I heard gnewsense has no proprietary software or drivers so I thought I should give it a try. I was disappointed to see openoffice instead of libreoffice, an old version of nginx, clang, etc and missing things such as add-apt-repository, software-properties-common python-software-properties.

Is there a linux distro that has reasonably modern version of software and doesn't have a ton of commands missing?

closed as primarily opinion-based by jasonwryan, Anthon, Ramesh, slm Oct 8 '14 at 20:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Voting to close: "doesn't have a ton of commands missing" makes this subjective, ie., opinion-based... – jasonwryan Oct 8 '14 at 19:42
  • @jasonwryan Really? Number of packages available in comparison with popular distros (such as Ubuntu) is something subjective to you? – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 19:56
  • @Dmitry Define "ton". Then define "reasonably modern." Then try and work out where you would draw the line, because I guarantee it will differ from what I have in mind. – jasonwryan Oct 8 '14 at 20:29

There is the list of GNU/Linux distributions, that are considered completely free by Free Software Foundation. Besides gNewSense, it includes BLAG, Dragora, Dynebolic, Musix, Parabola, Trisquel and Ututo XS. You mentioned, you had been missed add-apt-repository, which, afaik, is from Ubuntu, so from that list you probably would be interested in Trisquel, which is basically Ubuntu cleaned from proprietary software and blobs.

But actually you can get any popular GNU distro, that keeps free and non-free well-separated from each other – Debian is one of them (install testing release at least if you want up-to-date software) – and just do not install anything non-free, do not ever enable repos containing proprietary packages: non-free and contrib for Debian.

  • In the initial edition of my answer I mentioned Ubuntu on a par with Debian as a distro that keeps free and non-free code well-separated. Unfortunately, that seems to be incorrect: while Debian indeed got rid of the binary blobs in Linux® since version 6, Ubuntu still include them according to Trisquel. Sorry for misleading. – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 19:51

You can install Debian and, besides not enabling proprietary repositores, use vrms to verify whether you have proprietary software.

Similar utilities might exist for other distros.

  • It is not that simple utility (which is essentially the same as $ aptitude search '?installed (?section(restricted) | ?section(multiverse))'), who does the work, but vigilant maintainers of distribution, who classify software. vrms is completely useless against some random software from numerous personal repos over the Web. – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 19:43