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GNU is Not Unix

FSF Issues GNU/Linux Name FAQ 1360

jdavidb writes "The FSF has issued a FAQ about why they believe you should say "GNU/Linux." Surprisingly long." They're certainly... thorough.
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FSF Issues GNU/Linux Name FAQ

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  • 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.

    • Re:You know, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tempest303 ( 259600 )
      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 Uruk ( 4907 )
      Religion? You know, when I read that FAQ it comes across to me like a group that has put their heart and soul into the development of the operating system for the last god only knows how many years. Now, they request the addition of 4 characters to a name, and people are talking like they're trying to lead a religion? Huh????

      You seem hung up on the functionalism of GNU/Linux. It is a very functional operating system with lots of technical advantages, and that's great. But please at least try to respect that there are some people out there that wrote software involved in GNU/Linux not just for functional reasons. It was their "religious zealotry" that causes you to be on this website today (since it is primarily run off of free as in speech software).

      Nobody is asking you to fall to the ground and kiss RMS's feet. They're asking you for 4 extra characters. I'd say that's not a bad deal for the hundreds of thousands of lines of code that you got in return for it. And given the magnitude of GNU's contribution, I think it makes sense to give them some credit for the OS. If operating systems were cars, then Linux without GNU would be like getting a steel frame and an engine, but no interior, seats, steering wheels, tires, or transmission.

  • Non-GNU Linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by sfraggle ( 212671 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:57AM (#4327803)
    I have a small linux distribution for the Psion Revo [alkali.org]. Interestingly, I can name this just Linux (not GNU/Linux) because it contains no GNU software. All the normal GNU base utilities (glibc, gnu text/shellutils, bash) have been replaced with small embedded replacements (uclibc, busybox). So I can leave off "GNU/" and I am still correct.
    • 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.
  • Ummmm.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by DJPenguin ( 17736 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:57AM (#4327807)
    *smiling, backing away very slowly from stallman...*

  • misnomer (Score:5, Funny)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @11:58AM (#4327814)
    Somehow I doubt those are frequently asked questions...
    • Re:misnomer (Score:5, Funny)

      by rde ( 17364 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:03PM (#4327875)
      If the list truly was a faq, top of the list, to my mind (well, okay, second to 'what the hell are you thinking') would be 'how do you pronounce gnu/linux?'

      If memory serves, RMS pronounced it guh-new-slash-linux; if I remember correctly, there's yet another compelling reason to pronounce it with a silent gnu.
    • Re:misnomer (Score:5, Funny)

      by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:03PM (#4327881) Homepage
      and yet they are frequently answered.
      • Re:misnomer (Score:4, Funny)

        by pmancini ( 20121 ) <pmancini.yahoo@com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:44PM (#4328399) Homepage
        Stallman sits in a basement, arguing with himself. He then writes the argument out (bad grammer and all - maybe he should have used a Microsoft product with helpful features like spell check and grammer check.) Finally, the dopes^H^H^H^H^Hfine people at Slashdot decide to give the fool an even bigger audience. *sigh*

        What is a bigger waste of the Internet? Stallman's rants or those Bumfight tapes?
        • Re:misnomer (Score:3, Insightful)

          by glwtta ( 532858 )
          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...

    • 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.

    • Re:misnomer (Score:3, Insightful)

      by salmo ( 224137 )
      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 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.

    • 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 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.

  • 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.


    • 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.


      • 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.

        • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:56PM (#4328541)
          Hey, thanks for asking a question that is specifically answered in the FAQ.

          Hey, thanks for the personal attack without providing anything meaningful to the discussion. My question isn't answered in the FAQ (which I did read). It's mentioned, but it's not answered.

          The FAQ says: "Since a long name such as GNU/X11/Apache/Linux/TeX/Perl/Python/FreeCiv becomes absurd, at some point, you will have to set a threshold and omit the names of the many other secondary contributions. There is no one obvious right place to set the threshold, so wherever you set it, we won't argue against it."

          OK? You read that too before bitching at me, right? So my questions (which were to Perens specifically, BTW) remain asked: Where does one stop? Is there really a compelling reason to advocate ignoring many groups in favor of one? Do people use GNU stuff more than KDE or X or even Perl?

          The FAQ merely says "GNU is the most important secondary component, so we should include it" and Perens advocates using it as well. My point was that the threshold shouldn't be there, so why bother using it?

          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.

          My day's not complete until someone takes the time out of their busy day to whine about how a discussion board shouldn't be used for a discussion.

          Thanks again.

          Blow me.


          • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:48PM (#4329110) Homepage Journal
            The FAQ merely says "GNU is the most important secondary component, so we should include it" and Perens advocates using it as well. My point was that the threshold shouldn't be there, so why bother using it?

            Actually the FAQ says that "The principal developer is the GNU Project" implying that Linux is the secondary component. So, according to GNU/Stallman, you need to give the principle developer recognition. You're free to cut off any secondary developers at any point you choose. Call it GNU, or GNU/Linux, or GNU/Linux/perl, etc.

            I disagree with this assessment. I think that GNU will still be a nice set of free utilities for Solaris if Linux didn't come along. If you ask me the principle project is on Linux distros and it's Linux.

            Now, that's just an opinion. Maybe we should measure somehow. How about lines of code? Check out this [dwheeler.com]. Top project is the kernel.

            Well maybe it's overall contribution? The top 3 pieces of code, are not the GNU project. The first GNU project's contribution is only 15% of the contribution of the top three. 6 of the next 7 projects are GNU projects. Combined they still only account for 69% of the top three projects.

            Ok. Well maybe it should be measured in terms of which code is more frequently resident in memory. Glibc runs a lot, that's for sure. But not as much as the kernel!

            By what measure, other than "we were here first", can GNU make the claim that they're the principle developer?

            I am a supporter of GNU and I agree with almost all of the things that they stand for... including the differentiation of open source from free software. But this silly demand is the stark exception. And it drives me crazy. I wish that they would have simplified the FAQ and put the real reason: "Because we want to ride on the PR coat tails of Linux".

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:14PM (#4329358) Homepage Journal

        Hi, I'm the article submitter. :)

        where does one stop with the attributions?

        Did you read the FAQ? I was hoping a few folks would and think about the ideas presented, even if they don't agree.

        I did a little experiment today; I downloaded all the source code for Linux From Scratch [linuxfromscratch.org], and moved all the GNU code into a directory. The uncompressed GNU code takes up 341648 bytes. The uncompressed Linux code (counting the kernel, the manpages, and modutils) takes up 155872 bytes.

        Since you mentioned X, I uncompressed XFree86 4.1.0 and counted it: 289624 bytes. (I was actually surprised; I expected X to be bigger than GNU.)

        For the record, this is not all the GNU software, either. Emacs, for example, is not counted (that would've put it way over the top), and LFS chooses many alternatives where GNU packages exist.

        Now, when you talk about the tail wagging the dog, if you want to call GNU the tail, the tail is bigger than the dog. :)

        Is the kernel the OS, or are the utils the OS?

        Did you read the FAQ? This issue is addressed. There's some truth to both views.

        Does kernel32 or command.com makes Windows the "Windows OS"?

        That's what GNU is saying. Most people would say the Windows OS consists of those pieces, plus the GUI, plus many utilities. And when you say you got RedHat Linux, do you mean you got the version of Linux, the kernel, distributed by RedHat, or do you mean you got an OS comparable to Windows? Which sense are you using the term OS in there?

    • 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 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 daoine ( 123140 ) <moruadh1013@NoSPaM.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...)

  • by Spoons ( 26950 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:00PM (#4327835) Homepage

    jdavidb writes "The FSF has issued a FAQ about why they believe you should say "GNU/Linux." Surprisingly long." They're certainly... thorough.

    Wow. You know it's a slow day when even the stories are trolls.
  • 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.
  • by greenfield ( 226319 ) <samg+slashdot@unhinged.org> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:01PM (#4327845) Homepage
    Why shouldn't I just use Linux/GNU?

    Can I call it RMS/GNU/Linux?

    Instead of GNU/Linux, can I call it "The bastard stepchild of the GNU project sired by Linus?"

    Can I write GNU/Linux, but pronounce it "Linux?" (The "GNU/" is silent.)

    Can I use Linux as an abbreviation for GNU/Linux?

    Has GNU considered changing their license so that naming disputes like this don't occur in the future? (GNU should really try to protect their code more.)

    ( :-) for the humor impaired. )
  • by Arctic Fox ( 105204 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:01PM (#4327849) Homepage Journal
    If you use Cygwin, does this mean you have to call windows GNU/Cygwin/Windows? GNU/Windows? Bah. I dont understand whats the big deal. Since cars use wheels,should they be called Orrrrg/Cars (or who ever invented the wheel). They also use flames, should they be called Promethious/Autos?
  • GNU: Get over it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Neil Watson ( 60859 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:02PM (#4327864) Homepage
    Wah! wah! wah! call it by my name or I'm taking my toys and going home.

    No one is denying the great tools that GNU provides. I always install various GNU tools on the Sun boxes I work on to keep me from going crazy. Stop acting so childish. It's this kind of behavior that can give Open Source a reputation of being a bunch of "childish geeks."

    • 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.

  • 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 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 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.
  • lignux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sfraggle ( 212671 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:08PM (#4327941)
    Amusingly if you look in the GNU emacs ChangeLog, RMS changed the OS identifier for Linux in Emacs to "lignux" in 1996:

    1996-03-26 Richard Stallman

    * configure.in: Use lignux instead of linux as value of opsys.

    Several months later he changed it again:

    1996-06-21 Richard Stallman

    * configure.in: Rename lignux to linux-gnu in configuration names.
    Use gnu-linux as the opsys value (s/ file name).
    • all of these years. To think I questioned RMS's contribution consisted almost of nothing more than words!

      1996-03-26 Richard Stallman

      * configure.in: Use lignux instead of linux as value of opsys.

      Several months later he changed it again:

      1996-06-21 Richard Stallman

      * configure.in: Rename lignux to linux-gnu in configuration names.
      Use gnu-linux as the opsys value (s/ file name)
  • by gatesh8r ( 182908 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:09PM (#4327972)
    See, we need to make GNU/sure that GNU/Linux is called GNU/Linux for GNU/RMS's GNU/ego.

    GNU/RMS needs to quit GNU/whining about his GNU/OS which will likely not be noticed for a GNU/long time -- GNU/HURD if that ever becomes GNU/serious aside from being a GNU/Debian GNU/distrobution.

  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:11PM (#4328000) Homepage
    Remember, the correct pronunciation of Netcape is "Mozilla". Why can't the correct pronunciation of GNU/Linux be "Linux"? Oh, I forgot... the GNU is never silent. :)

    (Tongue firmly in cheek)
  • by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@sup[ ]ly.net ['paf' in gap]> 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 Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> 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.

    • 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 bill.sheehan ( 93856 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:16PM (#4328058) Homepage
    "Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds."

    'nuff said.

    • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @01:58PM (#4329201)
      They are asking you to CALL it GNU/Linux, not to change it's name! What they are *really* after is the general awareness of GNU's existence. They are not enforcing anything, and even if they can, they won't (as stated in the FAQ).
      You don't have to call it GNU/Linux. If you want to call it just "Linux" and educate the public by explaining the whole story in 10 minutes, go ahead (the FAQ says the same thing).

      Also read this:
      http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html#T OCwhysl ash

      "Following the rules of English, in the construction "GNU Linux" the word "GNU" modifies "Linux". This can mean either "GNU's version of Linux" or "Linux, which is a GNU package." Neither of those meanings fits the situation at hand.

      Linux is not a GNU package; that is, it wasn't developed under the GNU Project's aegis or contributed specifically to the GNU Project. Linus Torvalds wrote Linux independently, as his own project. So the "Linux, which is a GNU package" meaning is not right."
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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 Joe Ottinger (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Real World Stuff ( 561780 ) <real_world_stuff&hotmail,com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:30PM (#4328225) Journal
    Why I Can't Stand the FSF I like open source. I use open source software when it's appropriate. I write open source software, at that, and I'm happy to do so.

    That said, I really, really dislike the Free Software Foundation. When I have a choice between their offerings and someone else's, I nearly always go with the alternatives. I don't use their licenses. I don't defend them, or even their goals, really. In many ways, I'm actively antagonistic.


    It's pretty simple. I thought the FSF rocked until I had to deal with them directly, and the repercussions of that interaction made me reconsider all my assumptions.

    Starting Down the Slippery Slope I was working as a consultant for IBM in 1997, on their ProductManager suite. ProductManager needed a little language, for which I designed a grammar and lexer. When you need a compiler compiler and a lexer, you look at packages in the yacc and lex family... and the best of those, for C, remain the FSF's bison and Vern Paxson's flex. Not only was I trying to do well for IBM, but I was also aiming at using the best products available.

    IBM, understandably, wanted to cover its pockets in the case of liability, so they had me talk to the respective authors to make sure that their code was actually theirs to give away. The reasoning was, as I understand it, that if (say) flex incorporated some copyrighted Microsoft code, and Microsoft discovered that IBM was using that code, Microsoft could sue both the author of flex and IBM. However, if IBM had a signed affadavit from the respective authors that asserted their right to distribute code, then IBM would have done due diligence to protect itself and other companies from illegal activity. It wouldn't have been a full defense, but would be enough to mitigate most damage in court. (The realisation that IBM didn't expect due diligence to be a complete shield was a blow to my faith in civil courts, too, even though that faith was pretty weak to begin with.)

    So I wrote Vern Paxson and the FSF (because Richard Stallman was listed as the author of bison, which surprised me.) Vern got back with me after a few hours, and said he'd be happy to sign a form for us. When I talked to him on the phone and explained the exact situation, he reversed his position, saying that he simply couldn't honestly say that flex had no copyrighted code in it. He didn't think it did, but he wasn't able to get such an assertion from each author.

    That eliminated flex for our project. I didn't mind, for a few reasons: one was that lexers are fairly trivial, and we could replace lex with something feature-comparable; another reason was that Vern was very straightforward about the situation. I got the feeling that he actually considered the needs of his potential userbase.

    A few hours after Vern's initial reply came back, the FSF responded, too. (I was genuinely surprised at how rapid both responses were made.) They said that Richard Stallman was, indeed, the author of bison, and soon we managed to strike up a dialog with him directly.

    Eventually, we were in a conference call with him. I was a little awed, considering that I'd been using some of RMS's tools (like Emacs) for quite some time even then. Basically, we had in mind a sort of quid pro quo, in that we wanted an affadavit signed and he wanted a monetary grant. It was also a chance for the FSF to score points in the courts, since the GPL hadn't been challenged. Our reasoning was that if IBM was using the code, and was challenged, then the FSF would be piggybacking a defense of the LGPL from IBM's defense team.

    RMS would have none of it. What we were asking for, to be clear, was an assertion that the FSF had the right to apply their license to the software they made available. A denial of that assertion undermines their whole reason for being, after all, and we were certainly going to recompense the FSF for making good software available. Instead, RMS refused outright to sign the affadavit, and suggested quite bluntly that ProductManager (which costed IBM millions to develop, and was a pretty vertical product) should be open source, and we could send a check to him at this address, etc.

    I was not impressed. It wasn't so much the open source spiel that bothered me, but the refusal of the assertion. If it was my code, I'd have been happy to say it was mine, as long as I knew (a la Vern Paxson's response). RMS, however, didn't even entertain the thought from the impression he gave us. Instead, he came across as a complete hypocrite, an impression confirmed with further investigation of the FSF's policies and approach. He was effectively implying that he'd stolen the code, and released it as open source just to further his personal views on software source code availability.

    The Air Over There I think the FSF is on crack. They want software to be open-sourced, as a statement of ethics, and yet they advocate strong-arming companies in order to get what they want. They don't want the code, even - they just want all code to be open source, and they're willing to act like brown-shirts to do it.

    If you go to their home page, for example, you see this announcement at the end of the first paragraph:

    Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as ``Linux'', they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems. The opening sentence for the paragraph is "Welcome to the GNU Project web server."


    Not only is the sentence about Linux inappropriate for the paragraph's subject matter, it's retarded. Their justification is something like this: "Linux is just the kernel, and GNU provides the rest of the system that makes the kernel useful, so the name should be GNU/Linux instead of just Linux."

    That's idiotic. For one thing, they're targeting Linux in this, for reasons of publicity only. (Yes, that's right, I just said the FSF was a bunch of publicity whores.) If they were going to be fair about this, they'd apply that reasoning to a lot of software: "GNU/Cygwin," et cetera. To my knowledge, they don't do this. For another, they presume that GNU is central to Linux... and it's not. I know of developers who've created Linux distributions with BSD tools instead of GNU, for example, and the mere fact that it's doable suggests that maybe GNU isn't as critical to Linux as the FSF seems to suggest. Sure, maybe Linus used GNU tools to generate the kernel. Does that mean that every Visual Basic app needs to trumpet "MS/Whatever" as part of its name, too?

    It gets worse. The FSF not only demands recognition (which, by the way, it got plenty of already), but it actively supports piracy, offering this newspeak as a replacement. "Use neutral terms to describe piracy," they suggest, offering "unauthorized copying" as well as "sharing information with your neighbor." Pardon me, fellows, for actually setting the price I want as recompense for my effort. The freedoms the FSF supposedly tries to work for include the rights to say "No, I wrote this with my blood, sweat, and tears, I want $100 for it or you don't have to use it."

    And that brings up another annoyance with the FSF - the GPL. The GPL is a viral license, requiring programs that use GPLed code to be under the GPL themselves. In a way, that makes sense, although most other similar licenses are less militaristic;most of them respect the right of authors to keep their code proprietary, usually requesting links to the source of licensed software. The GPL, on the other hand, says that it's all open, and they choose licenses accordingly.

    To wit, they have a "Lesser GPL," the LGPL, which doesn't have the same viral effect that the GPL does. The FSF has a document, called Why you shouldn't use the Library GPL for your next library (written before the LGPL was renamed to "Lesser GPL"), which explains that the LGPL is used where there's no real reason to rely on the GNU offering. In other words, all the truly useful stuff they have (and there's a good bit of it) is basically bait for the GPL; "use GetOpt, and we have you!"

    That's cowardly, in my opinion, arguing from a position of weakness.

    And that's the FSF for you.

    • 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 gosand ( 234100 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:42PM (#4328379)
    I was really expecting to see this question in the FAQ:

    How come you haven't talked to Red Hat and other companies about changing their references?

    Surely posting a FAQ on a website may get a few people to change, but getting Red Hat to call it Red Hat GNU/Linux would be HUGE.

  • Political views (Score:4, Informative)

    by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:42PM (#4328382) Homepage

    We strongly disapprove of his political views, but we deal with that disagreement honorably and openly, rather than by trying to cut him out of the credit for his contribution to the system.

    If you free that Perl simply cries out for mention, and you want to write GNU/Linux/Perl, go ahead.

    Should we say "GNU/BSD" too?
    BSD systems today use some GNU packages, just as the GNU system and its variants use some BSD programs; however, taken as wholes, they are two different systems that evolved separately.

    jeez ...

    The Raven

  • petty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at. .ivoss.com.> 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.

  • Here's something that many here seem to have overlooked, in their zeal to label Richard Stallman a speech-nazi:

    Why not sue people who call the whole system "Linux"?

    There are no legal grounds to sue them, but since we believe in freedom of speech, we wouldn't want to do that anyway. We ask people to call the system "GNU/Linux" because that is the right thing to do.

    Though I don't think that Linux in general as a reference to all the distributions of Linux should be called GNU/Linux (because some Linux distributions do not use GNU software), I do think that any distribution which uses primarily GNU software along with the Linux kernel should call itself "Distribution GNU/Linux".

    This is really an issue of academic credit and a kind of plaguarism. Due credit should be given to those who created/wrote something. This is the basis of the academic world.
  • by yack0 ( 2832 ) <keimelNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:47PM (#4328438) Homepage
    vi users have put together a FAQ entitled "Why emacs sucks"

    The National Apple Institute released a bulletin on use of pears in food products "Fuck pears!"*

    The Paintball Users Consortium released it's findings on "Why pump guns are better"

    The folks at "Apple Computers Rule!" released a document on "Why Macs are better than PC's"

    Gee, did I miss any completely blatant flame war topics?

    Useless news, stuff that fills the boards up...



    * credit for this to George Carlin, Place for my Stuff album.

  • debian (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bassthang ( 78064 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @12:53PM (#4328511) Homepage
    To be honest, "GNU/Linux" has become interchangable in my mind with "Debian". I know that this is factually incorrect, but thats just how I think of it.
  • 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 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!

  • 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 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 ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.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- autoconf-2.13-17 automake-1.4p5-4
      bash-2.05a-13 bc-1.06-8 binutils- 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

      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 SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <beNO@SPAMeclec.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 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 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.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith