Why SprezzOS?

From SprezzOSWiki

Why run SprezzOS as opposed to another operating system? Why was the SprezzOS Project launched? This page will try to answer those questions.

You might also want to read the Sprezzatech blog post, "Why Is SprezzOS Necessary?", which answers this question in a more freeform and personal manner.

What is SprezzOS?

  • SprezzOS is an open/free operating system distribution,
  • derived from Debian,
  • making use of the Linux kernel (later, it may also support the FreeBSD kernel),
  • and myriad userspace projects (many of them work by the GNU project),
  • produced by the SprezzOS Project's sprezzadevs (as led by the HIC),
  • sponsored by Sprezzatech.

What are the goals of the SprezzOS Project?

  • To facilitate experimentation with new technologies conceived of by the sprezzadevs.
  • To drive improvement (while avoiding fragmentation) in the Free ecosystem via competition.
  • To make available a bleeding-edge, rigorously up-to-date Debian derivative (Aptosid, among others, shares this goal).
  • To provide the premier distribution for power users (see our target audience).
  • To define a reference platform for Sprezzatech's hardware.
  • (and in the interests of full disclosure) To generate marketing exposure for Sprezzatech.

SprezzOS vs other Debian-based distributions

SprezzOS attempts to remain interoperable, and indeed largely built from the same source code, as Debian. Why run SprezzOS, then, as opposed to Debian (or one of its better known derivatives, such as Ubuntu)? SprezzOS diverges from Debian in three major ways:

Advancing Computing

When and if it becomes necessary to either most efficiently support modern, powerful machines or older, less powerful ones, SprezzOS will prefer the first option.

  • SprezzOS is not trying to make a shinier, happier planet. SprezzOS will directly improve the lives of power users.
  • SprezzOS does not make a major goal of attracting new users. SprezzOS will directly improve the lives of those users who seek it out.
  • SprezzOS does not seek consensus. SprezzOS does not believe committees the best way to make decisions. SprezzOS is united behind the HIC's impeccable taste.
    • If the HIC makes bad decisions, the Project will become irrelevant. There will be other distributions. The big world will keep on turnin'.
    • SprezzOS seeks to blaze new, bold, and indeed controversial trails in the Free ecosystem, not to attract the most users.
    • There is serenity in Chaos. SprezzOS seeks the Eye of the Hurricane.


While SprezzOS development is and will always remain open source, we understand that plenty of fine content is not. SprezzOS will support closed content when it is judged the best available solution. This means:

  • So long as it's legal for us to ship documentation, we will (no GFDL exclusion, etc)
    • We assert that no one, ever, has been pleased and satisfied to find that a package's documentation was in non-free.
  • So long as it's legal for us to ship firmware, we will (no exclusions of distributable content, etc)
  • When there is no satisfactory open source solution for a necessary component, we will ship closed source (we are not bound by the DFSG)

We passionately believe in the many societal benefits of Open Source. That said, we do not believe our users and members of the Free Software community best served by the negative reinforcement of significant holes in our distribution. We believe that Freedom of Speech and Free Access are perhaps even more important than Free Software, especially since users benefit from the former while only developers (or those with access to developers, or interest in becoming developers) directly benefit from the latter. This is debatable ad nauseam, but the right forum for this debate is not among the SprezzOS fora. If you want a DFSG-bound distribution, run one.


SprezzOS considers aesthetics of both technology's presentation and its implementation to be of paramount importance.

  • This is kind of ironic, since this wiki is ugly as hell.
  • Bad taste, judged in the eye of the SprezzOS community and ultimately the HIC, is sufficient reason to exclude content from the Project.
  • Some might call this Führerprinzip; we prefer "divine right of HICs."

The "SprezzOS Manifeso" might provide some illumination into our motives.

Debian-based vs other Linux distributions

This can probably be better answered by the Debian Project's documentation:

In the Founder's opinion, having used Linux for 13 years and Debian for 11 years prior to launching the Project, Debian's APT provides the sanest way to manage software packages, the source used to build them, and their dependencies. Furthermore, their procedures were the most sensible, and their developer base the most technically elite.

Linux Matrix

This matrix attempts to be neither exhaustive nor authoritative. I have not included "Linux-from-Scratch" setups.

Distribution Packaging Derivative of Package browser
Debian Unstable .deb N/A http://packages.debian.org/unstable/
Debian Stable .deb Debian Unstable http://packages.debian.org/stable/
Ubuntu .deb Debian http://packages.ubuntu.com/
Mint .deb Ubuntu http://packages.linuxmint.com/
Knoppix .deb Debian http://debian-knoppix.alioth.debian.org/
RedHat Fedora .rpm N/A https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb
RedHat Enterprise .rpm RedHat Fedora
CentOS .rpm RedHat Enterprise
Arch Linux .pac N/A https://www.archlinux.org/packages/
openSUSE .rpm N/A http://en.opensuse.org/Package_repositories
Gentoo ports N/A http://packages.gentoo.org/
Slackware .tgz N/A http://packages.slackware.com/
SprezzOS deb Debian Unstable
  • The most basic form of package management is Slackware's slackpkg, which doesn't manage dependencies (third-party utilities do apparently support dependencies).
    • I consider this wholly unacceptable.
    • As my friend Jason Lunz told me many years ago, "Slackware means slack for the project managers, not for people who install it."
  • Gentoo uses a FreeBSD-like "ports" system. This allows tremendous configuration, at the cost of extra compilation. It's rare to see Gentoo explicitly supported by third-party software.
  • I've never understood the point of openSUSE, nor any other SUSE.
    • Germans seem to like it, which I feel speaks well of SUSE and poorly of Germans.
  • I eschew Arch Linux because no one needed a new package format, thank you very much.
  • CentOS is a freely-distributed rebuild of RedHat Enterprise Linux.
  • RedHat Enterprise Linux is probably the primary target of third-party developers, and has some of the strongest commercial support behind it.
  • Fedora is the bleeding-edge RedHat from which RHEL is derived.
  • Knoppix is designed to be run from CDs and USB sticks. It was the first major "Live CD", but everyone can do this now.
  • Mint seems basically an Ubuntu with explicit support for non-free software.
    • Perhaps it ought be called "Painted Whore Linux"
    • Last time I checked, it also installed an apt wrapper into /usr/local/bin.
      • At this point, I lost most of my interest in Painted Whore Linux.
  • Ubuntu is Debian with a more rapid release cycle, a much larger user base, and commerical backing from Canonical.
  • Debian is pretty good. A bit slow to change, somewhat policy-heavy, and (some would say) overly concerned with machine-readable copyright files.

Packages of various APT systems can be compared here.

Open vs Closed Software

Closed software is that burdened by restrictive licensing, including but not limited to:

  • Unavailability of source
  • Costs associated with acquisition or use
  • Restrictions on modification or redistribution of source

The Debian Project's documentation is worth consulting:


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