Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 16:54

Here is my review of Trisquel 9.0 Etiona the newly released computer operating system. It is the successor of Flidas and now based on Ubuntu 18.04. It brings the latest improvements by excellently keeping its user friendliness from the family of most secure operating systems on earth. As always, I choose the Regular Edition, with MATE Desktop choice, to report this to you. We will see what’s new in this release and why I call it Software Freedom Vehicle now continuing Successful Freedom in the past. With Etiona, everyone can see that Free Software as well as copyleft are already practical and now we can see that even clearer than before. Let's go!
(The Freedom Vehicle)
Subscribe to UbuntuBuzz Telegram Channel to get article updates.

About Trisquel 9

Nine released last year on October 16th or two years after Eight released. Codenamed Etiona, it is now the successor of the fifteen years living of the completely free software operating system Trisquel GNU/Linux. If Eight was based on Ubuntu Xenial, now Nine is based on Bionic continuing tradition to follow Ubuntu Long Term Support editions as basis, while in reality the latest Ubuntu LTS is already Focal Fossa. For this version, Trisquel presents 4 editions --while preserving both 32 and 64 bit supports-- namely Trisquel Regular (MATE), Triskel (KDE) and this is new, Trisquel Mini (LXDE), and Trisquel Sugar. Nine is available for everyone to download at or purchase as personal computers at Respects Your Freedom.

(Nine showing its own system details on right side and Add/Remove Applications [trisquel-app-install] on left side)

Programs included in this version are in general MATE Desktop 1.20, Abrowser 81, Icedove Email Client 68, LibreOffice 6, GIMP 2.8, GNU Jami (instant messenger) 2020, Linux-libre kernel 4.15, GNU Bash 4.4, GPG 2.2, Synaptic Package Manager 0.84, Python version 2 and 3, LightDM 1.26, Xorg 7.7, Back In Time (backup tool) 1.1.2, Electrum Bitcoin Wallet, PDF Shuffler (split and merge tool), and without snapd nor flatpak. Names marked bold are the newly added ones!

1. Hardware

Fortunately, in this ninth version we see more mass productions of Trisquel laptops. By it I mean now there are vendors who ship laptops prebuilt with Trisquel worldwide from both Europe and United States. More than that, we acknowledge Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certifications for several laptops which are guaranteed to be working perfectly with Trisquel! This is a great win in hardware front we badly need for GNU/Linux since years. What I mean is, we really need GNU operating systems to be mass produced (just like Windows) so free software will become a norm in the world (instead of nonfree software) and we now see the realization with Trisquel. You can buy such laptops from RYF.

(Laptops with Trisquel preloaded)

Hardware used for this review is my ThinkPad T430: Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, Intel HD graphics, Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6250 wifi, 20GB hard disk partition with EXT4 filesystem.

As I do not purchase an RYF but already had one laptop, I installed Trisquel Etiona on it. And based on my observation, I can report this list of working and not working hardware of my ThinkPad T430:
  • CPU: ok
  • GPU: ok
  • RAM: ok
  • Sound: ok
  • LAN: ok
  • HDD: ok
  • DVDROM: ok 
  • Webcam: ok
  • Microphone: ok
  • Bluetooth: not working
  • Wifi: not working
If you read GNU FSDG carefully, you will understand that hardware not working with Trisquel is hardware that requires nonfree software -- in other words, you already bought that but it's still completely owned by the manufacturer. So, my bluetooth and wifi are not working on Trisquel 9 because they are nonfree hardware. From software freedom point of view, this is good, as this protects me as the user from surrendering my freedom.
Note: if we want to buy device replacements that work with Trisquel, like bluetooth or wifi, we can find plenty information at aside from RYF too.

2. Daily Purpose & Connectivity

Accessing files and folders, making documents, connecting to the internet, all work well with Trisquel. If you don’t find your laptop wifi working, as a temporary solution use your USB Tethering from smartphone or mifi, so you can connect to the internet. 

(Trisquel 9 appearance)

For the desktop, by default Super key (Windows key) is not usable so you use mouse click to open start menu every time. However, if you change the start menu applet into Advanced Mate Menu, then you can use Super key just like me. (As you may know I am accustomed to KDE so this is big plus to me.)

In this version, Trisquel includes GNU Jami. It is a complete messenger like Telegram, but serverless, and already includes video call feature. Previously called Ring, it is a High Priority Project by the Free Software Foundation that falls into category of telephony (Real-time voice and video chat). As far as I know, Trisquel is the first OS to include it out of the box (ever see a distro includes Telegram or Signal by default?).  This is actually what makes me excited to try Etiona at first time. And after I tried Jami on it, I feel it is incredible, the video call is amazing. This means Trisquel is one step ahead in promoting software freedom by promoting its fellow free messenger.
(Connectivity between my Trisquel laptop and a phone: two ways video call with Jami including file sharing and share screen abilities)

3. Graphics Purpose

Photo editing, drawing, and making animations work with Trisquel Nine.

(Graphic editing programs even the 3D ones work well! Oh, yeah, and illustration drawing works too  like making educational posters.)

There’s professional applications namely GIMP (like Photoshop), Inkscape (like CorelDRAW), Scribus (like PageMaker), and Synfig (like Macromedia Flash MX) as well as Blender (like 3D Max), FreeCAD (like AutoCAD), and on the above I show you Sweet Home 3D (like SketchUp but for interiors) displaying rooms and furniture design viewed from aerial view as well as my two illustration design works from last year (see here and see also here).

4. Educational Purpose

Trisquel itself is an education vehicle – it is an important part of teaching that all computer users should have their software freedom. By version nine, Trisquel conveys this teaching to the world. It truly demonstrates you a computing is possible with completely free – without proprietary parts – kernel, repository, and built-in applications plus you can bring it home. Most distros cannot exercise this as many of them in fact still include nonfree software. As a consequences of this software freedom, Trisquel is guaranteed to be free from virus (malware) as well. If we consider most shallow reason, unlike Windows or macOS, Trisquel helps schools to save money as it is completely gratis along with all software it gives. In this regards, Trisquel proves the teaching that education should exclusively use free software.
For the sake of practical example, here's my online teaching activities done with Trisquel. As some of you might know, I use Telegram and Jitsi to make remote classes with my people in Indonesia.
(An online classroom on Jitsi)

Above is my student showing his Kubuntu desktop to me via video call (it is called share screen) when I was using Trisquel. We communicate via voice call and I continuously give him instructions to do while I watch everything he does on screen, whenever a mistake happens I can immediately correct it. The technology you see on that picture is called Jitsi.

(An online classroom on Telegram)

And above is a voice group call between my students and me. I want to talk to them again after a while we didn't meet. This conference was held right after Telegram announced this long awaited feature, voice group, which enables me to call multiple students at once. We discuss about computing, Free Software, and GNU/Linux as usual at that moment just like usually we do. As a teacher, I feel everything goes smoothly!

5. Amusement Purpose

Gaming, audio playback, and watching movie all work well with Trisquel Nine. Yes! Trisquel can play MP3 as well as MP4 too thanks to VLC Media Player. Perhaps, some of you thought that a completely free OS can not play nonfree formats like mp3 or mp4, right? In fact, Trisquel plays both just fine. The software to play both are free so it includes them without problem. That’s among the basic features Trisquel has.
(Browser playing flawlessly a latest video by the FSF "Fight to Repair" | Playing mp4 and mp3 flawlessly: one is The Alps Top Ten video and another one is Ubuntu from Wikipedia read out loud as audio | Playing Mahjongg game among other built-in games | Notice that to save space, the Trisquel panel can be switched vertical at left)
Above is Mines and Mahjongg games as well as a playback of a streaming video. Available in the repository more video games such as Age of Empires-like 0 A.D., Counter Strike-like OpenArena, Diablo-like Flare RPG, and Crash Team Racing-like Super Tux Kart. More apps and games can be added if you wish (and you can explore thousands!) from the Add/Remove Applications.

6. Shortcomings

From people-who-install-os' perspective, especially for people-who-don't-have-compatible-hardware, Trisquel does not work with most wifi chips such as Broadcom BCM4313 or Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (both are mine). If you fall into this category of people, you will find Trisquel 9 not satisfying as your wifi won't work. (Note: mine is not working too, but I am prepared about this and connect using my mifi's USB tethering instead.) 

Speaking about graphics, I found only a little --non significant-- glitch on my ThinkPad when I enabled Marco compositor that is drop shadow of context menu not rendered properly

Lastly, speaking about convenience, I think many programs are not friendly with window resizing, as some can be resized to be so tiny while others can't (mostly are GNOME apps). For example, below I can shrink Viewnior and Caja windows but no matter how much I resize them, I cannot make both GNOME's Mahjongg and Mines windows as tiny as them, so this hinder me to make beautiful screenshot with all of them on one screen. This is less convenient to me, as I feel it decreases desktop harmony for the user.



Trisquel 9 is:

  • already empower real computers (RYF) and shipped worldwide,
  • available for 32 bit and 64 bit,
  • available in KDE edition aside from Regular MATE, Mini LXDE, and Sugar Kids edition,
  • can be installed in both bios legacy and uefi modes,
  • includes HPP's telephony GNU Jami (so it is friendlier with phones),
  • includes all necessary applications and give abilities to get more, and
  • supports education as its slogan says!
So congratulations Trisquel Developers! Once again you reach a success in software freedom and now Trisquel became freedom vehicle that is ready to bring to schools, universities, governments as well as individual computer users. I encourage you all dear readers to try Trisquel 9. Please share this to your friend!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.