Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trisquel 6.0 Review: High performing and extremely elegant! Free Software advocate or not - a definitely recommended distro for all Linux lovers!

The birth of Ubuntu is possibly, pivotal to the Linux history. Reason? Without Ubuntu, possibly we won't have heard the names of 50% distros in the Distrowatch top 100 list! You will find all kinds of Ubuntu derived distros there - mostly spiced up Ubuntu which work right out of the box with all free and non-free multimedia codecs and restricted softwares loaded in them! However, last week I came across a different kind of Ubuntu derivative which strictly uses free softwares only, as defined by the Free Software Foundation guidelines! Originally Trisquel is a Spanish distro (with English language option thankfully - otherwise the world would have missed a really wonderful distro!).

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

On free software part, possibly, I am not so emotionally attached as the developers or free software advocates. So, my review is completely focused on functionality and performance of Trisquel without getting really involved on the free-software bit. I definitely support their cause but in this review I treated Trisquel just like any other Linux distro.

I downloaded the 730 MB 32-bit ISO for this review and installed it in my Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz processor and 2 GB RAM. Gnome classic (highly tweaked!) is the default desktop environment and it comes with a very artistic theme. Specially I liked what they have done with the panel. The artwork is amazing and it is evident that the developers have paid a great deal of attention to even minute details. Default wallpaper looks good and fits to the overall theme. Also, I found quite a few other good wallpapers in Trisquel.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Normally I tweak almost every Linux distro I use - so much so that it becomes difficult to recognize originally what it was. However, I never tweaked Sabayon 11 as the default interface itself is aesthetically superb. Now I am adding Trisquel to the list.
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
I could not think of much to add to the already elegant distro. I simply added a conky lua and some cool animation to it using compiz.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Trisquel 6.0 is derived of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin and hence, the application list may not sport the most updated versions. Precise is yet to receive the updated Libreoffice or GIMP and still continuing with their stable versions. A detailed list of major applications in Trisquel is given below:
  • Office: LibreOffice 3.5 Writer, Calc, Impress & Draw, Document viewer, Dictionary
  • Internet: Abrowser, Evolution mail and calendar, Pidgin chat client, Gwibber facebook & twitter client, Liferea news reader, Remmina remote desktop client, GnomePPP, Transmission bittorrent client
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.6 photo editor, gthumb photo viewer, simple scan
  • Multimedia: Totem video player, Brasero disc writer, Ogg converter, PiTiVi video editor, Rhythmbox music player
  • Accessories: Archive manager, Calculator, Orca screen reader, Screenshot, File search, Terminal, gedit, printer manager, etc.

I noted a few things impressive in the application list. First, Abrowser - the browser with no name! Forked from Firefox, it works really well and feels lighter than Firefox. Also, Abrowser retains the plugin support of Firefox and you can easily install addons like YouTube video downloader, etc. I am pretty impressed with Abrowser from my first time use and it is definitely better than Iceweasel, another Firefox fork that comes with Debian. In Abrowser, Duckduckgo is the default search engine but Google, Bing and other options, including Twitter and Wikipedia search, are also present.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Second, I am sure Trisquel doesn't have proprietary Adobe Flashplugin but supports html5. However, it comes with Gnash SWF player, which may not be as powerful as Adobe flashplugin but capable of playing Youtube videos smoothly.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Third, I was able to play normal video files using the free video codecs in Trisquel. However, some video file formats (like mkv) may require non-free codecs and VLC player is available in the repositories for download. So, no worries there as well.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Installation is pure Ubuntu and devoid of any surprises as such. It is easy and fast and should not be a problem with even Linux novices. A few questions on location, language, keyboard, location to install and user details along with 10 minutes of wait, and bingo! You have a new OS installed.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Trisquel has a package manager GUI which can be accessed from menu. It is not as good as Ubuntu Software Center but pretty useful. Applications are clearly categorized by respective classes and easy to browse, locate and install. I saw that the repositories are actually sourced from a Trisquel FTP link which means only the free softwares are filtered out from Ubuntu repository and retained in the FTP locations. However, I faced challenges in uninstalling / removing applications through the package manager. It threw error every time I tried to remove any installed application.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

But, luckily, synaptic package manager too is present in the distro. You can access synaptic package manager from System settings option in menu. Another great thing about Synaptic package manager is that all non-free applications from Ubuntu stable are available through synaptic. The default package manager GUI of Trisquel doesn't show them.
From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

I didn't face any challenges in uninstalling applications through terminal and/or synaptic package manager. The issue is limited only to the default package manager and should not limit users from testing or using Trisquel.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

I installed compiz-settings manager and fusion icon along with my favorite apps like Skype and Chromium from Synaptic package manager without any issue. Free software advocate or not, it would bar anyone from using this beautiful distro.Any application you use in any other Ubuntu derivative, can be used here.

From Trisquel 6.0 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Trisquel impressed me with it's performance. I thought the heavily tweaked desktop environment with loaded artwork would be consuming more RAM and CPU but as it turns out, it is quite resource efficient.  At steady state with system monitor running, it took about 146 MB RAM and 1-5% CPU usage, which is very impressive.

Parameters Base Desktop CPU Usage RAM usage
GhostBSD 3.0 FreeBSD Gnome 2.32.1 1-5% 90 MB
Snowlinux 3.1 Crystal Gnome Debian Gnome 2.30.2 1-5% 122 MB
Trisquel 6.0 Ubuntu Gnome Classic 1-10% 146 MB
Snowlinux 4 Glacier Mate Debian Mate 1.4 1-5% 147 MB
Solus 1.2 Legacy Debian Gnome 2.30.2 1-5% 155 MB
Fuduntu 2013.1 Fedora Gnome 2.32.0 1-5% 162 MB
Pure OS 6 Debian Gnome 3.4.2 1-5% 165 MB
Sabayon 11 Mate Gentoo Mate 1.4.1 1-5% 174 MB
Mint 13 Debian Cinnamon/Mate Debian Mate 1.2 1-5% 190 MB
Mint 13 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.4 1-10% 200 MB
Mint 14 Mate Ubuntu Mate 1.4 1-5% 200 MB
Mint 13 Mate Ubuntu Mate 1.2 1-5% 207 MB
Mint 14 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 1-10% 221 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.4 1-10% 230 MB
Pear OS 6 Ubuntu Pear Aurora 1.0.5 1-5% 235 MB
ROSA 2012 Fresh Gnome Mandriva Gnome 3.6.2 1-10% 235 MB
Snowlinux 3 White Mate Ubuntu Mate 1.4 1-5% 240 MB
Snowlinux 3 White CInnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 1-5% 260 MB
Elementary OS Beta 1 Ubuntu Pantheon, Gnome derivative 1-5% 270 MB
LuninuX 12.10 Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 with Docky 1-5% 280 MB
Zorin 6 Core Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 1-10% 300 MB
Fedora 18 Gnome Fedora Gnome 3.6.2 1-10% 310 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome OpenSUSE Gnome 3.4.2 1-10% 310 MB
Pinguy OS 12.04 Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 1-5% 325 MB
Ubuntu 13.04RC Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.6 1-10% 325 MB
Ubuntu 12.10 Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.6 1-10% 412 MB

Purely based on performance, Trisquel ranks 1st among all Ubuntu derivatives with Gnome or Gnome forked desktops and 3rd in overall. I have compared here all 32-bit versions of the Gnome or Gnome forked distros released in 2012-2013 and these statistics are recorded on the same machine. Interestingly, Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon, one of my favorite distros, lags quite behind Trisquel in terms of performance.

Trisquel 6.0 impressed me a lot because of the sheer beauty and elegance that comes with it's impressive performance. Trisquel also comes with a very rich in-built application list and is very functional. There are some minor issues with the default package manager GUI but won't really bother you if you use synaptic or terminal to install/uninstall apps. At the end of the day it is a Ubuntu derivative and retains all the goodness that usually Ubuntu or Ubuntu derived distros offer. Definitely I rate Trisquel very high among Ubuntu derivatives and absolutely recommended for advanced users as well as Linux newbies.

Bottomline, free software or not, Trisquel is a wonderful distro worth trying. If you are looking for a Ubuntu derivative which looks simply out of the world and elegant, Trisquel is for you! Try it! You can download the 32-bit and 64-bit versions from here. 


  1. Replies
    1. It's a conky on my desktop. If you want the details of how to create a conky like that, please visit my article http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in/2012/06/conky-some-great-looking-conkies-for.html


  2. Hi Arindam,

    I had been waiting for Trisquel 6.0 Toutatis since quite long and they just kept pushing forward the release date, before finally releasing it. (May be they were thinking, better late than unfinished.) I was really going to request you to review it, if you hadn't already.

    By the way, does it have the packages for other DEs (KDE and Xfce in particular) in the repos? I really want to try Trisquel due to its fully free nature, but I've become so much attached to KDE Screen Edges and KRunner that I can't imagine life without it. Could you check this and tell me?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Darshak:

      Trisquel has KDE, XFCE, LXDE, and Openbox packages. You can download them from Synaptic package manager or terminal. As I said, Trisquel is Ubuntu only, and retains all the flexibility and goodness of Ubuntu. Even the restricted/non-free softwares are also available through synaptic.

      Hope it helps.

    2. Thank you.
      I'll get this little beast right away! :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Trisquel has KDE, LXDE and Xfce in the repos.

  4. Great review, do you have any idea if they are planning to upgrade to gnome 3.0?

    1. Trisquel 6.0 already has Gnome 3.4.2, only thing it is tweaked and in gnome fallback mode. Rest is all Gnome 3. By the by, Gnome 3 default interface really sucks!

    2. I was just about to say all this also....
      I too am impressed by this distro, which is truly based on free software. It is very similar to linux mint with cinnamon.. but without the proprietary software.. anything I ran on it, worked well. Definitely recommendable

    3. Agreed. Very elegant and good distro.

  5. Greetings Mr. Aridam. I just installed Trisquel 6.0. and I feel very fit with gnome classic. My problem is why I can not install chromium browser from synaptic package manager? I finally did install midori. I am from Indonesia. other problems, almost no

    1. Hi Andriyono:

      Chromium browser is not directly available in the LMDE repo. Best option is to add the Chromium browser daily build ppa and then install the browser. For this, please open a terminal and run the following commands:

      1. To add Chromium daily build ppa
      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily/stable
      It will ask for permission to add the ppa. Press enter when the request comes.

      2. Update the repos
      sudo apt-get update

      3. Install Chromium
      sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

      It worked for me. Please check if you are able to install Chromium browser.


  6. There is a mistake in the article please correct it. Non-free programs are not available in Trisquel, nowhere even in synaptic. You have maybe added some ppa's and forgot but that's not the same. It will be stupid to creat a distro totally free but let people install non-free programs so easily.

    1. I believe like all other Ubuntu based distros, Trisquel too sources packages from Ubuntu repos and there are no filters as far as restricted packages are concerned. Lets me check the source list tomorrow and get back on this.