Use versions of Ubuntu that are entirely Free Software

Ubuntu was created from the ground-up to respect the ethics and purpose of the Free Software movement. However, the decision was taken a few years ago to include a small quantity of proprietary software in the form of graphics and wifi drivers. This is seen as a stop-gap measure until usable open source alternatives are available. Additionally, some software—such as the Firefox web browser—is covered by trademark agreements that are more restrictive than advocates of true Free Software ideals would like.

At the present time, two projects distribute versions of Ubuntu that are completely—and strictly—Free Software. The first is GNewSense (pronounced G-new-sense) which, as its name suggests, is a project sponsored by the Free Software Foundation. An installable ISO image can be downloaded from The project's major releases tend to follow those of Ubuntu itself.

The other project is Gobuntu, which is officially supported by the Ubuntu Foundation.24 Its releases trail a little behind the official releases, however, and it presently uses the text-mode (alternate) installer, rather than the live distro installer. It can be downloaded from http://cdimage.

24. At the time of writing, it seems Gobuntu might be heading for the rocks. Mark Shuttleworth has suggested that effort should be invested in GNewSense instead., while more information can be found at

The Ubuntu install CD also includes an option that will cause the installer not to install proprietary drivers and also disable the restricted and multiverse software repositories that contain software of a non-Free nature. At the install CD boot screen, move the highlight using the cursor keys so that Install Ubuntu is selected and then hit (F^ twice. Then highlight Free Software Only on the menu that appears, again using the cursor keys. Hit [Enter], then [Esc], and finally hit [Enter] to start installation. Note that this doesn't remove software of questionable trade-marking.

You might also be interested in Tip 80, on page 138, which describes how to use the open source OpenSolaris remix of Ubuntu.

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