Trisquel Linux is one of those computer basics that you wish you had known much sooner. This Linux distro has literally been around for years and is extremely polished.
Trisquel GNU / Linux is based on Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS (Bionic Beaver) but ships with the Linux-Libre kernel using Ubuntu kernel 4.15. It shouldn’t matter to newcomers or seasoned Linux users.
But if you are motivated by the notion of purity in free software, you may need to pause to think about where you want to straddle the line. This problem is a war cry for some Linux users, as is their choice, for example, Debian vs. Arch or any other Linux family.
Unlike the Debian Linux kernel, the Linux-Free kernel by its design lacks nonfree firmware. It also prevents users from loading nonfree firmware even if they want to. This is a major sticking point with the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which endorsed Linux-Libre for its commitment to truly free software standards.
Defining what constitutes true free software is a technical matter. Both kernels are free software, but the FSF disputes the inclusion by the Debian GNU / Linux distribution of non-free repositories on the same infrastructure.
For clarity, users of distributions running the Debian Linux kernel do not pay for firmware or software from distribution download repositories. Developers face these costs. Trisquel is one of the few Linux distributions approved by the Free Software Foundation.
So technically users are riding for free anyway. The Spain-based Trisquel project is 100% free to download and use. It is managed by independent developers and is partially funded by donations.
Trisquel offers a family of Linux editions that meet or exceed the needs of home users, small businesses and educational centers. Trisquel can also be an ideal platform for multimedia workstations.
Unpack Trisquel 9
Version 9 took significantly longer to reach download servers than previous editions. Version 8 arrived on April 18, 2018. The developers released version 9 on October 19, 2020.
This latest version, named Etiona, follows the cast’s tradition of naming new versions of Celtic mythology.
Trisquel’s default web browser is Abrowser. It is a version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser that treats user freedom and privacy more strictly than the most common choices. This browser has received a major update, based on Firefox 81.
Much like the distinction noted in the kernel controversy, Trisquel only provides unlicensed software packages. This is not a problem for typical users without specific needs.
This distro comes with the Pidgin IM, LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Transmission BitTorrent client, Electrum Bitcoin wallet, VLC media player, Rhythmbox music player, Icedove email client, Liferea RSS client and many other utilities. Just be aware that the complete software inventory is not identical in the three editions of Trisques. Some titles are only offered in a particular desktop environment.
Trisquel Linux is available in four versions. You get a default version, a more feature-rich offering, an educational edition, and a more basic version for netbooks.
No new GNOME, but MATE instead
The main edition of Trisquel runs a custom MATE desktop environment. The MATE edition is a definite starting point for anyone new to the Linux operating system or for users who want a typical standard Linux computing platform.
Generally, MATE is aligned with the look and feel of the classic GNOME 2 desktop. This modified version is more modern and comfortable to sail.
The MATE edition is loaded with fully functional applications such as LibreOffice, GIMP, and the MATE suite of system tools and accessory programs.
The MATE edition of Trisquel is an ideal choice for fully functional computing with an easy to use desktop environment with many features.
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The MATE edition is intended for home and business use, but is also great for productivity, entertainment, and networking.
Triskel, not Trisquel
The Triskel Edition (same pronunciation with slightly different spelling) runs a custom KDE Plasma desktop. It has the same look and feel as the MATE edition but with a more sophisticated desktop environment.
You also get a slightly different selection of some standard software based on the KDE package family. It is designed to run on modern, resource-rich hardware just like the MATE desktop version.
Trisquel’s modified KDE environment reduces plasma complexity without sacrificing high-level functionality.
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For those who are not familiar with KDE or MATE, the user experience is easy to learn. They both look alike thanks to the unified tweaks built into the design of Trisquel Linux. The KDE desktop, however, offers many features and navigation tips not available in the MATE edition.
Sugar Release makes computing spicy for kids
Trisquel Sugar TOAST is a flavorful version designed for younger palates. Based on the Sugar learning platform, it offers young people and high school students a set of basic computer tools for daily tasks, as well as an intuitive and attractive design for the intended users.
Sugarizer UI is the Linux desktop environment used in this release of TOAST. Sugar is a learning platform for children developed for the One Laptop per Child project. It has its own standalone Linux distribution and is used by over two million children around the world every day.
When this edit loads, you select the user’s education level using a slide bar on the home screen. Toast loads grade-level apps and content.
Much of the material is discovery-based and offers a wide range of learning content. Tap a button in the upper right corner to see a full screen display of programs by name and icon.
Trisquesl’s sugar-based TOAST edition brings a fun and powerful learning platform coupled with tools for children to perform daily computer tasks.
The Linux version of Trisquel used in the TOAST edition is a much newer version which is refined to fit the standards of developer Trisquel. If you share the home schooling duties imposed by the pandemic, or just want to expose your children to an alternative method of computer learning, the TOAST Edition has a lot of potential to meet your needs.
A soft alternative made more modern
I first came into contact with the Sugar Youth Learning Alternative a few years ago when I was presenting Linux-based computing for a collection of older computers for a community learning center.
The Sugar platform is not as well known in the United States, but the alternative approach to computer-assisted learning is very popular elsewhere in the world.
If you are interested in a more in-depth assessment, check out my review here.
Ideal for netbooks
Trisquel Mini is your choice for solid performance on netbooks and older computers with limited resources. It runs a customized version of the LXDE desktop, which is one of Linux’s best-known lightweight yet powerful desktop environments.
Despite its lightweight design, you can count on the Mini Edition’s ability to deliver a satisfying and productive user experience. It gave new life to my older computers.
Nothing is insignificant about the performance capability of the Trisquel Mini Edition for netbooks and low power computers.
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Much of the core software packages are well-established lightweight offerings used in many Linux operating systems. For example, AbiWord is included instead of KWrite or LibreOffice, and the web browser is Midori.
At the end of the line
Trisquel is available as a live / installable ISO image that can be run from a CD / DVD or be used to load a USB stick with data persistence. This combination does not always work well.
However, Trisquel performs well whether installed on an old computer or on specs rich in RAM and a fast processor. The persistence feature allows you to save additional software, system configurations, and user data to the USB device if you choose not to install Trisquel on a hard drive.
All four editions of Trisquel give you hassle-free options that are not limited by hardware or user inexperience. It also works on 32-bit machines. It starts automatically if you just turn it on. It has a world language selector on startup.
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