Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Free Software Foundation Approved Distros

Not all software in Linux distributions necessarily is free or libre software. After all, most of us want to play MP3 files and I am as guilty of this as many. Then, some proprietary drivers are included with some of them baked into Linux kernels as well. All of this may make Linux easier to use but it will not please some. Hence, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has a list of distros satisfying their guidelines and some of these are below.


Simplicity is the apparent hallmark here.


This is a free-software-compliant multimedia distro that proves that such things can be done without the use of proprietary codecs.

Guix System

It now appears that the GNU project now has its very own Linux distro built around the Guix (pronounced “geeks”) package manager and using the Guile programming language. The website and the screenshots look swish so it might be worth trying this out for real, and there may be a version using the Hurd kernel yet, though Linux-libre is the only option for now.


This project is working with two bases: Linux-libre and BSD. The first is a derivative or Arch Linux that roots out so many non-free packages that you wonder if they might go too far. It also takes the long-term support approach so they do not have to adjust things every time something changes in Arch.


This results from the combination of two distinct projects that shared one common characteristic: use in embedded devices like routers, not for installing on PC’s. That may seem like a minority interest to me but we all have different needs.


Here, Arch also is the basis with freedom as the byword. While the basis is a rolling distro, this is a long-term support offering.


What we have here is another Linux distro that can be embedded on different devices and is kept lightweight to ensure universality.


The social purpose hardware company Purism is involved in this effort, hence the naming. The distro itself is based on Debian and appears to be intended for a range of hardware, from phones to tablets to PC’s. Naturally, ISO installation images can be downloaded as well.


Think of this as Ubuntu with only Free Software included and you have the point of this distro. Given that Richard Stallman of the FSF has been known to like it, meeting that goal seems to be assured now.


This was the first distro that the FSF rated for software freedom and hails from Argentina. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a lull in activity since 2107, so it is difficult to know if this remains viable.

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