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Free GNU/Linux distributions

This page is maintained by the Free Software Foundation's Licensing and Compliance Lab. You can support our efforts by making a donation to the FSF. Have a question not answered here? Check out some of our other licensing resources or contact the Compliance Lab at licensing@fsf.org.


Introduction

This page lists the GNU/Linux distributions that are entirely free as in freedom. Non-GNU-based free system distributions are listed separately.

The Free Software Foundation recommends and endorses these GNU/Linux distros, although we do not try to judge or compare them based on any criterion other than freedom; therefore, we list them in alphabetical order.

These distros are ready-to-use full systems whose developers have made a commitment to follow the Guidelines for Free System Distributions. This means they will include, and propose, exclusively free software. They will reject nonfree applications, nonfree programming platforms, nonfree drivers, nonfree firmware “blobs”, nonfree games, and any other nonfree software, as well as nonfree manuals or documentation.

If one of these distros ever does include or propose anything nonfree, that must have happened by mistake, and the developers are committed to removing it. If you find nonfree software or documentation in one of these distributions, you can report the problem, and earn GNU Bucks, while we inform the developers so they can fix the problem.

Fixing freedom bugs is an ethical requirement for listing a distro here; therefore, we list only distros with a development team that has told us it will remove any nonfree software that might be found in them. Usually the team consists of volunteers, and they don't make legally binding commitments to users; but if we find out a distro is not properly maintained, we will de-list it.

We hope the other existing GNU/Linux distributions will become entirely free software so that we can list them here. If you wish to improve the state of free distros, helping to develop an existing free distro contributes more than starting a new one.

Please note that not all hardware works in the free world; each distro's site should say which hardware it supports. We suggest that, after reading the short descriptions below, you consult these sites as well as other available information, to judge which distro is most convenient for you.

GNU/Linux distros for PCs and workstations

The distributions that follow are installable to a computer's hard drive and/or can be run live.

Distribution Brief Description
Dragora GNU/Linux-Libre Dragora GNU/Linux-Libre, an independent GNU/Linux distribution based on concepts of simplicity.
Dyne:bolic Dyne:bolic, a GNU/Linux distribution with special emphasis on audio and video editing. This is a “static” distro, normally run from a live CD. Since it will not receive security updates, it should be used offline.
gNewSense gNewSense, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian, with sponsorship from the FSF.
guix Guix System Distribution is an advanced GNU/Linux distro built on top of GNU Guix (pronounced “geeks”), a purely functional package manager for the GNU system.
Musix GNU+Linux Musix, a GNU+Linux distribution based on Knoppix, with special emphasis on audio production. This is a “static” distro, normally run from a live CD. Since it will not receive security updates, it should be used offline.
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, a distribution based on Arch that prioritizes simple package and system management.
PureOS PureOS, a GNU distribution based on Debian with a focus on privacy, security, and convenience.
Trisquel Trisquel, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that's oriented toward small enterprises, domestic users and educational centers.
Ututo Ututo S, a GNU/Linux 100% free distribution. It was the first fully free GNU/Linux system recognized by the GNU Project.

Small GNU/Linux distros

Below is a list of small system distributions. These distributions are meant for devices with limited resources, like a wireless router for example. A free small system distribution is not self-hosting, but it must be developable and buildable on top of one of the free complete systems listed above, perhaps with the aid of free tools distributed alongside the small system distribution itself.

Distribution Brief Description
libreCMC libreCMC is an embedded GNU/Linux distro for devices with very limited resources. While primarily targeting routers, it offers support for a wide range of devices and use cases. In 2015, LibreWRT merged with libreCMC.
ProteanOS ProteanOS is a new, small, and fast distribution for embedded devices. Its platform configuration feature allows binary packages to be configured at build-time and run-time for different hardware and use cases.

How to get free GNU/Linux distros

In addition to their own sites, many of these distributions are available from mirror.fsf.org. Feel free to download or mirror the distributions from there, preferably using rsync. Free distribution maintainers can request a mirror for their project by mailing the FSF sysadmins.

Individual GNU packages (most of which are included in the free distributions here) are described separately.

We list companies that sell hardware preinstalled with a free GNU/Linux distribution separately.

See something we missed?

Do you know about a distribution that you expected to find on our list, but didn't? First, check our page about why we don't endorse some common distributions. That page explains the reasons why several well-known distributions don't meet our guidelines. If the distribution isn't listed there either, and you think it qualifies for a listing under our guidelines, then please let the distribution's maintainers know about this page and encourage them to get in touch—we'd like to hear from them.

If you maintain a distribution that follows the Free System Distribution Guidelines and would like to be listed here, please write to <webmasters@gnu.org> with an introduction and a link to the project Web site. When you do, we'll explain more about our evaluation process to you, and get started on it quickly. We look forward to hearing from you!

Historical

The distributions that follow were previously listed above, but are no longer recommended.

Distribution Brief Description Retirement Info
BLAG Linux and GNU BLAG Linux and GNU, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Fedora. Removed June 2018. Removed at the request of the maintainers, as they had stopped maintaining it.

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