you will find enjoyment in using Synaptic instead. Last but not least, especially for both offline users and in special case, Gdebi will help you to install individual .deb package with automatic dependency resolving capabilities.

The three GUIs for installing software packages

14. Email with Encryption, Plus Calendar


Trisquel brings Icedove Mail Client with email encryption feature using Enigmail add-on. Aside of that, it features complete Calendar & Scheduling feature with Lightning add-on. With this, you can easily practice Email Self-Defense by FSF

Mail client in Trisquel

Calendar, inside Icedove

Enigmail 1.9.9, the user friendly encryption tool for emails

15. Repository Mirrors Worldwide


There are at least 10 mirrors from various countries available for Trisquel 8.0 (flidas). If you're a mirror maintainer, you can help providing Trisquel mirror in your country be following official mirroring guide.

  1. https://mirror.fsf.org/trisquel (United States) 
  2. https://mirrors.ocf.berkeley.edu/trisquel (United States) 
  3. http://mirrors.knoesis.org/trisquel/packages (United States)
  4. http://in.archive.trisquel.info/trisquel (India) 
  5. https://mirror.cedia.org.ec/trisquel.packages (Ecuador) 
  6. http://mirrors.serverhost.ro/trisquel/packages (Romania) 
  7. https://mirrors.ustc.edu.cn/trisquel (China) 
  8. https://ftp.caliu.cat/pub/distribucions/trisquel/packages (Spain)
  9. https://ftp.yzu.edu.tw/Linux/trisquel.packages (Taiwan) 
  10. https://ftp.acc.umu.se/mirror/trisquel/packages (Sweden) 

16. Partition Protection


One more good thing is Trisquel 8.0 asks our password every time we access a disk partition. It's very good for privacy, as we may have confidential files in our partitions, and honestly, I'm waiting for this feature on other GNU/Linux distro as well.

Password to open a partition

Conclusion


Trisquel 8.0 is a success in reaching freedom goal (meaning: no proprietary at all) for overall computer users, especially desktop. It is a 100% free distro which is complete, user friendly, and instant. Compared to regular distros, it's at least equally low in requirements but high in usability; compared to common free distros, it's active (not dormant) and long-standing (since 2007). This operating system can be used by general computer users, produced in mass computers (i.e. sold in a PC/laptop), and especially software freedom people. This year, 2018, anybody wants the true free distro would be happy with Trisquel.

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This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


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