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FSF Issues GNU/Linux Name FAQ

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  • by gupg (58086) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:54AM (#4327775) Homepage
    Why are they so desperate for taking some of the fame and credit for Linux ? Its like a someone with an inferiority complex trying to say, oh, I had some thing to do this with - as a matter of fact, this should be named after me.

    If the people who work on Linux want to, they will rename it to GNU/Linux - the FSF can't just impose a name on them and expect everyone to accept it.

  • "GNU/Linux" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drdanny_orig (585847) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:56AM (#4327785)
    *yawn*
  • What's in a name? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:57AM (#4327793) Homepage
    Hell, a lot of people ask what type of Linux you work with: Red Hat, SuSe, etc. Those aren't types of Linux (the kernel). Linus gave full credit to GNU when he posted his original Linux Usenet message, stating that he has been working on getting all the GNU tools to run on his kernel. Linux is just the kernel, and there are no GNU tools in there. Linux as a full OS with support software sure uses GNU software, and all the distros I know package GNU tools with their copy of the Linux kernel, but that is far from GNU/Linux.

  • You know, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gannoc (210256) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:57AM (#4327799)
    Great. Some suit in my company is going to read this, and its going to be yet another reason I can't convince us to switch to Linux.

    Things like that make choosing a technological solution seem more like dedicating to a religion.

    Linux would be a BETTER solution for us, but they're scared that someday they'll get a phone call from someone who writes FAQs like that saying that we're now legally obligated to give all our profits to the FSF.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:58AM (#4327815)
    Where in the GPL does it say:
    If you include this and this much of these programs in your operating system, you have to call it GNU/something ?

    Thank you for writing all the stuff, we acknowledge you in the copyright statement, and many other places. But we'll call it whatever we like.

  • by Pave Low (566880) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:59AM (#4327820) Journal
    The FSF are not the language police. You can suggest we call a horse a fish, but people will not respond. Likewise, this is just as silly. They act like they dont know what you're talking about when you say "Linux" when it's quite obvious they do. It's a political battle for them, and they lost a long long time ago.

    Time to call them out on this newspeak.

  • Say It! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:59AM (#4327822) Homepage Journal
    With all of the folks out there trying to change Linux into just another SCO, placing NDAs on it, and in general simply not understanding what the advantage of free software is, it's time for you to reverse the trend. Say it! GNU/Linux. Be part of the soultion.

    Bruce

  • by astrashe (7452) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:00PM (#4327830) Journal
    This seemed over the top to me:

    Linus publicly states his disagreement with the free software movement's ideals. He develops non-free software, and even obliges fellow developers of Linux to use non-free software to work on it with him. He goes even further, and rebukes anyone who suggests that engineers and scientists should consider social consequences of our technical work--rejecting the lessons society learned from the development of the atom bomb.

  • by Dick Click (166230) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:00PM (#4327842)
    It seems to me that whoever chose the recursive acronym GNU did so as a joke. I treat it as such. If when the USA was formed, the founding fathers decided to call it "WNE" (WNE's not England), everybody would have called it (and still call it) something else.
    The work the GNU folks does is awesome. Too bad about the name. I'm not likely to call it that, even after reading the FAQ.
  • Are they? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jakuaii (410193) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:00PM (#4327843) Homepage Journal
    Citing the first two sentences from the page:
    When people see that we use and recommend the name GNU/Linux for a system that many others call just "Linux", they ask many questions. Here are common questions, and our answers.

    Now, I wouldn't exactly call that desperate, especially when most of the basic OS utilities (compiler!) are GNU...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:02PM (#4327865)
    Here is the source of a tribute site devoted to his goat fucking prowess:
    [geocities.com]
    <html>
    <head>
    <title>StallmAnus</title>
    </head>
    <body>
    <center>
    <img src="stallman.jpg">
    <p>
    <h1>
    "I am a goat fucker!" -Richard Stallman, 1994
    </h1>
    <p>
    A bit of MIT/LCS lore here.
    <p>
    RMS used to live on the 7th floor of LCS. That's where he used to have his office before he resigned in protest over the commercialization of something or another. But they let him keep his office, and he lives there, because he refuses to have an apartment. (Given the rent rates in Cambridge, the assholeness of most landlords, I don't blame him. Rather than live in my office, I chose to move to Texas, and the change in rent rates and lack of state income tax resulted in an immediate %25 pay raise. RMS doesn't have that option because we have the death penalty for people like him down here.)
    <p>

    Anyway, RMS has or had a number or geek chick groupies. I wouldn't call any of the ones I've seen "hot", really -- well except for this one little psycho jewish undergrad from NYC. He would sleep with them on the sofa in his office. That's why he got kicked out off floor 7, and down to the 3 floor, is that the cleaning staff complained about pulling used condoms out from behind the sofas. No joke. You can use this information for trolling if you wish, but it's all true.
    <p>
    RMS has a phobia of water that prevents him from showering. This is part of this post I know from first hand experience, because I myself have observed him taking a sponge bath in the 3d floor mens room in LCS. Apparently once he had a girlfriend who he was totally in love with, and she convinced him to take one shower a week. It was a traumatic experience for him each time.
    <p>
    RMS also has a phobia of spider plants. When RMS starts bothering a grad student and going to his office and talking to him constantly and getting him to spend all his time writing free software, the grad student will complain to someone on the floor, and they'll let them in on the secrete -- get a spider plant in your office. The next time RMS drops by, his eyes will bulge a little and he'll say " Umm. . . I wanted to talk to you about hacking some elisp code . . . why don't you stop by my office sometime ?" and make a hasty exit.
    <p>
    One of his more nasty habits is picking huge flakes of dandruff out of his hair while talking to you. At least he doesn't eat them, like some people I know.
    <p>
    Now, I know everyone loves to make fun of RMS, and I'm feeding that a bit here, so I'd just like to say that I think he really is a genius, on the order of Socrates (another filthy slob who couldn't keep a normal living arrangement, and lived in a barrel) or Ghandi or Ezekiel. Everything he has ever said to me, while sounding naive and idealistic and stupid at the time, turned out to later be correct.
    <p>
    The only thing I fear in his philosophy is his interest in reducing population growth. Everyone else I know of who was obsessed with that "problem" turned out to have facist or totolitarian tendencies, and I think that the problem will solve itself as more and more of the world moves into a middle class type existence.
    <p>
    But on everything else, bitter experiences have taught me he is right. I will not use any non-GPLd or lGPLd software, and I look forward to being able to buy only "open" hardware. I would like to see software patents completely eliminated, and with the development of digitial communication, I see no reason why shouldn't simply repeal all of Title 17 and do away with all copyrights. They just aren't needed. I expect to spend much of my life being paid to write software, and I just don't see copyrights has helping me in anyway.
    <p>
    <h3>
    <a href="mailto:adamtrowe@hotmail.com">Feedback</a&gt ;

    </body>
    </html>
  • by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:03PM (#4327883) Homepage Journal
    1: because Linus does
    2: Because Linus succeeded where GNU failed
    3: Because GNU/Linux is too damn long to say
    4: Because I don't call programs made/depending on MS Visual Studio 6 "MSVS/[program name]"
    5: and finally, because Linux is common usage as the name of the OS. This is like trying to force the metric system on me when everything around me right down to my car's odometer is in miles. Let Stallman seethe in his jealous corner...I respect what he's done in creating the FSF, but that doesnt make me want to pander to his ego.
  • by (void*) (113680) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:05PM (#4327912)
    I don't understand why people keep attributing motives and emotions to an organization like the FSF. FSF wrote a lot of GNU tools like gzip, sed, cat. They consciously set out to duplicate each and every piece of the software on Unix, whether it was glamorous work or not.


    Now that they've done it, I have no problems giving them a little credit by typiing GNU/Linux, but still using "Lih-nooks" conversationally. Why is spelling things this way hard? It would be hard to write an emacs Macro that inserted "GNU" everytime one typed "Linux".


    Heck, if one think this is petty, then it's even pettier to complain about the pettiness. (And I know what I just did: complain about your pettiness. So there!)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:08PM (#4327949)
    YOu should be stoned and whipped publicly!
  • by Enry (630) <enry AT wayga DOT net> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:09PM (#4327960) Journal
    As I've said for years, Linus makes a better posterboy (my words) than RMS does. He's not a raving gun nut and he gets his hair combed and showers regularly. People can have a conversation with him and not get spit on as a result.

    RMS is jealous of this. It's obvious. He worked for years and years, living in his office to make GNU work. Then along comes this kid who in 10 years does what he couldn't do in almost 20 - write a kernel that took advantage of all the applications. We (the Linux community) have never denied the credit to which GNU is owed. Without GNU, Linux would either be using BSD tools, or be about 5 years behind in its development.

    HOWEVER, changing the name is just absurd, and it's a ploy from the FSF to get name recognition without shooting spittle across the room.
  • Re:Unpronouncable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:09PM (#4327969)
    to pronounce GNU -> sounds like "new"
    Wrong. Come on, this is on the front page of www.gnu.org:
    GNU is a recursive acronym for ``GNU's Not Unix''; it is pronounced "guh-NEW".
  • by Suppafly (179830) <<slashdot> <at> <suppafly.net>> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:13PM (#4328021)
    This system is basically a version of the GNU system, modified to use the kernel Linux. We started developing the system in 1984, years before Linus Torvalds got involved, and we also wrote the largest part of the code. In fairness, we ought to get equal mention.

    Yeh, except without Linus Torvalds, there wouldn't be a kernel and then the gnu project would just be a lot of gpl clones of things you already can get for free from the various bsd projects.
  • by einer (459199) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:14PM (#4328028) Journal
    When we ask people to say "GNU/Linux", we are not dividing people. We are asking them to give the GNU Project credit for the GNU operating system. This does not criticize anyone or push anyone away.

    However, there are people who do not like our saying this. Sometimes those people push us away in response. On occasion they are so rude that one wonders if they are intentionally trying to intimidate us into silence. It doesn't silence us, but it does tend to divide the community, so we hope you can convince them to stop.


    So, because I think it's silly of you to try to foist your preferences about what I call *MY* operating system, I'm dividing the community? The defensive posture of this argument leads me to believe that there is indeed a modicum of glory seeking and anger at not being 'recognized' enough. Maybe everyone who's had a patch accepted on LKML can petition to have their names added to Linux...

    Goldstein/Miller/Hansen/Bohling/Michaels/Jeffers on /Chin/.../GNU/Linux

    Has a nice ring to it.

    Politics, Pop Culture, Music and smart people telling me I'm wrong [einer.org].
  • Re:You know, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tempest303 (259600) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [nostunksnej]> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:15PM (#4328038) Homepage
    Linux would be a BETTER solution for us, but they're scared that someday they'll get a phone call from someone who writes FAQs like that saying that we're now legally obligated to give all our profits to the FSF.

    If the suits in your company are that, uh... "slow", you have more immediate problems than operating systems, my friend. ;-)
  • by Reality Master 101 (179095) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <101retsaMytilaeR>> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:16PM (#4328055) Homepage Journal

    However, there are people who do not like our saying this. Sometimes those people push us away in response. On occasion they are so rude that one wonders if they are intentionally trying to intimidate us into silence. It doesn't silence us, but it does tend to divide the community, so we hope you can convince them to stop.

    If this isn't evidence of Stallman's mental illness, I don't know what is. Oh, the problem isn't with us, it's with everyone else. We insist that people use this ludicrous name that no one can cleanly pronounce, and if anyone disagrees, clearly they are dividing the community.

    In other words, "if everyone would just agree with us, then there would be no disagreement". Well, no shit.

    Stallman, how about this: you call it whatever you want. And how about respecting other people's decision on what they want to call it, and stop notoriously refusing to talk to anyone who disagrees with you.

  • Re:Say It! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Christianfreak (100697) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:17PM (#4328075) Homepage Journal
    Normally I agree with what you say Bruce but in this case no.

    No one knows (i.e. the general public or pointy haired bosses) what 'GNU' means anyway and I think its just going to become more of problem as people get confused thinking it's another distro or something.

    The solution in this case is to stop this stupid holy war. We have the DMCA, Palladium, and Microsoft to worry about, we don't need to fight amongst ourselves about a name and we need to ignore the select few that are trying to take credit for Linux at the expense of the thousands of people who work on it.

    NDAs won't happen as long as the GPL stands up in court. If it doesn't then saying GNU a million times before you say Linux isn't going to stop companies from taking the code.
  • by Wee (17189) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:19PM (#4328089)
    Say it! GNU/Linux. Be part of the soultion.

    But what about everything else that I use on my box? Sure, I use the GNU utils and libs and compiler along with the Linux kernel, but I also use XFree86 as well. In fact, I'd be willing to wager that on my personal desktop machines, what get the most "workout" is X. So why disparage the generous contibution they've made by leaving them out? Now I use an OS called XFree86/GNU/Linux.

    But why stop there? I also use KDE extensively. That's in the user's face a lot as well. It's what everyone sees. What a newbie might think is the OS. Why leave them out? My dekstop machines wouldn't be very useful to me without KDE (or any other WM). So now I need KDE/XFree86/GNU/Linux.

    I use "The Computers Formally Known As Red Hat and Gentoo" for servers as well. That's a web server and a database typically. I even run these on my "workstations" as low-end test machines. I couldn't get on without Apache and MySQL (and/or PostgreSQL, but we'll simplify). So I need to call it MySQL/Apache/XFree86/GNU/Linux.

    Oh wait. Perl and PHP. I can't forget those. Perl/PHP/MySQL/Apache/XFree86/GNU/Linux is what I call my OS now. What about the work Red Hat nas put into my desktop OS? I should mention them as well...

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

    Ok, so that's all more than slightly contrived. But it illustrates a point: where does one stop with the attributions? I realize that most of the heavy lifting is done by the wonderful work the GNU people have done, and I know that 'Linux' wouldn't be where it is today without all that stuff. But are the GNU utils the tail or the dog? Which wags which? Without the Linux kernel, I couldn't use the "OS". I can use gcc on Solaris, but I can't use the Linux kernel there. Is everything in /bin in "user space", or is it more "core"? Will the kernel work without the GNU stuff? Is the kernel the OS, or are the utils the OS? Does kernel32 or command.com makes Windows the "Windows OS"?

    My point is that everything's resting on the kernel. The kernel is called Linux. It's a simple name, with recognition. It's in use. It works. I'm afraid in this case, instead of being part of the solution I'm going to have to remain part of the precipitate.

    -B

  • Just go AWAY (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nagora (177841) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:19PM (#4328096)
    For god's sake, who thinks these are frequently asked questions.

    Linux is the OS and the user may or may not run GNU software on it. With KDE and OpenOffice there are many users who never see a GNU program from one day to the next. Redefining the term "Operating System" to include the programs RMS likes to use is not a valid argument.

    I wish RMS would just piss off now, he's become counter-productive to the whole free-software movement and seems to exist solely for the purpose of making it look bad.

    TWW

  • by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:20PM (#4328103) Journal
    When I hear, "preaching to the choir," I think you're talking about trying to convince people who already agree with you. I don't think that's what's happening here at all.

    I think there's probably one guy in the world who agrees with everything on the gnu.org web site. And I don't have to tell you who he is.

    This FAQ isn't preaching to the choir. It's preaching to a bunch of people who (1) don't really care, and who (2) don't like to be preached to. It's preaching to the cannibals.
  • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:20PM (#4328106)
    Because Linus succeeded where GNU failed

    Excuse me? How exactly did GNU fail? Look at what they have created.

    From the FAQ:
    We developed programs such as GCC, GNU Emacs, GAS, GLIBC, BASH, etc., because we needed them for the GNU operating system. GCC, the GNU Compiler Collection is the compiler that we wrote for the GNU operating system. We developed Ghostscript, GNUCash, GNU Chess and GNOME for the GNU system too.

    If that is failure, I hope to fail someday.

    To the point of the FAQ, I agree with pretty much everything that is pointed out. It SHOULD be called GNU/Linux, technically. But unfortunately, words change meanings and it doesn't seem that there is much you can do about it. Hackers used to be considered a good thing, now you can get jailed for it (even though it is technically cracking). Pirates used to murder and plunder, but now it someone who listens to MP3s or forwards over commercials on their TiVO.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:21PM (#4328117) Homepage
    I think this "desperation" has something to do with what you are saying. They didn't "have something to do with it" they are the "people who work on 'Linux'". When someone installs Linux (usually) the vast majority of the code they are getting was written by people who have nothing to do with Linux (and most of that contributed by the FSF)
  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@NosPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:23PM (#4328144) Homepage Journal
    Distributions -- like Debian, Redhat, Suse, etc etc -- which use predominantly GNU-software along with Linus' GPL'ed Linux kernel should be called "Distro GNU-Linux"; i.e., Debian officially calls itself "Debian GNU/Linux". This makes sense, because Debian is composed mainly of two parts: the Linux kernel, and the GNU software. Hence GNU/Linux. Duh.

    However, the Linux kernel itself was made by Linus, not the GNU/FSF. Though Linus licensed Linux under the GPL, that doesn't mean that he should call it GNU/Linux or GPL/Linux. There's no reason to call every piece of software licensed unde rthe GPL GPL/Software. Hence, there is no reason why Linux itself should be called "GNU/Linux". Just call it Linux.

    There is also no good reason why Linux in general (in reference to the many distributions of it, not the kernel), should be called GNU/Linux. Not all Linux distributions use mainly GNU software. Most do, and those distributions should be called, "Distribution GNU/Linux" to indicate that they are mainly composed of GNU software and Linux. Those that don't, however, shouldn't.

    Also, note that RMS is not forcing anyone to do anything. He's simply saying why he thinks Linux (in reference to the distributions in general) should be called GNU/Linux. I disagree with him, but that hardly makes him the language police.
  • Re:misnomer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:24PM (#4328154)

    One question I've seen before, but not answered here is the one that goes:

    According to this: Original RMS post announcing the GNU project [google.com]

    Wouldn't a GNU OS need to "...be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to write and run C programs..."?

    Since the Linux kernel is copyrighted by "me [Linus Torvalds] and others who actually wrote it.", wouldn't it rightfully not be the incarnation of the GNU project as envisioned by RMS nearly 19 years ago. Mach + the GNU tools, sure, but not Linux + the GNU tools.

    Riddle me that.

  • by rseuhs (322520) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:25PM (#4328176)
    It's pretty simple:

    Every Linux system is a GNU/Linux system, therefore the "GNU/" part is 100% redundant and will be dropped. It just doesn't matter how much the FSF will fight against it, people will shorten it to just "Linux".

  • by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:28PM (#4328203) Journal
    In this RMS is being precise.

    In this RMS is being arrogant and bossy. It wears thin, you know?

    It reminds me of young doctors-- my girlfriend is a surgery resident-- who introduce themselves as "Dr. So-n-so," and who make it clear that they prefer to be called "Dr." I'm all for tokens of respect. I'm one of the few people I know who still uses the honorific "Mr.," and I usually am quick with the "sir" or "ma'am." But when somebody asks me to call him by his honorific, that just rubs me the wrong way.

    People are going to call you what they want to call you. Some of them will call you "Mr. Stallman." Some will call you "Richard." Some will call you "Rich." Some will call you "asshole." Asking people-- "Would you please call me 'Mr. Stallman?'"-- is one thing, arrogant and rude but tolerable. Telling people what to call you-- "Call me 'Mr. Stallman.' Here's a lengthy explanation, in political and economic terms, of why."-- is really crossing the line.
  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:28PM (#4328206) Homepage Journal
    Hey, thanks for asking a question that is specifically answered in the FAQ.

    My day isn't complete until I read a post that took longer to write that it would have taken to actually read the linked article, and never would have been written if the poster had done so.

    Thanks again.

    -Peter
  • by weave (48069) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:29PM (#4328215) Journal
    The BSD license *used* to mandate that everytime any of it was used, the program or derivitive had to give credit, as in "Portions copyright regents of california" or something like that.

    Stallman thought that was ridiculous at the time, and predicted if everyone wanted that, whenever an OS booted, it'd be filling the screen with mostly copyright and credit notices. Whenever a press release or advertisement went out, there'd be pages of "portions copyrighted" credits included.

    So he worked with the Berkley folks and got them to drop the credit requirement from the license.

    So this GNU thing to me sounds kind of like the same thing, although the FAQ does state that they are not going to insist on it by making it part of the GPL.

    However, and we should all remember, there would be no Linux today without the GNU software. Maybe you guys are too young to remember, but back about 12 years ago, the only way you could get Unix on a PC was shell out thousands of dollars for Interactive Unix or AT&T or $99 for Mark Williams Unix which used the intel small memory model (ram was limited to 64K, yes 64K). BSD was around, of course, but who could afford the money for a Sun box?

    GNUs downfall was they started coding from the top down, as in, all utilities, compilers, and editors, and left the kernel to last. Then Linus comes along, does the kernel, throws a lot of gnu stuff on top, done.

    Not to belittle Linus, of course, but all of this was a joint effort and we should not be so quick to forget the efforts of everyone who contributed to the GNU project for the past almost 20 years...

  • by l-ascorbic (200822) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:31PM (#4328249)

    From the FAQ:

    Since many people call it "Linux", doesn't that make it right?

    We don't think that the popularity of an error makes it the truth.

    I think history has shown that English-speakers ignore those who try to tell them to change the way they speak. Linguistic changes are evolutionary, and often enough people making an "error" does make it right. This, however, is not an example of that. Since it was created, it has been called Linux. The FSF has come along after the fact and tried to enforce their ideology with a name change. Aside from their case's merits (or lack of), if people don't want to use a new term, no amount of whining will change that. Give up already.

  • by Stephen VanDahm (88206) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:33PM (#4328269) Homepage
    And it's their own fault that no one refers to the GNU project by name. GNU is a stupid-sounding name to begin with, and their made-up pronunciation (Guh-New) is counterintuitive and only makes their name even less attractive. I deeply respect the work that the FSF has done, and I have nothing but praise for the actual software they've written. But the fact is that if you want to sell your product, it really helps to have a cool name for it, or at least not a stupid name.

    "Linux" is a great name. It sounds fast and high tech. When you attach "Guh-New" to the front, it loses its sex appeal. Geeks night not care, but when you're pitching Linux to your PHB (or your PHB's PHB), these trivial cosmetic things matter.

    It's not just the FSF -- many free software projects have totally brain-dead names. Like the GIMP. The GIMP is an awesome product, and many of the K12 schools that spend a zillion dollars for a single copy of Photoshop that everyone has to share could outfit their entire computer lab with the GIMP for free. But as soon as the teacher walks into the classroom and says, "All right kids, let's fire up the GIMP..." every kid in the room who's seen Pulp Fiction is going to burst out laughing. Then parents might get pissed because it isn't politically correct to have a program named "GIMP" loaded on school computers. Advocates of Free Software in the classroom would do the world a great service if they repackaged the GIMP and gave it a new, school-safe name.

    Free Software developers need to start thinking about more than just making cool-ass software. They need to think about how they want to present their software to the public. If they don't start thinking about their images, Free Software will never break out of the server room.

    Steev
  • by MSG (12810) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:35PM (#4328283)
    1: because Linus does

    The FSF FAQ covers this point here:
    http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html#h elplinu s

    Generally, the FSF and likeminded people aren't much interesed in Linus' opinion of what the OS is called; his motivations don't reflect those of the Free Software movement.

    In other words: Who cares what Linus calls the OS? Even smart people can be wrong.

    2: Because Linus succeeded where GNU failed

    What the .. are you talking about? I fail to see either where GNU "failed" or Linus succeeded withough them. GNU has a reputation for providing a highly reliable OS that provides it users with freedoms not available with other OS's.

    3: Because GNU/Linux is too damn long to say

    So is Windows 2000 or Mac OS X, but they're the proper names.

    I'd be willing to bet that you don't call Mac OS X "Mach", though that's the kernel it uses, and is a shorter name.

    4: Because I don't call programs made/depending on MS Visual Studio 6 "MSVS/[program name]"

    The GNU part of the name isn't in there because Linux is compiled by GNU tools... It's there because Linux is a kernel and that's it. Linux is not a UNIX-like OS. GNU/Linux is.
  • by daoine (123140) <moruadh1013@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:36PM (#4328309)
    Linus publicly states his disagreement with the free software movement's ideals. He develops non-free software, and even obliges fellow developers of Linux to use non-free software to work on it with him. He goes even further, and rebukes anyone who suggests that engineers and scientists should consider social consequences of our technical work--rejecting the lessons society learned from the development of the atom bomb.

    Frighteningly enough, this part of the FAQ sounds like FUD to me. This particular part was listed under the "make Linus the Posterboy" question. I think it was poorly and immaturely answered. It would be both simple and reasonable to take the first two sentences about how Linus disagrees with FSF and believes in writing non-free software, and then tack on a "we don't think he really fits the model of what we stand for." and leave it at that.

    However, this atom bomb jab is really quite out of place. There are many people in the world who consider the technical over the social consequences -- this is how both good *and* bad things are developed. Did anyone *really* think about the social consequences of the telephone? The car? Both of these things are responsible for society as we know it -- I doubt the inventors could even think that far if they tried.

    Associating Linus with the development of the atom bomb is basically pointing a finger and saying "He's bad. We're going to associate him with something bad so you believe us instead." It discredits any real argument they have.

    (and why was the parent modded troll?? rtfa...)

  • petty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phataud[ ]org ['io.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:43PM (#4328383) Homepage Journal
    Why should the FSF care what the name is as long as Linux is free? Don't we have enough awkward names for free software as it is? I don't see one good reason to use the term GNU/Linux and frankly I find this the FAQ to hardly be in good taste, referring to Linus Torvalds as a posterboy even if they state its "other people's choice." Should Linus have a FAQ that states RMS is a whacked zealot but say that its "other people's choice." It was the FSF "choice" to put an insulting term in the FAQ.

    The very nature of the GPL itself allows people to name their software whatever they want as long as they release the source. There are no grounds for changing a name, which is commonly known, to an awkward combination of words. Any marketing guy will tell you should not have a name that people can't pronounce. GNU is certainly a hard name to pronounce and just plain weird. GNU is also to blame for why we have so many poorly named free software projects.

    The idea that people should change the name of Linux is in poor taste. Much credit is given to the FSF and all the great work they have done. The FSF can be recognized for the accomplishments without having to change the name of the software which has done more to call attention to the FSF than any other project. If they have a problem with it, then they should make GNU/HURD better than Linux so they can get the recognition that they think they deserve.

  • by jgerman (106518) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:46PM (#4328426)
    Boy are you off. They aren't the ones creating newspeak, everyone who doesn't call the operating system by it's correct name is. That little bit of semantic engineering that shrtens the name to Linux is newspeak. In this case it's not for some nefarious purpose. The people that simply call it Linux either a) don't know any better b) don't understand the concept of an operating system or c) think it's easier to just say Linux (especially since the intended meaning is there). This does not mean that Linux is the correct way to say it, it means that it's easiest. It's what I call the OS, because no one is trying to downplay the involvment of GNU software by changing the name. If that were the case I would stick with the proper name.


    While it's a good thing to make sure credit is given to GNU software by asking people to use the right name, I don't think that it's needed. But to call them language police, that's ridiculous and wrong. GNU/Linux is what it is. Linux is an easy to say name that we call it by.

  • by DustMagnet (453493) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:49PM (#4328464) Journal
    FSF wrote a lot of GNU tools like gzip, sed, cat.

    Most of that code was donated to the FSF. For some reason, they never bothered to organize a kernel (until Hurd).

    If it wasn't for Linus, I'm not sure we'd have a "GNU-OS" yet.

    RMS was a great advocate for years. Now he's been totally neutralized by this stupid issue. What a waste.

  • Goodies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:57PM (#4328547) Journal
    This is probably redundant (and should be moderated as such, if it is), but I just had to collect my favorite little gems.

    The largest division in the community is between people who appreciate free software as a social and ethical issue and consider proprietary software a social problem (supporters of the free software movement), and those whose cite only practical benefits and present free software only as an efficient development model (the open source movement).

    GNU Law #1: Never, ever, pass by an opportunity to turn the conversation toward our particular political and social agenda. And don't be ashamed to really stretch to make the connection, either.

    People who value freedom are more likely to call the system "GNU/Linux"...

    You're not against freedom, are you?

    The shortest legitimate name for this system is "GNU", but we call it "GNU/Linux" for the reasons given below. [...] It would be ungentlemanly to ask people to stop giving any credit to Linus Torvalds. He did write an important component of the system.

    Well, that's mighty generous of you, Richard, throwing Linus a bone like that.

    In Spanish we sometimes say "GNU con Linux".

    Dude, a Google web search turned up exactly one instance of the phrase "GNU con Linux," in this context: "Todo esto es curro, pero entre todos podríamos remover GNU con Linux...ehr... digo Roma con Santiago..." Not being a speaker of Spanish, it looks to me like this example is just using "con" as a conjunction, like saying "GNU and Linux."

    There were no matches at all for "GNU con Linux" as a phrase on Google Groups.

    The widespread practice of adding non-free software to the GNU/Linux system is a major problem for our community. It teaches the users that non-free software is ok, and that using it is part of the spirit of "Linux".

    I really don't know what to say here. The pedantry of this statement shocks and amazes me. If the phrase "It teaches the users that [blah blah] is ok" were included in a leaked Microsoft memo, I'd be up in arms. The thought that RMS would publish this sort of statement publicly is just bewildering.

    With this understanding, they can start to recognize Lindows and so-called "United Linux" as perverted, adulterated versions of GNU.

    Sounding more and more like L. Ron Hubbard here, RMS.

    If the Linux User Group in your area has the problems describe above, we suggest you either campaign within the group to change its orientation (and name) or start a new group.

    Go found your own user group... but not in a way that divides the community or anything.

    [Linus] has never advocated the ideal of freedom to cooperate, which is why the name "Linux" is mostly disconnected from that ideal.

    So let me get this straight. If you have never actively advocated an ideal, then you must necessarily be opposed to that ideal. And if that ideal is freedom, then we've got a real problem on our hands! Linus is opposed to freedom, everybody! Sheesh.

    He goes even further, and rebukes anyone who suggests that engineers and scientists should consider social consequences of our technical work--rejecting the lessons society learned from the development of the atom bomb.

    Comparing programming as a hobby to the effort to build the atomic bomb is pretty arrogant, Richard. Once again, you've shown that your ego is way out of proportion to your contributions.

    People who laugh at our request probably have picked up that mistaken picture--they think our work was done by Linus, so they laugh when we ask for credit for it.

    Actually, Richard, we laugh because you are asking for credit for it. Asking for credit in this way is rude and overbearing. The most common responses are to get angry, or to laugh. I'm choosing to laugh, simply so that I may not get angry.
  • by xant (99438) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:57PM (#4328549) Homepage
    I read every single tedious reply to Bruce's post and I didn't see a single one that addresses the rhetorical flaw in it:

    Saying (or even typing) GNU/ does not and will never have any effect on the "folks out there trying to change Linux into just another SCO, placing NDAs on it, and in general simply not understanding what the advantage of free software is". If I thought for a single second that it did, I'd be saying GNU/ regardless of whether or not it was meritable, just to raise Linux's stock.

    There's no causal link between saying GNU/ and helping free software. I'm sorry, Bruce.
  • by SquierStrat (42516) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:58PM (#4328561) Homepage
    No, people used GNU tools to write an OS called Linux and subsequently to write software for this OS. The only OS GNU has is the unfinished HURD kernel which hasn't exactly had much success for various reasons. Linux is an operating system, Linus Torvalds started the project that created Linux and there for hehas naming rights. He named is Linux. The FSF and GNU project had nothing to do with it's creation short of the tools used for it's creation.
  • Re:misnomer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:03PM (#4328620) Homepage
    bad grammer and all - maybe he should have used a Microsoft product with helpful features like spell check and grammer check

    Oh, as opposed to "good grammer"? Where's a helpful MS app when you need one...

  • by mcgrof (250521) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:04PM (#4328637) Homepage
    Our Student LUG here @ Rutgers [rutgers.edu] asked Stallman if he or any of GNU's representatives could visit us. He replied saying that we'd have to change our club's name to GNU/Linux users group if we'd want him personally to visit.


    So we debated it on our web forums... and on our IRC channel (#ruslug on openprojects)... and we concluded that we shouldn't. I personally concluded that we shouldn't since the name doesn't really matter. What counts is the definition of the OS. And in that definition it should be stated that it's really a GNU/X/etc system. I believe that for respect for GNU, we should refer to it as GNU/Linux only to imply respect for GNU. But in general, when talking about Linux, it really shouldn't matter what the hell we call it.


    I told Stallman about our results, but he seemed rather dissapointed about it. I'm curious as to what spawned this FAQ to show up on GNU's web site. My suite-mate is desperate to get to our Algorythms class, so I can't really post much more! eek. Laters1!!%1!

  • Wrong (Score:1, Insightful)

    by theLOUDroom (556455) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:09PM (#4328689)
    Just a small correction: You can run linux without using GNU utilities. The FSF has made a siginifant contribution in this area. However, they have also made a significant contriubtion to my general annoyance level, though their insistance on the ???linux thing. Linux is the name of a kernel. They did not write it. Linus did. He named it. They should just deal.
  • by jasno (124830) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:09PM (#4328690) Journal
    Ok, I finally understand now.

    Of course, since most distros use perl to perform many critical functions we actually have to call it GNU/Perl/Linux. Oh, don't forget those python install scripts.. So now we have GNU/Perl/Python/Linux. And since SSH is such a vital part of system administration and wasn't created by the current list, I think we'll need to call it GNU/Perl/Python/OpenBSD/Linux. Wait, some of it was compiled with nasm? And that's not a FSF product? Ok, so its GNU/Perl/Python/OpenBSD/nasm/Linux.

    Ok, I think we're finally coming up with a fair name for all of those ungrateful linux distributions that refuse to give credit to the FSF. What? Those distros contributed large parts of the code that makes up the current GNU lineup? And even people not involved with Linux made contributions? Ok, so now we're gonna have to name the GNU products as well. I suppose we'll make it Debian/Redhat/Suse/Windriver/GNU. But those people would never have existed without the FSF...

    I'm sensing another recursive acronym coming here.

    This is silly. Yes, the FSF has made excellent contributions to open software. However we're where we are today because of the contributions of thousands of programmers around the globe. If the FSF thinks their current lineup is the way it is solely because of their own efforts they're sorely mistaken. If they were to apply the same logic to their software, every package would have a name a thousand chars wide.

    Seriously, there comes a point where every fanatic has to ask the question of wether their current actions are coming into conflict with their basic goals.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:11PM (#4328721)

    Why not just say "Linux is the GNU kernel" and release some existing version of GNU/Linux under the name "GNU"?

    It might have been a good idea to adopt Linux as the GNU kernel back in 1992. If we had realized, then, how long it would take to get the GNU Hurd to work, we might have done that


    So, you're admitting that a kernel was much harder to write than a bunch of trivial utilities like sed, cp, mv, ls and you're admitting that in 10 years the GNU project has not been able to produce a kernel that can replace Linux. Why do you think you deserve equal credit?
    If the LINUX community cared enough about this ridiculous debate, 99% of the GNU tools could be reimplemented independently in a few months (in fact, alternatives already exist for most). Even for glibc and gcc alternatives are already available. The one thing for which no acceptable replacement exists is the Linux kernel.
  • by scruffy (29773) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:12PM (#4328733)
    Having naming rights is essentially an indirect way to own or have authority over something. This is like trademarks in our legal system, where you get to own the name, too. This is also like parents naming their children, which indicates that the parents have authority over their children. So I think that the FSF and RMS believes that they "own" Linux, not in any legal sense, but perhaps moral ownership or moral authority.

    Perhaps parental authority is closer to the mark, with the incessant claim that without GNU tools, Linux wouldn't exist (compare "without your parents, you wouldn't exist").

    Another element is prophetic authority (I don't have a better name). The FSF and RMS feel that they conceived and dreamed of a free OS first (maybe more precisely, thought of a GPLed OS first). Linux fulfilled their dream, and because the FSF and RMS were the prophets, they get a kind of mystical authority over it.

    Despite all talk about freedom, the FSF and RMS think that Linux is bound to them. Part of freedom, I think, is letting things go free. If you deliberately give up ownership, I think naming rights or naming obligations are part of what you have given up. At least that is what I and a lot of other people think.

  • by rlwhite (219604) <rogerwh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:12PM (#4328734)
    This is exactly the type of garbage that has me seriously considering avoiding GNU software entirely. I have no desire to even wrongfully imply my endorsement of their absurd philosophy.

    Microsoft puts a monetary price on their software and tries to lock you in.

    GNU tries to indoctrinate you. That FAQ is dripping with propaganda and a condescending ideology that demands everyone to believe the FSF philosophy. "Free Software"- software given away at an intellectual price. No thank you. It's politics from a branch of ideology that has consistently led into totalitarianism. It's not free; it's absurd.
    So what about the FSF philosophy itself? Why is it absurd? Because programmers have to live somehow. We don't live in a communist utopia (ie, communism without the totalitarianism) and never will. I wish we did, but it's against human nature. Face it- the FSF philosophy ultimately boils down to communism.

    Programming is a valuable skill that provides many of us with a living. When I'm programming for a hobby, I'll gladly give away my code, but I can't give everything away until the supermarket, the real estate agent, etc. start giving away all their goods that I need. Let's face it, I'm not going to make my living from maintaining my code. If I'm doing my job right there shouldn't be much maintainence anyway.

    Does that mean I should be able to keep my code proprietary for the rest of my life and my grandchildren's? No, just long enough for me to make a reasonable profit. In this industry, a 5 year copyright with no patents should suffice.

    The answer isn't in communist ideology and revolution. It's simple intellectual property reform. Keep it simple, stupid.
  • Re:Say It! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@castle[ ... s ['ste' in gap]> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:14PM (#4328752) Homepage Journal
    The FSF is only asking that it be called by it's proper name.

    The FSF made GNU tools, AND the GPL, and if they wanted any say in the "proper name" of what someone else has when they take GNU tools and components and makes something, they should have written it into the GPL.

    If the FSF wanted to have this "proper name," they should have supported Linus in the early days and asked for the nomenclature from the get-go. Them trying to instigate a change of the popular name for the OS family after the fact is a boldfaced attempt to ride the shorttails of Linux's popularity.

    If they want "GNU/Linux", they should make a "pure GNU" distribution of Linux.
  • by Danborg (62420) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:15PM (#4328766)
    Apache - not GNU.
    PHP - not GNU.
    Samba - not GNU.
    Sendmail - not GNU.
    Perl - not GNU.
    KDE - not GNU.
    (The list goes on and on...)
    Gee, it looks like a whole slew of important components of a Linux system are not GNU. Richard Stallman needs to grow up. (And get a hair cut.)
  • by spudnic (32107) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:15PM (#4328770)
    The biggest problem I have with GNU is that it is too hard to say. How many people pronounce Gnome 'gahnome' rather than 'nome'. GNU is just an annoying name. And if you don't pronounce it 'gahnu' it sounds like you are saying New/Linux.

    Get a real name and then maybe we'll talk!

  • by hondo77 (324058) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:17PM (#4328800) Homepage

    In other words: Who cares what Linus calls the OS? Even smart people can be wrong.

    Substitute "Stallman" for "Linus" and you sum up my feelings exactly.

  • by SuperDuG (134989) <<be> <at> <eclec.tk>> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:26PM (#4328888) Homepage Journal
    We are asking them to give the GNU Project credit for the GNU operating system.

    FINE! I hereby give GNU credit on their operating system GNU/HURD. This argument is so moot, I can use gnu tools on Windows with cygwin, and on bsd with the linux compatability layer, does this mean that I use GNU/Windows and GNU/BSDOS?

    FSF Needs to properly remove their heads from their asses, focuse a little less on politics and start a little more focus on the actual programs. Let's face it, all the infighting of the FREE/OPEN software is what keeps companies like MS happy.

    MS-Guy-1: Ohhh no, the linux community is starting to gain more of the market share!

    MS-Guy-2 It's okay, just send an anonymous email to stallman mentioning that people are still calling it linux and not GNU/Linux, that oughta throw um off for a few months. And while you're at it, write an review of both KDE and Gnome, just make sure they're exactly the same but change the names around respectively. Finally make mention of Vi is better than Emacs.

  • by tigre (178245) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:32PM (#4328941)
    It reminds me of The Cathedral and the Bazaar [tuxedo.org] wherein Eric Raymond posits that Linus got so much credit not because of his own work but because of how well he managed the overall effort. I wonder why RMS/FSF have so much trouble getting that effect to work for them?
  • Re:Non-GNU Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sfraggle (212671) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:35PM (#4328973)
    Well to be fair they arent really demanding anything, just asking for equal credit, but you have a valid point.

    This idea of restrictions is probably one of the reasons the Linux kernel has been more successful than Hurd. Hurd is part of the GNU system and to contribute to it you have to sign over the copyright for your code to the FSF. Linux has a mixed copyright with no such restriction. People obviously like being able to do things and contribute to things with less restrictions. Also see XEmacs which is streets ahead of GNU Emacs.
  • Re:misnomer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by salmo (224137) <mikesalmo@nOSpAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:37PM (#4328994) Homepage Journal
    Ummm. Have you read the comments here before??? Even in this thread regarding the article people are still rasing the same questions and still ignoring the FSF's justifications. They forget about this thing called morality. Or they wrongly associate morality with some sort of Southern Baptist right wing political movement.

    I respect the FSF for having a philosophy and sticking to it. They're not saying you have to do anything. They are saying that they would prefer if you called it GNU/Linux, they are saying why they would prefer you to call it it that, and they are inviting you to think about it.

    I recommend people actually sit down and think about what consitutes ethics. Look at Aristotle, Kant, Mill, somebody. "because it makes sense to me right now" is not a good justification for any action.
  • by werdna (39029) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:39PM (#4329021) Journal
    Disputes like this keep FSF's more substantive arguments from being taken seriously. Efforts to define the world to suit their needs by quibbling about language may play in well-educated communities, but will be ignored or worse in the rest of the world -- the part that matters.

    People in the real world see through this immediately - indeed intuitively - and quickly grow tired of the wordplay.

    This issue, like many others, just gives enemies of open software more fodder on which to chew and helps our community not at all. Whatever the merits of the argument may be, FSF is clearly fighting a losing battle, and squandering a great deal of well-earned credibility and public support in the process.

    I am not sure that the argument itself is persuasive, but even if I agreed with it entirely, it isn't an argument that has to be made. It hurts the community at large, and FSF in particular. RMS should cease and desist.
  • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:01PM (#4329227)
    The two most common reasons I hear for not saying "GNU/Linux" are (1) it sounds stupid and (2) that a Linux system is not just Linux + GNU -- it's Linux + GNU + XFree + ... Their response to that is that "You have to set a limit somewhere ... so let's limit it to just calling it GNU/Linux."


    Sorry, guys, that's bullshit. If you're going to insist that everyone give you credit for your contributions, you're going to have to credit everyone. And if the FSF isn't going to credit everyone involved, I feel no need to give them extra credit. My "threshold value" is just calling the system Linux.

  • by crimoid (27373) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:02PM (#4329235)
    Lets face it, the GNU Project isn't sexy. They have little corporate sponsorship and if you mentioned GNU to your average CEO you'd be met with blank stares. Mention Linux to that same CEO and you're likely to see some name recognition.

    The GNU Project desperatly wants this type of attention. They want "GNU" shoved in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Using Linux as the vehicle to make this happen is all this is about.

    It is sad to see the GNU Project grasping at straws like this. It detracts from their credibility and, frankly, makes them look as desperate as they actually are. Many "brand names" are complitations of lesser parts and various Linux distributions are no different.

    Requiring or even ASKING for these types of name "changes" is sad and unfortunate.
  • by jasno (124830) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:12PM (#4329338) Journal
    And if there was no (insert thousands of contributors here) there would be no GNU. Has cygnus ever complained that GCC should actually be called CGCC? No? Then what right does the FSF have? They're acting in a way consistent with the believe that everyone owes THEM and that THEY wrote all of their own software.
  • by Slicker (102588) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:22PM (#4329426)

    First, Linus has loudly advocated ideals such as sharing and taking responsibility for the social consiquences of one's work. I specifically admired his rebuttals to Microsoft's accusations that innovation is only possible through proprietary models: reciting the words of Isaic Neuton (I think?), "If I have achieved anything great, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants." In other words, he was only building upon the knowledge garnered by those who came before him.

    What pissed off GNU as a whole, were Linus' statements against "ideologies." Linus takes a stand against those who develop whole systems of thought and stubbornly try to force them upon others. That's the same issue I have with GNU--not that I disagree with any (but one) of the basic principals of the FSF. But GNU's extreme desire for power, control, and paranoia of loosing it.

    The one principal of GNU's philosophy that I disagree with is that users should not use any proprietary software. Basically, it boils down to their control-issue. While I can agree that "selling" proprietary software is immoral for the reasons GNU gives, GNU's insistance that using such software is even more immoral. Users have every right to use anything at their disposal and it's not immoral to do so. So long as there is no Free alternative software, I will use and advocate the use of any software needed to do a job that needs doing.

    GNU Needs to also stop restricting the potential use of so called Free Software. My biggest complaint is their stance against creating a web browser plugin for RTL code. If we had one, then we could use any of the GNU compiler front-ends (programming languages) to run on far more platforms that JAVA or C# and fully compiled with far superior optimizations. GNU's reason for not doing so is paranoia that hardware manufacturers might build their own RTL compilers and keep technical information away from Free developers so the proprietary versions would always retain an edge.

    This is a clear case of over-paranoia to the detriment of users and the FSF. The hardware manufacturer will never control the standard because he will never control all computing hardware--will he? So what advantage will they have? Maybe they could sell their slightly more efficient backend compiler for that specific platform against a Free version that's more standards compliant. What's the point, besides holding back an enormous potential at helping developers overcome both JAVA and .Net in one quick swoop?

    Naturally, I will prefer Free software.

    Matthew
  • Re:By Joe Ottinger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sab39 (10510) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:25PM (#4329449) Homepage
    I'm not going to reply to most of this for lack of time (so please don't infer any position, either way, on the rest of your post from this lack of response). But the use of cygwin as an example was particularly unfortunate.

    You see, Cygwin is a contraction of the words "cygnus" and "windows". And "cygnus" is a recursive acronym from "cygnus your GNU software".

    Oh, and one other point I have to argue. The FSF has never claimed that the GNU tools are vital to Linux-the-kernel. It's true that it's almost certainly possible to build a system with a Linux kernel that's otherwise entirely a BSD system. But from the content of the FAQ and every argument I've ever heard from RMS, he'd want to see that system called BSD/Linux, not GNU/Linux. His point isn't that such a system isn't possible, but that no distribution in any kind of wide use actually does so.

    Interestingly, if systems like that actually were in wide use, it would validate his argument further. Think about it: instructions on how to do any given operation are far more likely to depend on the toolset than on the kernel. So instructions for "Linux" (meaning Linux+GNU-tools) are less likely to apply to BSD/Linux than instructions for BSD are. It would make much more sense to have to choose between instructions for BSD versus GNU (which would cover the case of GNU tools on a BSD kernel also, as in the fledgling Debian GNU/BSD project, not to mention Hurd) than for BSD versus "Linux" as you're more likely to see now.

    I've always been surprised to see so little activity in the area of switchable kernels based on the same overall operating system / distro. I suspect that the naming issue is actually partly to blame for this - if you think of the whole system as "Linux", what are you actually running if you keep the whole rest of the system the same but switch in a BSD or Hurd kernel?
  • by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#4329531) Journal
    By your logic, anyone calling you an asshole has every right to do so, but that is not true.

    Um... actually, yeah it is. Anybody can call anybody anything, as long as it's not against the law.

    Will you agree then that if calling a system Linux is hurting the project which it's software is based upon, then it is acceptable for the project's members speak up about it, and request that it be called by it's more appropriate name?

    Nope. Because, see, the FSF didn't make "the system." They made some programs. Others took those programs and made systems out of them. Red Hat, for example, takes software from a bunch of sources-- Linux, GNU stuff, XFree86, lots of others-- and makes "a system" out of it. Red Hat can call their system whatever they want. They can call it Red Hat Wooza Wuzza if they want to. But they choose to call it "Red Hat Linux." Not "Red Hat GNU/Linux," or "Red Hat Linux now with extra GNU" or "GNU presents Red Hat Linux." They call it "Red Hat Linux."

    I have a Mac at the office that we use for running Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. That's all we do on that computer, so those are the only programs (besides OmniWeb) installed on it. Would anybody seriously recommend that we call that computer's OS "Adobe/Mac OS?" After all, Adobe contributed more application code (in terms of bytes) to that computer than anybody else. Credit where it's due, right?

    It's the same thing with GNU. GNU utilities are no more a part of the operating system-- literally speaking-- than Photoshop is. The "ls" command is not part of the operating system. It's a program, called by a user interactively and executing in user space. I suppose you could make the argument that the C standard library implementation is part of the OS, because programs depend on it to run. But other than that, it's all just user-space stuff. Not technically part of the OS.

    If you get reductionist on this topic, everything starts to fall apart.

    Now, as for your remark that it's "hurting the project," that's simply bullshit. RMS perceives that the grievous insult of calling it "Linux" is hurting his personal political agenda. That's different, in a very meaningful and serious way, from it "hurting the project." Unless the GNU software exists only to forward RMS's political agenda, in which case I hereby officially propose that we form a new group to create truly free-- not Stallman's "free"-- software. I propose, with apologies to Waterson, that we call this organization GROSS-- Get Rid of Slimy Stallman-- and that the software we create be called whatever people want to call it.

    BTW, what do you think about calling an entire OS (including compiler, libraries, utilities, and kernel) Linux?

    Love it. Names are important, and every operating system has one. "Linux" is as good a name for an operating system as any, and better than a lot of them.

    In my opinion, after reading the FAQ, GNU/Linux does make more sense.

    It's not about whether it makes sense, per se. Most things in this world make little sense if you think about them a little, and names doubly so. It's about the fact that RMS is going around asking people-- in a lot of cases, demanding that people-- call a thing by his preferred name instead of their own preferred name because he feels the more popular name is hindering the advancement of his (wacko, loony, wrong) political agenda.

    Hell, if we all got together and decided that names had to make sense from now on, GNU and FSF would be the first ones to go. Recursive acronyms may be kinda funny-- the first time you hear them-- but they make no sense at all. And the Free Software Foundation's really agenda has nothing at all to do with freedom. So don't go talking about names that "make sense."
  • by pz (113803) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#4329544) Journal
    He worked for years and years, living in his office to make GNU work.

    RMS did not live in his office just to make GNU work, through some kind of honorable uber-conviction of his goals, but because he has not had an independent residence for years. His last domicile suffered a fire (which he is rumored to have blamed on the FBI or CIA, I forget which) many years ago, and out of paranoia and necessity, he moved in to 545 Tech Square. He has since waged a long-successful campaign of threatening suicide when asked to move out of the building. Most recently, he's been living on the fourth floor, in my old office.

    What with the upcoming move of LCS/AI (the MIT labs which occupy 545 Tech Square) to the Strata Center, I don't know what RMS will do, or even if he's been included in the plans.

    Now to be perfectly fair, I have used Emacs, and other tools RMS and colleagues have written, nearly every day since 1980, and I think the world is a much better place with RMS in it, despite his oddities. But that does not discount his pervasive weirdnesses (eg, inability to stand still, habitual twirling of his hair, rumored fear of water and plants, etc.), nor raise his choice of residence to a heroic level. Emacs is great, GNU is great, RMS is a strange bird.
  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:41PM (#4329639) Homepage Journal
    A man works hard to help other and make the world a better place, with little gain for himself, devoting almost 20 years to a project which eventually leads to a completely free (speech/beer) operating system and applications, and what do people say....

    If this isn't evidence of Stallman's mental illness, I don't know what is.

    The man's been called crazy by many for a long time now...

    In the first 10-12 years when there was not complete workable system, yet he labored away sacrificing personal wealth. A man such as this has a thick skin... you're just not going to phase him with the name "crazy" after others have tried repeatedly for two decades!

    Oh, the problem isn't with us, it's with everyone else . We insist that people use this ludicrous name that no one can cleanly pronounce, and if anyone disagrees, clearly they are dividing the community.

    The same could, and has many times been said, over the whole debate of the merits of Free vs Proprietary software. Remember, RMS started this whole crazy idea and stuck with it in the early years. Yes, years. Nowadays people regularily talk how GPL's software (or open source) has its advantages and the whole idea appeals to more than a small handful of hackers who easily written off as zealots.

    I personally call it "linux" in conversation, and I rarely write GNU/Linux, but I don't say rude things like this:

    Stallman, how about this: you call it whatever you want. And how about respecting other people's decision on what they want to call it, and stop notoriously refusing to talk to anyone who disagrees with you.

    As an experiment, try this:

    1. Quit your job
    2. Start an overwhelming project, with the overall goal of allowing everyone to have freedom to make changes
    3. Work with little or no pay for almost 20 years
    4. Watch it finally become widely used
    5. Observe people promote it for different reasons than why you started and kept with the project all those years
    6. Listen to people talk about what started as your project, without knowing about you or the ideals you've tried to promote for 20 years
    7. Sit by silently as millions fail to "get it" (the overall purpose, freedom vs proprietary)
  • by adamtegen (115995) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:53PM (#4329756)
    I found his webpage and based on it alone I think Stallman is an extremist and loony. GNU deserves props for everything they have, done which is a lot, but this is just plain scary. Stallman calls himself a saint in his own religion. [stallman.org]

    I think he turns people off because he turns this into a religious war. I think Linus has "converted" more people to OSS by taking the more practical approach.

  • Oh puh-lease. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GreyWizard (567129) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:02PM (#4329856) Homepage Journal

    The fact that they ask you to call a system that they designed, organized and labored on GNU/Linux is arrogant? That they do so persistently somehow makes it a demand? The fact that they explain the reasons for this is request is what crosses the line? Perhaps if you sit down and rest quietly until the room stops spinning your comments will start to make more sense.

  • Re:Non-GNU Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wfrp01 (82831) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:19PM (#4329988) Journal
    I can name this just Linux (not GNU/Linux) because it contains no GNU software.

    But you're missing the main point. The point is not that the OS contains a whole bunch of GNU components, so therefore you owe the FSF fealty. If that were the point, than as many have (incorrectly) pointed out, it would be equally valid to request the system be called Perl/Linux, etc.

    Whether or not your system is built using GNU components, you still owe the FSF a debt of gratitude for promoting free software. Or did you put your system together from scratch? You did not: you're using busybox, for example, which is licenced under the GPL.

    While there are many organizations which produce free software, which organizations do you look to unswervingly promote the ideals of software freedom? The FSF.

    Again, the FSF is not asking you to use GNU/Linux out of respect for the amount of code they gave you. They want you to use the name GNU/Linux to increase awareness of the principle of software freedom on which your OS is based.

    Also remember - it's just a request . Not a demand. Not a EULA. Not a law. Nothing to lose sleep over.
  • by MCZapf (218870) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:33PM (#4330105)
    Those rare systems that do not include GNU components can be called "GNU-less Linux." Otherwise, "Linux" is fine with me. I agree that the "GNU" part is redundant, or at least unneeded information in the name of a distribution.
  • amoral (Score:2, Insightful)

    by totalnubee (223194) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:07PM (#4330427)
    Non-free software is an example of that amoral approach and thrives on it. (faq) [gnu.org]
    Did they really intend to call all developers of non-free software "amoral"? And did they do that while asking everyone to support their cause?

    Good luck

  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:44PM (#4330770) Homepage Journal
    Apache - not GNU.
    PHP - not GNU.
    Samba - not GNU.
    Sendmail - not GNU.
    Perl - not GNU.
    KDE - not GNU.


    Yep. FSF claims to be the "primary developer" of the GNU/Linux system because they wrote most of the code.

    The phrase "bzzzt! Thanks for playing!" comes to mind.

    You mentioned a few, but let's get that list under analysis. I just happen to have a *Linux* system here. It's specifically a Red Hat Linux 7.3 system. It's not a complete install, but it's quite functional, so it should be a fair comparison of the "required parts of GNU" vs. "the required parts of Linux".

    When I do an "rpm -qa" and clean up/uniquify the output to remove all of the duplicate kde, GNOME, XFree86, etc packages (I don't count XFree86 fonts seperately from XFree86, for example) I see 677 packages. Now, let's say that some of those are man-pages (which GNU was unwilling to write for years because they didn't like the format) and other non-program packages (like redhat-relase, which is just a marker), so I'll round that down to 600.

    Now, I go and look at ftp.gnu.org:/gnu, and I find that there are 216 sub-directories. Most of those are packages, but some are not.

    To weed that down, I check to see which ones are installed on my system. I get a little shock... 52 GNU packages are installed on my machine.

    That's it.

    I check again.

    And again.

    Nope, that's it!

    a2ps-4.13b-19 aspell-0.33.7.1-9 autoconf-2.13-17 automake-1.4p5-4
    bash-2.05a-13 bc-1.06-8 binutils-2.11.93.0.2-11 bison-1.35-1 cpio-2.4.2-26
    ddd-3.3.1-13 diffutils-2.7.2-5 ed-0.2-25 emacs-21.2-2 fileutils-4.1-10
    findutils-4.1.7-4 finger-0.17-9 gawk-3.1.0-4 gcc-2.96-112 gdb-5.2-2
    gdbm-1.8.0-14 gettext-0.11.1-2 ghostscript-6.52-9.4 glibc-2.2.5-39
    gmp-4.0.1-3 grep-2.5.1-1 groff-1.17.2-12 guile-1.3.4-19 gzip-1.3.3-1
    indent-2.2.7-3 less-358-24 libstdc++-2.96-112 libtool-1.4.2-7 m4-1.4.1-7
    make-3.79.1-8 mc-4.5.55-5.ximian.2 ncurses-5.2-26 parted-1.4.24-3
    patch-2.5.4-12 rcs-5.7-15 readline-4.2a-4 screen-3.9.11-3 sed-3.02-11
    sh-utils-2.0.11-14 sharutils-4.2.1-9 tar-1.13.25-4 termcap-11.0.1-10
    texinfo-4.1-1 textutils-2.0.21-1 time-1.7-16 units-1.74-1 wget-1.8.1-4
    which-2.13-3


    Yes, gcc was a lot of work, and a great compiler. I love it, but it's utility doesn't make up for the fact that GNU tools are a small part of a working Linux system. Hey, I've got an idea! Let's call it little-bit-of-GNU/Linux!
  • by Soulslayer (21435) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @05:08AM (#4334424) Homepage
    The central argument of Stallman's has always been "the kernel is useless without the tools. So the tools require equal billing" which is just plain silly.

    My Nissan pickup is fairly useless without its Firestone tires, but I don't go around calling it a Firestone/Nissan. However if someone asks what tires I have on my Nissan I will tell them "Firestone Wilderness AT's" or just "Wilderness AT's" (and to forestall the lame jokes about Firestone recalls, no these are not from the bad batch and have been fine for a long time) just as if someone asks what C compiler my Linux system uses I would say "GCC" or "the GNU compiler".

    Stallman also seems to conveniently ignore commercial software like Sun's Solaris/Sun OS when it began shipping with GNU tools. Why this rabid fascination with making only Linux bear the full moniker of GNU?

    As iggymanz points out if Stallman were truly interested about giving credit where credit was do he would be naming all the GNU tools with the names of those that contributed to them since without the programmers, there would be no tools.

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