Linux Distributions

A Quick Review Of Parabola Linux Distribution

a quick review at parabola linux distribution

​There is free software as in free beer and then there is software that is entirely free as in freedom (libre). These distros are ready-to-use full systems whose developers have followed the Guidelines for Free Systems Distribution as put forward by the Free Software Foundation.  

And as such, these distros do not accept NONFREE applications, drivers, firmware, games or documentation. The Free Software Foundation currently endorses nine different distributions as being truly free (libre). They are Ututo XS which was the first fully free distro recognized by the GNU project, BLAG Linux and GNU, Dragora GNU/Linux-Libre, Dynebolic, gNewSense, Guix System Distribution, Musix, Trisquel and Parabola GNU/Linux-libre. Today, we will take a look at Parabola GNU/Linux-libre.​

​Parabola is an Arch based distribution that uses only and promotes only free software (freedom to study and modify, not to be confused with freeware). In place of the generic Linux kernel, Parabola uses Linux-libre kernel instead which removes all ‘blobs’ (binary software with no source code provided) from the generic Linux kernel. The GNU Project attempts to keep Linux-libre in synchronization with the upstream development of the Linux kernel while removing any software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated, or is released under proprietary licenses.

Download and install Parabola Linux

​Existing users of Arch, Arch ARM, Antergos or Manjaro need not download the installation ISO as they can easily migrate their existing system to Parabola. The developers have provided a very handy guide over here to guide you in switching to Parabola. Just head over here and follow the instructions to convert the existing system into a one that is “free as in freedom”.New users are provided with ISO that can be burned to a disc or written to a USB using ‘dd’.  You can download the installation ISO from here.  The ISOs are available in 3 main options, the main live ISO which comes in a little less of 700MB, Talking Parabola for the blind and the visually impaired users comes with speech and braille output and then the MATE desktop ISO for those who prefer to have a desktop and some curated software out of the box which come at a whopping 2GB in size (so much for keeping it simple).

parabola linux distribution grub menu

 ​Installing Parabola is a basically a duplication of the Arch installation process and I must say is not for faint-hearted. Users are thus allowed to tailor-build their operating system to their taste with complete customization and expansion. You can go to this guide for details on setting up Parabola.

parabola live media

 ​There is also an offline guide to get you started on your installation and also provide you with some basic tips to get you going in setting up your desktop operating system.

parabola linux offline guide

 ​Alternatively, you can go with the MATE desktop option which comes with a Live environment allowing you to test run the distro before deciding to install or not, but then again, what is Parabola (Arch) without your choices and customization. The default wallpaper on the MATE desktop is quite terrible and you are definitely going to change that. The rest is the usual you would expect from a typical MATE desktop with a selection of some handy software like SMPlayer, MPC Media Player, Elinks, Iceweasel, AbiWord, Gnumeric, Octopi and a few others.

parabola desktop interface

 ​The MATE desktop option comes with an installation script on the desktop to get you started with your installation.

parabola run installation script


​If you love Arch, you’re definitely going to love Parabola so far as you can get alternatives to all the nonfree packages you use from Arch. The experience is basically the same and if you love to tinker extensively with your system, you are in luck as all the packages will have their source code available for fiddling and all. If some of your hardware do not have libre packages available, well then it might not be for you. Much like Arch, Parabola is what you make it. There is an online guide but you should know what you are about as there is little hand-holding there. Does Parabola GNU Linux/Libre interest you? Have you tried your hands on this distro? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below.

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A January 31, 2020 at 1:13 am

Dear Sohail. Thank you for writing an article about the amazing Parabola distro. Unfortunately, there are a few mistakes in your writing. In your first sentence, all free software is free software, I don’t understand the difference you want to address (maybe “there is free software as in free beer and Free software as in Freedom”?)

In your third sentence, the Free Software Foundation puts more requirements than those (e.g. the use of certain language).

In your fourth sentence, 9 desktop distros are indeed listed by the FSF, but not those. Please refer to to check them

In the first sentence of your second paragraph you only list a few of the freedoms free software gives the user, giving a false impression than those are all of them. You can check the four essential freedoms here

If this article was really written in 2019, Parabola does not offer an install medium with MATE anymore, but with LXDE. Also, the screenshots include the old wallpaper, which may draw users away from Parabola (imho here).

Finally, you do not mention that Parabola offers both systemd and openrc images, which is a great advantage for certain users.

Again, thank you for your article and I hope you can address some of these points.

Sohail February 1, 2020 at 12:18 am


First of all, thanks for commenting and letting me know the errors. I really like when people help me fix the article. I apologies for any problem occurred due to any of the error.

Now talking about the first sentence, the word beer was missing there and it has been fixed. Regarding the forth sentence, the 9 distributions that I mentioned were surely endorsed by the FSF back when I wrote this article. And you guessed it right, the article was not written in 2019, it was published in 2017 and due to the website migration from Weebly to WordPress, the process somehow updated the date of each blog post. Though I keep updating articles and the article date on top is the date when I last updated this article.

And the rest of the points you mentioned are absolutely correct and I could not cover in this article because it was written in 2017. This article is old and I will now be reviewing the latest version of Parabola linux covering all the features you mentioned above and the rest.

Thanks again!


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