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GNU is Not Unix

RMS Turns 50 527

Posted by timothy
from the but-a-young-50 dept.
gnuhead writes "RMS is turning 50 on the 16th, according to this post in the FSF India mailing list. Some of the members have decided to give a birthday gift to RMS by celebrating March 16th to April 15th as 'GNU/Linux' month, and having a 'It's GNU/Linux dammit!' email sig. for this month. Happy birthday RMS!!!"
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RMS Turns 50

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  • by DaBj (168491) <dabj&dabj,net> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:22PM (#5525434) Homepage Journal
    GNU/Happy birthday.

    (Sorry)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:22PM (#5525436)
    Most... trollable... story... ever.
  • Now.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by MisterFancypants (615129) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:22PM (#5525439)
    Now I can refer to him as "a cranky old man" instead of just "a cranky man".

    Happy GNU/Birthday you smelly hippie.

  • How very like rms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fw3 (523647) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:24PM (#5525449) Homepage Journal
    50th birthday--not ordinarily an occasion for joy. But your support will make it a happy birthday.

    To take even the occaision of his birthday as something political.

    I guess it's his party and all :-)

  • by huhmz (216967) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:24PM (#5525450)
    RMS 5.0 released!
    Sorry that's GNU/RMS 5.0 of course...
  • by BroncoInCalifornia (605476) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:24PM (#5525452)
    He can be a pain in the ass, but he is our pain in the ass.
  • GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StandardDeviant (122674) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:25PM (#5525461) Homepage Journal
    This would be like building your house out of lumber and stuff you bought from Home Depot, and having Home Depot come along after the place is built with a sign saying "Built by Home Depot, with some help by the sweaty bastard living here."

    In other words, while the FSF made many valuable contributions to the Linux "movement" as it were, seeking to rename Linux is at best presumptuous.
    • That is a very good analogy. I shall be remembering it...
      • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PhoenixK7 (244984)
        Not exactly..

        You paid them for the lumber etc, it is yours. Plus lumber isn't copyrighted, its freaking dead tree thats been chopped up.

        The GNU utils are copyrighted and dristributed by GNU for free.

        Still, plenty of people buy stuff and advertise the manufacturer/maker. Almost everything you buy has the manufacturers logo permanently emblazoned on it. I'm looking around and my computer, my calculator, my speakers, phone, watch, wallet, mugs, mp3 player, books cds, movies, etc,etc,etc all have manufacture
        • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MCZapf (218870) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:32PM (#5526321)
          Is there a clause in the GPL that says you must name distributions that include GNU utilities, "GNU/Whatever"? If there isn't, then anything anyone says on the subject, including RMS, is merely a suggestion. Even if such a clause were there, I wouldn't think it would be enforceable.
    • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dbarclay10 (70443) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:45PM (#5525561)
      Personally, I don't care what other people call it - I call it "unix", and everybody seems to get the idea :)

      That being said, you misunderstand what they refer to when they say "GNU/Linux". They aren't referring to the kernel itself. If they felt that the kernel (Linux itself) was FSF software, they'd just call it "GNU" :) No, they're referring to what almost every laymen refers to when they say "Linux" - the complete system, as sold by distributors.

      Huge portions of a standard Linux distribution are GNU software, and they're arguably some of the most important parts (the compiler, the system libraries). When they say "you should call -it- GNU/Linux", they aren't referring to the kernel. They're refferring to the kernel *and* the rest of the system, of which the kernel is a relatively small part. The "GNU" in "GNU/Linux" refers to the GNU software that the distribution is built on, not the kernel. That's what the "Linux" part in "GNU/Linux" refers to.

      All clear I hope :)
      • GNU/Linux Distribution

        Not GNU/Linux because Linux is independent of GNU.

        So when saying I use Linux you're refering to the use of the Linux kernel as the base of your system.

        When you say you're using Red Hat Linux you are refering to a specific Distribution that uses Linux and GNU Tools and is packaged by a third party for easy install, technical support and donation of expertise to the Linux/GNU communities.

        I guess I dont see the need to append GNU because I don't frequently see people say I'm using Fre
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Plus I'd like to see the GNU Tools run on a kernel other than Linux (OSS not Commercial).

          FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD all heavily use GNU software and have gcc as the official compiler. Just remember, no compiler means no software in binary form. You will realize the importance of GNU only when you exist in a world devoid of GNU-made software and GNU-licensed (GPL) software.
      • Personally, I don't care what other people call it - I call it "unix", and everybody seems to get the idea :)

        But GNU's Not UNIX!!!!!

        Sorry, had to say it ;)
      • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:3, Informative)

        by Asic Eng (193332)
        You have a point about the libraries, but I don't see the compiler angle at all.

        If I interpret the license correctly, code generated by gcc is not considered a derivative work of it. A derivative work would only be generated by modifying the source code of the compiler itself. The way I read it, the GNU license doesn't reserve naming rights either, no matter whether a work is derivative or not.

        GNU deserves lots of credit, but they should stand by their license, and respect it. They freely made the decis

    • Stallman wrote the GNU general puplic licence. That is a great legal invention.

      He also writes parts of GCC. The GNU C Compiler is not a trivial thing to write. I use it from time to time.
      • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kien (571074) <kien@member.[ ].org ['fsf' in gap]> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:38PM (#5525798) Journal
        Stallman wrote the GNU general puplic licence. That is a great legal invention.

        I don't know if "invention" is the right word to use; I would tend to say "Stallman's most clever hack ever was a hack on legal code, not computer code" and I'm not even sure if that's accurate. But I do agree with the spirit of your post: the GPL has done wonders for the freedom of computer users.

        I just got back home after attending the FSF Associate Membership meeting at MIT yesterday. Eben Moglen mentioned in his presentation that he has never once had to go to court to defend GPL'ed software. The thing that had most of us chuckling throughout his presentation was what he attributed this success to: TACT! ;)

        RMS is certainly eccentric, but history is full of eccentric leaders and I believe that history will be kind to this one.

        Happy Birthday, RMS!

        --K.
    • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Executive Override (605018) <spam@skewed.de> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:55PM (#5525612) Homepage
      No... This would be like busting your ass to build a house, assemble everything from scratch, build the walls, the pumbling, everything. When it's time to build the roof, you stall a bit and then some Finish "kid" comes and builds the roof for you. Great, but all of a sudden eveyone is saying "hey man, can I go to your roof?", "At what address is your roof?", etc... "Damn it", you say, "it's a HOUSE!". And then they call you an egotist.
      • By the same argument, you should call it GNU/BSD, GNU/Solaris, etc etc etc.

        All the *nixes rely on gnu tools (gcc, tcsh, emacs, etc) for a great degree of their operation. So why does RMS obsess over linux and not everything else?

        • AFAIK most don't distribute GNU tools as part of a default install, let alone rely on them.

          For example, Solaris comes with a Companion CD containing lots of Free Software.

          Actually, the Solaris example is a good one - the kernel is SunOS, the whole operating system is Solaris. So SunOS <==> Linux, Solaris <==> GNU/Linux

    • Not at all (Score:2, Insightful)

      by golrien (528571)
      That'd be like, Home Depot start building an entire house from the top down, but before they reach the foundations, they find another guy building a house from the ground up. If they put their house on his foundations, it's hardly "mostly his house".

      But besides, the software industry is quite unlike the contruction industry (ever try to burn a house onto a CD and give it to a friend?), so the whole analogy is flawed. Put it this way: the GNU project started about 1985 (86? 84? sometime around then), whil
    • I'm not one to call it Linux or GNU whatever. I run RedHat or Mandrake. A distro is collection of a kernal and lots of tools that are setup according to a set method. The way to run things like for example the location of files on RedHat != the setup used by Debian. Linux is the kernel. Many of the tools are from FSF and are GNU/n. But what I run is RH.

    • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Caligari (180276) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:11PM (#5525688) Homepage
      I like to refer to it as 'GNU/Linux' because this way you are acknowledging the ideals of Free Software.

      People who have no awareness of 'freeness' of software or the issues involved perhaps will be curious and try to find out more about this mysterious acronym. This is precisely what happened to me after running 'Linux' before I knew anything about GNU. I have since myself spread information about Free software to many others.

      I think the "Stallman wants to 0wn Linux!!!" line is childish and petty. Why not see it for what it is - an advertisement for open and enlightened attitudes. Call it GNU/Linux 'mommy's testicles' if you want, but don't hold it against the man for seeking some (deserved) recognition - not even for himself directly - but for his positive ideology.
      • I always thought "GNU/Linux" was a reasonable compromise, given that the fair name for it would be just GNUOS.
        After all, you don't call it "the gcc operating system", do you, or "vios" even though every distribution comes with gcc, vi, mozilla, etc?
        OK, the Linux kernel is rather an important bit, and Linus be praised for making the bit that pushed it into being a real OS, but to my mind the most interesting technical aspect of "GNU/Linux" is it's mad modularity. You could build two different "GNUOS" machine
    • by llywrch (9023) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:31PM (#5526542) Homepage Journal
      But the GUI is based on MIT's development, so shouldn't we call it GNU/MIT/Linux? And Perl & Python follow other licenses. And BTW, a number of important packages included in Linux distributions are available under the BSD license.

      Why *don't* we call it ``GNU/MIT/BSD/Apache/Perl/Python/Linux"?

      Or what about the fact most computers with Solaris also have various GNU utilities installed. Most of the time, the same ones that come with a Linux distribution? Why don't we call it ``GNU/Solaris". heck, it would make troubleshooting problems with a Solaris box far easier.

      RMS was presented with these very same questions a few months ago on LWN, & like a broken computer program, all he could say was ``It's not the same thing" & talk around the question. He wants to talk about ``GNU/Linux". Anything else involving a program where the code was freely available matters doesn't matter to him.

      As I see it, someone took RMS's idea of free software & extended it. Made the software even more free. And RMS is having problems getting his head around that fact. Too bad for him; I'm still going to call it Linux.

      Geoff
    • Re:GNU/Linux, fah! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schnell (163007) <me@[ ]nell.net ['sch' in gap]> on Monday March 17, 2003 @02:19AM (#5527214) Homepage

      RMS is actually the paragon of why Free Software, despite its best attempts, will never excel without the input of the "marketing" types that GNU-ites go out of their way to denigrate.

      I say this as a open-source advocate whose day job is as a marketing/PR professional, so I have at least a fair idea of what I'm talking about.

      GNU, to use the previous analogy, was a group that saw a great (but commercially restricted) house nearby (AT&T UNIX). They started to build two houses - one from the roof down (the GNU tools) and another (GNU HURD) from the ground up. While the top-down project went well, the ground-up project suffered from typical GNU committee-think and organizational "analysis paralysis," as it is typically called in management study texts.

      Seeing another ground-up house being built (Linux), they generously added their housetop onto this new foundation. But, despite the fact that - given enough time - the new house would have built its own top, they then looked at the success of the new house and claimed half (or MORE than half) ownership.

      Casting this presumptuousness aside, let's look at what GNU would gain if people did actually start calling Linux "GNU/Linux." From a marketing perspective, they would now have their acronym in front of a larger audience - so they could do what? Maybe users would give the same amount of cash they gave for every free Linux download (none) to GNU? Maybe industry media would choose to ask RMS about Linux's new enterprise capabilities instead of Linus or Alan Cox? What good would this do, aside from giving RMS a platform to talk (often irrelevantly) about his (if admirable) "extremist" software agenda when what users really wanted to know about was whether the next Linux kernel would have (insert important feature to them)?

      While as a marketing person I understand the value of brand recognition, I still don't understand the practical value of alienating many Linux users through the forced insistence of a GNU name, when the end goal is ... what exactly again?

      Speaking as a (oh-so-hated-by-Slashdoteers) marketing professional, I have to question whether GNU's active disdain for marketing types is really getting it anywhere, when if they actually embraced a marketer somewhere in their cabal, they might have produced a less extremist spokesman than RMS and actually advanced their cause. An actual competent marketer might have advised them to drop the "GNU/Everything" crap and take a more cooperative approach with all the Linux (and even BSD [including Apple] distributions) to promote their general ideas as the expense of controversial personalities like RMS.

      But maybe promoting RMS is what GNU is all about ... I don't know, but if they broadened their camp to include marketing-types, GNOME wouldn't have such an awful user interface and the GNU program would be getting somewhere in the mainstream/technical press...

  • by Spyffe (32976) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:27PM (#5525469) Homepage
    Thank you for providing a bastion of principle that can rival the forces of closed-source.

    Although in the long-term, it would be nice if we could trust companies enough to use BSD-based licenses, right now we can't trust big business farther than we can throw them.

    As a result, a strong and uncompromising stance is the only thing that will protect Free software. And that is the stance you have taken.

    May you see the day when business and Free software are no longer seen as mutually exclusive.

    • by skillet-thief (622320) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:30PM (#5525485) Homepage Journal
      Although in the long-term, it would be nice if we could trust companies enough to use BSD-based licenses, right now we can't trust big business farther than we can throw them. As a result, a strong and uncompromising stance is the only thing that will protect Free software. And that is the stance you have taken.

      Things would be very different today, right now, if the GPL didn't exist, or if it had been allowed to be watered down by a series of little compromises.

  • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@@@gmail...com> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:27PM (#5525473) Homepage Journal
    Jeez, he's 50 already? That last pictures I saw of him made him look relatively young.

    Anyways, how about for his birthday, we try to get HURD done sometime before the guy dies? Huh?

    Maybe we can actually add the whole 4 extra characters and call it GNU/Linux instead of just Linux. Btw, RMS, I'm going to pronounce it G N U Linux, not Geenoo Linux, which sounds wierd. Sorry bout that one. Since GNU stands for GNU's not Linux, I prefer to speak it like I speak many other 3-letter abbreviations which don't sound good when spoken out phonetically: as letters (DOS is an exception).
    • by Theodore Logan (139352) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:39PM (#5525527)
      Jeez, he's 50 already? That last pictures I saw of him made him look relatively young.

      You're kidding, right? He's looked like 50 for 25 years at least.

      Anyways, how about for his birthday, we try to get HURD done sometime before the guy dies? Huh?

      After you, Sir.

      Btw, RMS, I'm going to pronounce it G N U Linux, not Geenoo Linux, which sounds wierd.

      How about making it Gentoo Linux [gentoo.org] instead? I can't recall anybody starting a flamewar about that.
    • I believe the preferred pronunciation is "Guh-Noo", rather than "Gee-Noo", which sounds much better. "Guh-Noo Lin-ux" sounds quite nice to me. Much better than "Lie-nux" ;)
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:29PM (#5525479) Journal
    Now 64th birthday, that might be interesting. But 50 has few interesting properties besides being half of 10^2.
  • Gosh.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:29PM (#5525481)
    It seems like only yesterday when I was borrowing his account on gnu.ai.mit.edu to move some files and nearly deleted GCC 1.17 (1988).

    It was late at night and I had typed 'rm gcc-1.17' instead of 'cd gcc-1.17'..

    Of course nothing happened, but a friend watched me do it and we both freaked out.

    Where would we be now if I had deleted RMS's gcc master! ;-)

    Need I say how incredibly cool he is to have shared his account with so many needy folks back in the day..
  • by Mir322 (519212) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:33PM (#5525497)
    The news of RMS 50.0 finally being released to public eyes stokes the hearts & minds of /. readers everywhere! Get in on the cyberspace street parties to be held all month! Look for free software and copies of free linux at your favorite FTP servers while supplies last!
  • You mean, RMS is a male ? *blinks, & slaps forehead* All these years .... *goes into shock*
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:41PM (#5525535) Homepage
    and buy him a Dell PC running Windows XP, IIS, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio.NET and Internet Explorer!
  • "I was devastated by the fear, but I couldn't imagine what to do and didn't have the guts to go demonstrate," recalls Stallman, whose March 18th birthday earned him a dreaded low number in the draft lottery when the federal government finally eliminated college deferments in 1971."

    Taken from the Free as in Freedom, which you can read here [oreilly.com].

    I remembered this because I thought I shared a birthday with RMS. Perhaps I was wrong after all.

  • by HuguesT (84078) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:43PM (#5525543)
    I can see everybody trolling on the GNU/Linux issue, but really seriously Stallman stands for a *lot* more than that. Without him:

    - no Free Software Foundation. no GNU! at all!
    - no Emacs
    - no GCC
    - no GDB
    - no GNU/Make

    Very likely there would be no Linux and no *free* BSD either. We would be using SCO and BSDI!

    I don't care about the GNU/blabla name myself but his contribution, both technical and philosophical, is simply enormous. In years to come people will compare who in the early years of the personal computer made the most impact, between Bill Gates and RMS. For now the jury is still out, but I know which one I respect most and whose software I use!

    Happy birthay RMS, many return! -- and thanks for not letting compromise dilute your message. May the hordes understand you some day.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:01PM (#5525646)
      THANK YOU!!!!!!

      Finally somebody who realizes that even if you don't care for RMS personally, Open Source may not even be here today without him. The whole unwashed slashdot mob really makes me angry sometimes. RMS has made more contributions to the whole Open Source movement, both in code, money, time, pholsophy and conviction than perhaps anybody else on the planet. If you don't like him, fine, but please respect what he has done.

      On the other hand reading the comments, I can't help but think that most people who have posted are 5th grade class clowns that don't understand anything that happens in the world other than what day they get their allowance.

      "Happy birthay RMS, many return! -- and thanks for not letting compromise dilute your message. May the hordes understand you some day." - I couldn't agree more. Cheers!
      • by ArtDent (83554) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:19PM (#5525721)

        RMS has made more contributions to the whole Open Source movement...

        Actually, I rather suspect that RMS would say his contributions were made to the Free Software movement.

        I agree with your sentiment: that we all owe RMS a great deal of respect. But part of that respect could include having a basic understanding of his movement and philosophies, even if we prefer competing, though related, ones.

    • by GnuVince (623231) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:06PM (#5525667)
      - no Emacs

      Imagine no GNU/Emacs
      I wonder if you can
      No need for more ram
      A brotherhood if vi
      Imagine all the people
      Editing with Vim

    • Every event indelibly casts its mark on all of history. But to assume that time itself would come to a standstill if a particular event did not occur is wrong. If RMS had never got off his butt and scratched a moral itch back in 1984, the world today would certainly be different. But to assume that it would be just like 1984 is a fallacy.

      Let's look at one of these events: GCC. RMS did not start out writing GCC because there were no free compilers. There were. But he rejected them because of technical issue
  • by jtotheh (229796) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:50PM (#5525592)
    I was trying to find the current hiding place of the cygwin utilities one day at work and I thought for a minute they had been pulled from the "market" - then I thought, "wait a minute, that software is protected by the GPL, they couldn't do that!" --- so I kept googling and found them. That realization was sort of a GNU/Zen moment for me.

    Thanks to RMS for charting a solution through the horrors of software patents and such.
  • by kurosawdust (654754) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:58PM (#5525628)
    In dual honor of RMS's birthday today and St. Patty's Day tomorrow, should we write some GNU/Limericks??

    /dodges green tomatoes

  • by Shuh (13578) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @07:59PM (#5525635) Journal
    he's going to start voting Republican?

  • My first RMS memory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dark-nl (568618) <dark@xs4all.nl> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:07PM (#5525672)
    When I was just a little kid, my father pointed at a picture in a magazine and said, "This man says that software should be free. He wrote an editor."

    I didn't get it at the time. From my point of view, all software was free, and its normal mode of distribution was as source listings in magazines.

    It was more than a decade later when I realized he must have been talking about RMS. And now I get the point, too. It's been ages since I saw a source listing in a magazine. Without free software, the next generation of hackers would have had nothing to tinker with.

    • by Virtex (2914) on Monday March 17, 2003 @01:59AM (#5527142) Homepage
      I remember the days of typing in programs from the pages of magazines like COMPUTE!, COMPUTE!'s Gazette, RUN magazine, and Ahoy!. I tend to believe it was these types of magazines that got me into programming in the first place, and I often wonder if I would be into programming today if it were not for them. I also remember when COMPUTE! stopped publishing code because, according to them, their readers no longer wanted it. I never renewed with them after that. It's too bad kids today don't have resources like this to get them into programming like they did for me and so many others.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:08PM (#5525675) Journal
    Okay Stallman... You can have this gift I bought for you, but you must allow everyone else that right as well. If anything prevents others from using it, you cannot make use of it either.

    Maybe I should have gone for the LGPLed version, where you don't have to share, but you have to tell everyone everything they need to make one just like it.
  • I use Linux, not GNU/Linux, Linux. This bit of ego puffery and self importance is stupid, okay. There is no reason for it, other than stroking your own fragile egos.

    The GNU utilities aren't as important as you make them out to be in order to have a working Linux system. The last time the GNU/Linux people came out of the woodwork, I began a bit of a project to see how easy it is to compile the BSD toolchain to run under Linux. Guess what, it's not that hard at all. So you keep it up, I may have to fini

  • but in Soviet Russia dammit, Linux/GNU says YOU !

    Just kiddin', happy birthday RMS !

  • How about, for the entire GNU/Month charge outlandish subscription-based prices for all GNU/software retroactive for the last 20 years!!!

    Hello? ...is this thing on?
  • ...I thought the root-mean-square technique dated back to the 19th century, at least.
  • by Get Behind the Mule (61986) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @08:57PM (#5525922)
    ... as in "Redhat Linux", "SuSE Linux", "Mandrake Linux", and so forth. It's the distributors, certainly not the FSF, who ought to be credited by name for this operating system we have running in front of us. They are the ones who put together the CDs, developed the installers, wrote additional software, and collected all the software packages that we can use. They have developed the support and sales organizations, and the distribution channels that have brought this OS out to the general public.

    An important part of the software in a typical distro comes from the FSF, for which the FSF deserves considerable credit. But any distro has software from very many other sources; enough so that the FSF does not deserve so much credit as to get to choose the name.

    Note that expressions like "Redhat Linux" or "SuSE Linux" really are common parlance, and these names communicate useful information. If I tell you I have SuSE Linux, then you can surmise that I have the YaST installer, a certain kind of layout under /etc, the SDB help system, and many other useful details. Maybe you need to know these things in order to help me solve a problem. But if somebody says they have "GNU/Linux", they're just making a political statement. If you want to know something useful about their system, your next question will have to be, "Yeah, but what distro do you have?"

    Really now, did the folks at FSF India really mean to do RMS a favor? There are certainly many things for which RMS could be honored, and deservedly so. Why did they have to pick out the most controversial, tendentious and dubious of all of his pursuits? Frankly, I can imagine anything worse they could have done for him.

    There is no "GNU/Linux", nor is there a "GNU/Hurd" or a GNU/anything else, because the FSF has failed to produce anything that might be called the GNU operating system. The FSF has produced a lot of outstanding software, but a GNU OS does not exist. Maybe someday, but not now. They have nothing comparable to the distro CDs from which an OS named "GNU" can be installed, in fact no installer that I know of, no support organization, nor anything else comparable to the value that organizations like Redhat, SuSE, Mandrake and the rest provide. And of course, there is no Hurd kernel. The FSF has been remarkably successful at many, many things, and I admire them greatly for it. But the effort to create an operating system called "GNU" has been a failure.

    Thus to insist on calling something "GNU/Linux" is a kind of intellectual dishonesty that, to my mind, comes uncomfortably close to plagiarism. It is an attempt to get credit for other people's work.

    Happy birthday to RMS, and congratulations for the many fine things he has accomplished in 50 years.

    But an OS called GNU is not among those accomplishments, and the obsession with the name "GNU/Linux" is something for which no one deserves any praise.
    • by Synn (6288) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:40PM (#5526588)
      But if somebody says they have "GNU/Linux", they're just making a political statement.

      I don't think even RMS would disagree with this.

      The FSF is very political, because they're fighting a idealogical war.

      On the one hand we have dictators like Microsoft that put a tax on any computer Joe Average buys and strips their natural rights away through EULA's. On the other hand we have the FSF beating the drum for the GPL and software that guarantees the user's rights.

      I personally don't go around saying GNU/Linux, mainly because it's a mouthful, but I do understand why the GNU/Linux people preach it: they're trying to increase mindshare about free software.

      And Linux wouldn't exist without free software.
  • by iggymanz (596061) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:24PM (#5526049)
    Hey, let's call it LinGNUx...that really rolls off the tongue. Happy Birthday Richard! You're whacky , but we love you! Your compiler liberated software for everyone! Much thanks for that & all the utilities! Ralph -- Let's call it LinGNUx
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @10:04PM (#5526217)
    A donation [fsf.org] to the FSF is good for everyone.

    For Emacs alone, we all owe him.
  • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:27PM (#5526522) Homepage
    I think the context of the whole Linux vs. GNU/Linux debate is entirely lost on people having read the thread below. The suggestion came out of a time where the Linux kernel group had forked the C library because they were unhappy with the FSF's management. That wasn't bad what was bad was their very casual attitude towards the fork "we aren't GNU users wer are Linux users". An attitude which Linus didn't share (he essentially the kernel as a short term kernel until Hurd was finished).

    Contrast this with the attitude of the Lucent towards their fork of emacs. They had tried very hard to work out compromises. While they were unable to reunite enough so that package managers could write for one platform the XEmacs team never failed to recognize XEmacs as a product born of Emacs.

    RMS felt that the primary problem was the distinctive name. XEmacs users couldn't help but see their work as derived from Emacs because of the name while it was very easy for Linux users to fail to understand the dependencies on GNU products. How things like Binutils were vital to creating a GPL kernel, and at the same time had been boring tedious unfun work for the FSF. Just ask yourself the simple question if XEmacs had been called Xlispedit might Xlispedit users have neccesarily seen the connection between their editor and the FSF's?

    RMS got a little heavy handed with Debian over the Linux GNU/Linux issue and this among other issues resulted in Debian becoming independent of the FSF. Now consider that RMS followed this up with two more battles:

    a) The battle against KDE
    b) The battle against the term "open source"
    and you can see how he's made enemies.

    The fact is that:

    a) Linux is part of the GNU project

    b) A large number of Linux users do not know this

    b2) A time when a lot of Linux users learn about this is during discussion of Linux vs. GNU/Linux :-)

    c) An even larger number of Linux users do not understand the philosophy and motivation of the GNU project (though a pretty high percentage think they do)

    d) RMS's battle against QT resulted in huge improvements to QT/C++. Today QT could play the same role for C++ that the C-standard library does for C. That can't help but benefit KDE over the long haul. The treatment was very painful and the results are highly positive.

    e) Everything RMS said would happen regarding the term "open source" has happened.

    Anyway happy birthday RMS. I hope the next 10 years are as succesful as these 10. Winning battles can take a great out of you.
  • by scubacuda (411898) <scubacuda@gma i l . com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @02:44AM (#5527293)
    To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men - THAT is genius.
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    To see things in the seed, that is genius.
    --Lao-Tzu

    Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. You can quote them. Disagree with them. Glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
    --Apple Computer Advertisement

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
    --Albert Einstein

    The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.
    --Arthur Koestler

    Happy b-day, Richard!

    Believe it or not, every time I fire up my GNU/Linux boxen, I think to myself, "Damn, I SO appreciate the mofos before me who created this stuff."

  • by e40 (448424) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:02AM (#5527349) Journal

    Around '82 I was a staff member at UCB. RMS was visiting Fateman (a prof at UCB) for the summer and was sharing the shared office with me and a bunch of grad students. I had heard a little about RMS, but I wasn't really prepared for the real thing.

    First off, when I introduced myself and extended my hand, well, you know, he just shook his hands in the air at me. Then, as I was talking he took out a wood flute and started playing and dancing. He would stop playing only to ask questions or make comments.

    Then, once we had been talking for a little bit, he told me about the evil people at Symbolics that sold software that had been written at MIT. He said they were no better than "thieves and arsonists". The "arsonists" bit was so funny that I started to laugh. He got really upset and started yelling at me. Problem is, I thought he was joking and I just laughed harder.

    OK, 2 stories:

    Fateman invited RMS over to dinner at his house. Just before the appointed time RMS shows up with a box of pastries. He asks for plate and puts the pastries on it. Fateman's two daughters (early teens) are like "cool, pastries for desert!!" However, as dinner started the real purpose of the pastries was revealed: they were his dinner and he was not going to share.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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