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Chacham's Journal: Question: GNU/Linux or Linux/GNU 11

Journal by Chacham

Well, RMS made his storm, though i don't care for it. But one thing is true, Linux is just a kernel, GNU provides many of the tools that make it usuable, and then there are the distributions with their own special flavor.

So, the OS is not Linux, the kernel is. The OS is a mixture of the kernel and the tools, and possibly should reflect that. GNU/Linux sounds like Linux is a subset of the GNU implementation, whereas the average user might want to call GNU the subset of Linux, being they care more about the kernel. Thus, Linux/GNU.

The distribution cannot be ignored. Since they put it together, that is the "real name". So, when people ask me what OS i run, i can say "Debian". What flavor of Debian? To that one can answer GNU/Linux or Linux/GNU.

One thing about Debian, is that they seem to want to distribute any kernel, but with the GNU tools, so to them GNU/Linux may actually be more appropriate.

On another note, basically all distributions of Linux use the GNU tools, so mentioning Linux automatically infers both, whereas the opposite may not be true. Therefore, if one does not care but to answer the question, "Linux" is fine by itself.

What do you call it? And, what do you think it "should" be called?

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Question: GNU/Linux or Linux/GNU

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  • Let it go RMS. Call it what people call it.. linux. You can fight people over semantics but you'll never get it out of the popular culture. Think hacker/cracker. Some battles aren't worth fighting while others sure the hell are.
  • How about "lignux"? Then we could prepend a syllable for the distro, so Debian would be "delignux", or gentoo "gelignux".

    Yes, it's silly. A silly argument deserves a silly solution.
  • I don't have a problem with whatever people want to call something, but here's a little observation:

    There are plenty (usually embedded) distributions of linux that do not use any GNU software whatsoever, thus to generalize the entire family of compatible systems, I believe it is still appropriate to use "Linux". "GNU/Linux" or whatever is a subset of Linux systems and distributions.

    Therefore it is possible to say your software is compatible with "Linux" even when you are referring to the entire OS: kernel
    • There are plenty (usually embedded) distributions of linux that do not use any GNU software whatsoever

      Interesting i was unaware of that.

      Imagine the following machine configurations -- all VERY different and come up with the best name to generalize them.

      But those are not the OS. The OS is generally the kernel, the shell, and basic tools.

      This is, essentially, a GNU/NetBSD distribution!

      Exactly. Which is why even if other distibutions are Linux/GNU, Debian would more likely be GNU/Linux.
      • But those are not the OS. The OS is generally the kernel, the shell, and basic tools.

        If you are going to extend the definition of OS into userland at all, you can't include basic commandline utilities and exclude higher level applications such as a graphics server or desktop environment. Depending on what you are doing, the "Basic tools" might include the GUI. Think about a palmtop or phone with only touchscreen or keypad input. I would certainly classify the Finder of MacOS as part of the operating syste
        • In the cases you gave, the GUI is the main shell. Such is not the case with X.

          Here's a point. When Windows was first released it was not the OS. When Windows 3.1 became ubiquitous, people did not say they were running Windows, they said they were running DOS/Windows. When 95 came out, even though it was based on DOS, the main interface was Windows, so people said they were running Windows.

          The same here. If people are always using Linux and the GNU tools, why shouldn't it be Linux/GNU? Only if X becomes t
          • It can be GNU/Linux or Linux/GNU or LiGNUx or whatever you want to call it! The point is that Linux+GNU systems are a subset of a larger set of computing devices that can be called simply "Linux" systems. Thus, it would not be improper to call a Linux/GNU system a "Linux System" or "Debian GNU/Linux" a "Linux distribution". It would; however, be improper to say that a TiVo device is running "GNU/Linux" or "Linux/GNU" because it is not. The only real goal of naming anything is to present as general a descrip
            • Take an applications "System Requirements"

              That is not listing OS. Instead it is listing software requirements.

              Besides, admit it

              True. :)

              I was thinking more when publishing something, where i'd prefer to be more correct.

              What's the point of having a huge argument about it?

              One, i enjoy arguing. Two, because i learn from the points mentioned. I enjoy all your posts so far on this, even if i don't agree.
  • If nothing else, each linux distro is a constant fork of the GNU tools. Therefore, let's say I am running slackware on one computer, debian on another, and Gentoo on a third. I have, as a result:

    Slackware Linux: A combination of Slackware's stuff, GNU tools, a linux kernel, and other packages.

    Debian: A combination of Debian's stuff, GNU tools, a kernel (usually linux), apt, and other packages.

    Gentoo Linux: A combination of Gentoo's stuff, GNU tools, a linux kernel, portage and other BSD-like tools, and
    • you've done it now, you cursed in chacham's presence.

      well, if it hadn't already happened, i'm sure you're now among the majority of humanity that chacham will never acknowledge again, although he might still respond to other people in your journal entries. it's a convenient way to point out you're ignoring someone without all of that nasty direct confrontation hassle.
      • It was bound to happen. Misson accomplished...that's the whole reason I added Chacham to my friends list. (when he foed one of my friend/fan people and they made a JE about it or a post at FK's or something). I had forgotten completely 'til he foed me. He is of course still welcome in my journal, and I'll keep coming to his unless he gets completely dull anyhow. It's kinda fun to have the friend/freak dots next to each other for a change.

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