I would like to ask if anyone has tried using any 100% free software distro as server OS. Either directly on hardware or through a virtual machine. What where the most important shortcomings? I came across trisquel, ututo and parabola distributions, yet they come with GUIs pre-installed and they didn't seem server oriented at all.
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First, you can remove the GUI from any distro by removing the adequate packages.
While I never tried them for this purpose, as far as I can see the problems you could have by using a 100% free-software distro are:
- those distros might not have a community as big as Debian/Ubuntu or they might not have long support cycles (desirable for servers) like RHEL/CentOS/Debian stable.
- proprietary firmware (needed e.g. for some network cards).
Do you mean free as in beer or free as in speech? The vast majority of distros are free (beer) in that you can download them directly at no cost. Free (speech) distros do not contain proprietary software/codecs/drivers/etc., and depending on the configuration of your hardware you may be able to do just fine with one of them. I haven't checked out the ones you mentioned, and for a first-time install I'd stick with a major one like Debian, CentOS, Fedora or similar. Check out DistroWatch for a good list.