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GNU is Not Unix

GNU Inside? 270

Erbo writes "Is it "Linux," or "GNU/Linux"? For years, that question has been bitterly contended. Now, Jon "Maddog" Hall and others want to resolve this conflict, by creating a "GNU Inside" logo that distros could use on their packaging, Web sites, etc. Will a truce finally be called in this long-running flame war? ZDNet has the details. (Spotted in Linux Today) "
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GNU Inside?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can't they come up with a better idea than a slogan ripped off from Intel?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do, however, have a problem with the GNU tool's quality being co-opted by Linux's popularity. Linux would still be a computer science lab project without the core value of the GNU tools.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Alright folks. Bottom line is, the people who are for GNU/Linux are WHINING. Plain and simple, it's nothing else.

    Yes, it has contributed a lot to the development, existence, etc of Linux. But guess what, that doesn't mean anything. There has been no license breech etc.

    The long and short of it is Linux owes GNU absolutely nothing. Before you start arguing with me please realize that GNU made the choice to be the way it is and distribute the way it has. This choice made, it is completely irrational to constantly beg for credit.

    End of discussion. If you disagree with me, your opinion is wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If it wasn't for Linux, all the energy for the past eight years wouldn't have gone into producing a 1970's monolithic kernel. Other, likely superior, kernels would have been built on the GNU core. The HURD would be several versions older than it is and a major force on the net.

    If Linux wanted to be an ass, he would be arguing with the world's great computer scientists (and their counterports in the commercial sphere) that his monolithic kernel is superior to the microkernels every advanced OS uses. Oh wait! He is!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With Interix (a POSIX core that runs on top of the Windows NT kernel) they include the GNU C compiler as part of the distribution. Interix is VERY commercial stuff, but a dialogue box still pops up at one stage in the installation that urges the user to review COPYING (the GNU notice), to give credit to GNU and the FSF.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >GNU code forms about 10% of a normal distribution. The kernel forms about 1%.

    Counterpoint: Spark plugs make up less than 1% of a car -- but try driving without them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The infamous car analogy... Can we leave this behind? Ever?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That quote is out of context. As I recall, Linus was talking about the ludicrous Lignux name. Here's what he has to say about GNU/Linux (
    Linus: rms asked me if I minded the name before starting to use it, and I said "go ahead". I didn't think it would explode into the large discussion it resulted in... I never felt that the naming issue was all that important
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where is the requirement that your product containing FSF software be named with GNU/whatever? Can anyone show me that language in the GPL? Stallman is all for freedom, except when it includes freedom to name your product, or even speak about something you've worked on.

    I will avoid any future public forum including Stallman, because I want to hear people talking about Linux and free software, not whining about what we should call our OS of choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    : If the BSD distribution used GNU tools, I would ...

    What do you mean if?
    The FreeBSD distribution does use GNU tools.
    You don't believe me? Try typing "gcc" on FreeBSD and see what happens.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmm for the most part gcc is a high quality compiler, the c compiler is extremely ansi conforming.
    And while it is not better than every compiler on the unix market, you have to remember that unix c compilers tend to be provided by the manufacturer of the hw, and as a consequence they don't really have a large dev time spent on them.

    If you have ever had the unfortionate experience of working with the amdahl cc that I had to use for a class at uni, you would understand what I mean..

    - Factory
  • by Anonymous Coward
    because RMS doesn't move on, and keeps insisting that nobody else should either.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So you really think it would have been utterly impossible for someone (not necessarily Linus) to use some other toolset to build Linux? That without GNU ld and ls and rm, it would be impossible to build the OS?

    Wow. I'll be sure to share your staggering proof that the *BSD binutils and libc don't really exist with all my friends. If tools do not exist, people make them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't care how irritating his tone is. If he can't sic the cops on you if you refuse, he can't demand it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why blame RMS for Linux? The GNU utilities (a misnomer, as they're really the core value of Linux) have been around a lot longer than Linux. They're portable, and ported to a diverse bunch of OSes, including Windows NT. It isn't RMS's fault that a 70's-style monolithic kernel like Linux is stunting the free unix scene.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Richard Stallman wants a fair measure of credit for the people he works with who created the GNU core utilities/tools. Credit from all the geeks who would still be running MacOS or MS-OS if the GNU core hadn't existed to give birth to the Linux kernel.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Certainly. And spark plugs are a critical part of my car. However, they are a part of my car, not the whole car, just as the Linux kernel is part of the whole OS, but not the whole OS.
    Hypothetical situation: You design a car. You are starting to work on the spark plugs, when someone brings in a pair of working spark plugs, and goes on to say he made a car. Did he? No. He made spark plugs, and you made most of the car. That's basically what's pissing of Stallman. GNU made most of the OS, including many critical parts, and GNU is not getting recognized. He actually doesn't so much care for GNU to be recognized as free (read: freedom, not economics, so not Open Source) software to be recognized. The way he thinks to do that is by calling it by GNU/Linux. Hey, we need some name for the OS to differentiate it from the kernel, so why not go with that is his logic.
    One of these days, I'll learn more English. For now, pardon my horrible grammar.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know there was one a while back, but this is an interesting new option.

    1. Linux (no GNU)
    2. Linux (GNU inside)
    3. GNU/Linux
    4. GNUlix
    5. Tux in the sky with diamonds
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Linux doesn't help him at all. People don't know what "free" means here, because nobody *mentions* things like the FSF or Project GNU. It's like we're ashamed of our origins, and I don't get it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Show your ignorance.

    Windows is certainly not perfect. But your fiction about it's extreme unusablity just makes you look stupid to people who use it day in and day out to do their work (most people). Granted, you are preaching to the choir here at Slashdot.

    Most people aren't geeks, and don't install new apps every two days or so, and therefore don't run into the 'damage caused by installing applications' that you speak of.

    I personally reinstalled Windows on my main machine at home recently, wiping off the Linux partition. Want to know why? Because I had stuff I wanted to do, and Linux was in the way. Multimedia support on Linux sucks, and you can limp around using the brain-damaged version of Netscape as long as you like. Clue: the Windows version has more features.

    There are still some linux boxes on my home network, but I'm not wasting a keyboard or monitor by plugging it into them, because they're servers, which is the thing a Linux machine is useful for. Long uptime is important on servers, after all. It isn't important on a desktop machine, unless you're one of the people who gets off on how many days your machine has been on without rebooting. The power utilities love those guys, ya know? The rest of us, after awhile, ask "why?"

    But these are wasted keystrokes on my part, because Linux isn't an OS, it's a religion. Stick to your outdated 1980's technology. When history rolls you over you can sit there feeling good that your system hasn't crashed yet. That big rock out in the field is stable too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because people think of the utils as Linux utils, not GNU utils. The funtionality of the tools impress people, making them think how wonderful Linux is, when they should also be thinking about how wonderful the GNU utils, and the philosophy that created them, are.

    Linux has indeed been extremely positive for GNU, but the reverse is also true. The Linux name, as a means of encompassing entire distros, uses the functionality of both Linux and GNU (and the other guys like X11 of course) for the sole purpose of crediting Linux. You don't see credits to GNU until you start reading ``COPYING'' or some other files.

    X11 could also demand some respect, but it isn't as important as GNU is, and if they choose not to, why should that force rms not to seek recognition for GNU and the software model which created it? At least with X1111 you know you're using X11; with ls, you have no idea who created it, unless you do a `man ls' or something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:18AM (#1888126)
    You can have a useable system without X. It's possible to boot without X. It's not possible to boot and run ANY program without GNU. It's also not possible to boot and run ANY program without Linux. It is possible with the two combined. Therefore, they are both core components of the OS.
    That's the most conservative defining line of the OS. More liberal definitions might include X and what not, but that's not terrible relevant; the point is that GNU is a core component of the OS by any definition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @07:53AM (#1888127)
    "The idea of a slogan that we and the "Linux" people could agree on is an interesting idea, and I would be glad to do that. However, that would be in parallel with using the name "GNU/Linux" to inform people about the origin and nature of the system."

    He likes the slogan idea but only as a _supplement_ to people calling it GNU/Linux, not as a compromise. He still wants top billing.

    Opinion time: I think he really is miffed at the attention Linus T. gets and so jumps up and down and yells "Me too! Me too!" How very childish.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @04:04AM (#1888128)
    I have no problem with GNU (and Richard Stallman) getting the credit
    they deserve. Indeed: since peer recognition is a large part of the
    reason that open source folk do what they do, this is highly

    I do, however, have a problem with Linux's popularity being co-opted
    by the FSF. Co-opted as in insisting that "Linux" be referred-to as

    Perhaps "GNU Inside" branding would be a good compromise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:16AM (#1888129)
    Most people understand these, but enough don't that I thought I would post them:
    • GNU code forms about 10% of a normal distribution. The kernel forms about 1%.
    • In even the most conservative definition, an operating system is defined as what is needed to boot up a computer and run programs. By that def'n, we need the Linux kernel and GNU software. libc/glibc was written by the FSF, is about the same size as the kernel, and there is no way to boot without it. Throw in bash, and all of the other utilities needed to start the system, and you've got an OS (less conservative def'ns of OS include pretty much the whole distribution; either way, GNU forms a major part of it).
    • It is a heck of a lot easier to swap out the kernel and swap in a new one as it would be to swap out the GNU stuff. Linux was replaced by Hurd in Debian without any significant problems. You'd need to major port almost all of the programs to use a different C library and compiler. You'd also need to rewrite all the start-up scripts not to use GNU utilities. To the end user, it would also behave much more differently than swapping out a kernel.
    • Stallman has never worked on Hurd, and doesn't care that much about Hurd anymore. He pretty much realizes the Linux kernel is standard.
    • Stallman has quirks, but he's not quite the wierdo/freak people make him out to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:32AM (#1888130)
    Of course, one of the only people who actually knows how things are has a email address! The point is not that RMS has "won" by having GNU software distributed with Linux to millions of computers. That's not the point. If people don't realize what the software is about, he hasn't won anything. It's tough enough convincing people that Linux doesn't actually cost anything. It's even more difficult to convince them that it's even more free than that. RMS is trying to force that issue, and I for one salute him. Now I'm not calling it GNU/Linux, and I probably never will. GNU by itself is a very, very cumbersome "word", and that's only worse. But at least I know what GNU is and I try to evangelize it as much as I can. And I would be more than happy to have such a sticker on my box (though the official gnu from is very ugly :))

    1. It does not matter that Linux is not GNU.
    2. It does not matter that all of the software on Linux is not GNU.
    3. It does not matter that much of the software on Linux is GNU.

    It's the ideas behind it, and FSF is very good at promoting those ideas. That isn't to say Linus isn't, but that's not his main goal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:07AM (#1888131)
    Credit and name recognition are rewards. Money is a reward. Xerox probably tried to keep Stallman from learning its printer controller source code (thus compelling him to found the FSF) because it wanted money out of him. The free software model he created necessarily misallocates money; not everyone who deserves the money for coding something receives that money.

    Now, RMS has never tried to berate people into donating money to the FSF -- he does solicit donations, and actively encourages people to contribute, he doesn't insist on it. When people in an audience say "I just bought a Redhat system," he doesn't say, "Write the FSF a check for the same amount, right now, or I won't answer your question."

    But now that something that really matters to him is at stake -- credit for GNU -- he insists on getting it. (At least he's trying to coerse people by annoying them into submission, and not by forcing folks to sign binding agreements.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:18AM (#1888132)
    I don't really understand RMS's insistence on prepending GNU to Linux. I don't want to belittle the contribution that the GNU utilities have played and continue to play in the success of the Linux operating system. However, from a technical standpoint there is nothing that sets GNU apart from other (commercially available) Unix tools (modulo some bugs here and there, but that cuts both ways).

    So why is GNU important then? Because it's released under the (L)GPL.

    How much code has been written by RMS and other key members of the FSF? Quite a bit, and some very significant bits, but the currenct feature rich and relatively bug free state of GNU is also due to a whole community that has been using and improving GNU tools since the eighties. Again, this would not have been possible without the GPL.

    So the FSF should not strive to take explicity credit for things that a whole community contributed to. They should take credit where credit is due, namely for creating the legal and intellectual framework that enabled this and other outstanding worldwide collaborations.

    Instead of "GNU Inside", I suggest GPL Inside, or something more verbose and less Intelish such as "This CDROM contains software freely licensed under the GPL and other open source licences" or whatever is more sexy.

    Some final remarks: As a fluent but non-native speaker of English, the word GNU, especially when used in place of "new" really turns my stomach. Also, I have been using GNU utilities from the first day I worked on proprietary Unices about 10 years ago. I like Emacs very much, and also used a lot of GNU replacements, in particular gcc, for proprietary software, mainly because documentation was easily available (ever tried to find the original manual of commercial software in a University lab?) and they just performed consistently and well across platforms. Still, I'd never imagined saying I was using GNU/AIX or GNU/SunOS, even though I was very aware that my most important tools where GNU's. So what's the big deal about GNU/Linux?

  • libc5 derives from the GNU libc1...

    And, the fact is that the distros do use bash, and not, say, ash.

    You could indeed boot up a system with the linux kernel and no GNU stuff (say, with BSD stuff). But then it would clearly not be a Linux-and-GNU-based system.


  • NOTE: this is not a flame against any girls/women out there. I actually have a lot of respect for women in general.
    Then I complained about emacs LISP, and he actually told me that any secretary could learn it. ROTFL!!!

    Yes, any secretary can learn emacs lisp. Most of those girls going under the job description of `secretary' are anything but. They're usually just receptionists (often lousy ones, at that) and do not have anywhere near the abilities of a secretary. These girls can barely operate a computer (ie turn it on, ok a bit harsh, they can type a letter in word) and can't think their way out of a hoola-hoop. Real secretaries actually do quite a lot: take dictation, though probably not as much these days; organise meatings; type letters; organise the company/department (depending on level) in general (eg getting their boss's message out to the workers). Basicly, they take care of all the little details. All this requires intelligence and a form of programming skills. A secretary should have no trouble whatsoever learning any programming language that your slightly better than average programmer can learn easily.

    Don't judge secretaries by the trash ther're being replaced with. A good secretary is like a good Unix admin: can do the job of 5-10 `regular' secretaries (NT admins (NOTE: there are good NT admins out there, they're just as rare as hen's teeth)), and is about as expensive. This is probably why you have a low opinion of secretaries: the good ones are hidden by all the mediocre to bad ones.

  • Alright folks. Bottom line is, the people who are for GNU/Linux are WHINING. Plain and simple, it's nothing else.

    Any you're not whining? Almost all I see is whining about `it must be gnu/linux' and `it must not be gnu/linux'. About the only posts I've ever seen not whining are the ones pointing out that RMS isn't advocating calling the kernel GNU/Linux.

  • We could just call it the GNU OS and get it over with. Except for the kernel replacing the as-yet-unfinished HURD, it's the GNU OS. Sure, it's technically GNU/Linux, but just saying "GNU" is a lot faster. Hopefully HURD will get done soon so we won't have this problem anymore.
  • Oh and while you are at it really is about time GNU was changed to GNL (GNL is Not Linux). Both entity's are capable of standing alone without eachother, tho they would both be lacking in a great many things we take for granted. It was just a happy coincidence that both evolved at the same time missing some important entity, namely eachother. If GNU actually had developed the Linux kernel not only the utilities and application I would be happy to attach the GNU label on it.
  • Posted by JoeyRamone:


    Is it just me, or is that some sort of violation of Intel property ??
  • Posted by JoeyRamone:

    Question is, would you be able to use Linux without all those wonderful toys GNU gives us ????

    Personally I don't think so, but hey that's just me :-)...
  • Posted by Buffy the Overflow Slayer:

    It's not like Linux just takes the GNU tools and gives nothing back. Alot of the effort spent in expanding the current GNU utilities, and developing new GNU programs are due to peoples involvement in Linux.

    BTW, when Linus started Linux, there were other free c compilers other than gcc, which was the main piece of GNU software Linus used at the beginning. The existence of the GNU tools sped up the development of Linux, but it still could have occurred without them. Heck, he could have used the BSD tools instead.

  • GNU/Linux is awkward. Too long, difficult to pronounce and after all not even right:
    It would be logical to call it:

    GNU-BSD-etc..etc../Linux, or even

    (i just invented the numbers - they don't mean anything)

    I know it sounds stupid - It is.

    On the other hand, "GNU inside" sticker sounds like a good idea:

    Short, easy to pronounce, nice little sticker and above all truth - There really is a lot of GNU stuff inside any Linux distribution.
  • by Vorx ( 876 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @04:43AM (#1888143)
    Maybe this will end up working. I'd much rather have a cool GNU sticker than deal with the tongue-twisting GNU/Linux deal.

    And something else I was musing on... The way I interpret things in the free software community, is that you write code that fills a niche that you see, and you get credit from your peers for doing it. Going by this, I really don't understand where RMS/GNU is coming from... After all, just about any competent admin is going to ditch the (usually crappy) tools that ship with their OS of choice and install the GNU tools... By doing so, they know about GNU, they now the quality of the tools they are choosing to use, why must we have the GNU name forced down our throats? It's not like there are many unix-types that don't know about the GNU tools... So, to me, since GNU already has the respect of its users / peers, who are they trying to get here with all this incessent cheerleading?

    Anyway, long paragraph. Rant mode off.

  • I don't think RMS ever said that "It's a GNU system with a Linux kernel until HURD comes out." I think that was a facetious reference that they made up in the article to illustrate the way that they perceive Stallman's attitudes about Linux.
  • > If GNU can adopt the XFree86 windowing system,

    They didn't. Show me even a mention of this on XFree86 isn't even under the GPL or LGPL, it uses the X license.
  • And this is good. The whole debate, brought periodically out into the open, so to speak - in forums like this keeps what has gone into Linux in the public eye. For me, it's been Linux, and will remain so - but then again who the fsck cares what I call it, but for others this is not enough. So be it. The important thing is that most of us know the history and the contributions RMS has made because we care enough about the OS to find out what goes into it. New users, at first, may not know. But, the more new users use Linux, *BSD, what-have-you, the more, little by little they, too, will learn about their roots. That is, if they care enough to read around and learn. Some new users won't. The important thing is to keep this debate going and not dismiss RMS because he at times acts - to some folks - less than rational about the name. He is important for both his contributions to the software, but also because of his philosophical ideas that are behind the creation of the software. I don't agree with some of the things he believes in; I won't call it GNU/Linux, but I sure as heck respect the man's courage in taking a sometimes unpopular stance. Just as I sure as heck admire Linus' pragmatic approach to most things political.
  • In case people don't look at the logo... it's a GIANT Gnu stand over a very small penguin.
    I think he's going to eat the penguin or crap on him. ;)
  • "Join with me, and together we can end this destructive conflict, and rule the galaxy as Penguin and GNU..."

    Yes, I know, it's horrible, and I was being cynical about Star Wars yesterday, but it had to be done...
    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

  • If the BSD distribution used GNU tools, I would
    still be using Linux... I'm using Linux, GNU is
    along for the ride, however I do realise that
    a large majority of the code I rely on is GNU.

    I would like to credit GNU and RMS, but it easy to
    see why people are upset when changing the name
    to gnulix or even GNU/Linux are suggested. I think
    that a GNU Inside logo would be great... I'd use it
    and LIKE it... which is the point really.
  • "Just" utilities? Utilities like Bash and ls?
    Look carefully, and you'll realise that GNU is a lot of what you love about Linux.
    BTW, I think the "GNU Inside" logo is a brilliant idea. Perhaps it needs rewording, to avoid the blatant Intel "tribute".
  • Perception is everything, and evidently no marketing department means we're percieved as a less 'serious' distribution. *shrug* I've given up worrying about it, there's no point in yelling "Debian is serious" every time a mistake is made. People just label you a fanatic.

  • Personally, I think that it really is the GNU system (although I call it Linux when comminicating with other people so they understand what I'm saying) However, AFAIK none of the 'adopted' programs have been 'adopted' over the protests of their maintainers. (please correct me if I'm wrong) Many Linux developers say the least..rather hostile to RMS & Co and don't want their work to be called GNU. So GNU/Linux is a reasonable comprimise (IMO) that gives Linux a share of the credit too.

  • In fact, the Linux kernel has already been replaced in many situations. For example, FreeBSD, BSDI, Solaris x86, and SCO Unix all have Linux emulation. There is even a company (Softway?) selling a product to allow Windows NT to run Linux applications. Thus the Linux system still functions without the Linux kernel.
  • Linus worked in the Linux kernel; nothing more. The kernel is his, no problem; the typical Linux system is not his; and he is not in a position to claim anything but the kernel.
  • If the FSF job is fighting ignorance and apathy they have an uphill battle. No one outside the hacker community cares what gcc is, much less who wrote it.

    While it is certainly true that there are some people who use Linux that don't know what the FSF is, it is also true that there are tens of thousands of people who only know of the FSF because Linus Torvalds wrote a free kernel to host all of those nifty tools.

    I personally am one of those people. I would NEVER have known about the FSF if it weren't for Linux.

    Heck, I even agree with RMS in that it is important that the freedom of Linux needs to be stressed. But this argument has gotten to the point where it is doing RMS's cause harm, and I don't care if Saint Ignucius started this whole GPL bandwagon, it's now officially bigger than one person.
  • by Kojo ( 1903 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @08:19AM (#1888156) Homepage Journal
    After all, just about any
    competent admin is going to ditch the (usually crappy) tools that ship with their OS of choice and install the GNU tools...not...many unix-types that don't know about the GNU tools... So, to me, since GNU already has the respect of its users / peers, who are they trying to get...with...cheerleading?
    Emphasis by Kojo

    I think the point is this: The popularity of Linux has brought the GNU tools and software to a whole new audience. Most of these new people are not Unix types or Sys Admins. These are Windows people and Linux is being presented as a viable desktop alternative to Windows. These people normally don't know or care about who wrote their software. The GNU tools come from the Unix tradition, and a large part of that includes sharing source code and free (as in speech) software. This philosophy is something completely foreign to the largest new audiences for Linux: Corporations, used to buying whatever MS and it's competition put out for them and Personal users who think their only choices in software must be purchased. One of the reasons the FSF exists to give people options when it comes to software. Unix types have always known these options existed. The newcomers are having to be introduced to this concept. As one of the main promoters of this idea, I think the FSF feels the need to make people aware of who and what they are, what they stand for, what they have to offer and how users can benefit from it.
    This may sound a little 'Pollyanna', but I think FSF is a good thing that people should know about. In the media explosion surrounding Linux, the GNU project, and more importantly the choices it provides, seems to get lost in the sauce.

    It's good to be out of school for a few weeks. I can actually participate in /. Only 13 days until the PhD program begins. I'll be using GPL'd software and GNU tools there too.

  • by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @12:55PM (#1888157)
    This is interesting because it reflects my views quite closely: GNU/Linux would be a proper name to give to a GNU distribution released under the auspiscies of The GNU Project. However it is not so simple: Not only is GNU the name of a free "not Unix" operating system, but it also embodies the idea of such a thing.

    ANY free operating system that is compatible with Unix could be called GNU. All "Linux" distributions meet this requirement to a large extent (though some, like Suse have an uncomfortable amount of non-free code), and calling them GNU/Linux is not incorrect. Of course, neither is calling them "foo", but if the idea of software freedom is important to the distribution bundler, the GNU moniker should be adopted because it came first.

    Futhermore, there are other reasons why the name GNU/Linux should be adopted:

    1) Much of the core O/S code is GNU code (that is produced under the auspiscies of the GNU project). Without it nothing runs but the kernel. the same is not true of, say, X: lots of systems do not use a GUI.

    2) Technically, if we separate the core O/S code into kernel and non-kernel parts, adopting a / convention makes a certain amount of sense: certainly we can envision GNU/Hurd, or BSD/Linux.

    3) RMS deserves credit. This is not a rational reason, but an emotional one. Still, if we wish to credit the man for his work, and are producing a free O/S distribution, calling it GNU/Linux is the right thing to do. I suppose this is Debian's reasoning.

    In my discussions with RMS, I pointed out that trying to encourage the use of a proper noun that others don't like, in the face of an already popular moniker is difficult, and encouraging the use of GNU as an adjective instead might meet with greater acceptance. However, this flies in the face of the valid technical argument above (as RMS gently pointed out to me).

    To his credit, in "Open Sources", RMS does appear to take this approach, when talking about "GNU/Linux systems". He as also reminded me that GNU, as an adjective already has a specific meaning: software produced under the auspiscies of the GNU project. (I suppose that their release of a GNU system on a Linux kernel would then be called "GNU GNU/Linux"). "GNU Linux" without the slash isn't acceptable: it would mean a Linux kernel release produced by the GNU project.

    To those that say that GNU/Linux is too much of a mouthful, the response could be "Well, just call it GNU, then." It all comes down to what you want to convey: a particular distribution, or an instance of a free operating system. The latter really does deserve the GNU moniker. It should not be a surprise that RMS appears to care more about conveying the idea of software freedom than market branding.

    As for RMS being a stubborn crank, supposedly insulted by use of the Linux momiker when talking about a GNU/Linux system in his presense: I have to strongly disagree. I made the honest mistake of calling Debian's distribution "Debian Linux" when it is clearly called "Debian GNU/Linux" (in email), and he simply asked me to use the correct name, please. He did not insist that I call Red hat's distribution "Red hat GNU/Linux", though I'm sure he'd like me to (I made clear why I do not, and he did not seam miffed in any way -- disappointed perhaps, but that did not come across.). Methinks stories of his arrogance are just plain FUD.

    RMS and I are not in perfect agreement about what should be called GNU/Linux. He has convinced me to encourage others to consider calling their Linux distributions GNU/Linux to reflect the technical nature of the system as well as stress it's free nature as well (and this I do). It is possible to engage the man in debate without having to be in perfect agreement.

    Bottom line: If RMS, the father of the modern renaissance of free software, says that he named a free Unix-like operating system "GNU", and wants others to use that name, I am not about to argue that he is wrong, only that people aren't required to heed this particular wish. I suspect that some people want to call some free operating systems something else and get RMS blessing to do so. This ain't gonna happen. RMS has stated his position and is standing by it. It's funny that others seam to be uncomfortable disagreeing with him. Perhaps they are not as sure of their convictions as he is?

  • by myo ( 2150 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @11:42AM (#1888158)
    Personally, i don't understand what people argue about. Let me give some analogies.

    There's an operating system floating around called "Windows," created by a company named Microsoft. Since this name (Windows) is a rather generic one, the OS is usually referred to as Microsoft Windows, MS-Windows, or something of the like. This is mainly to ensure that when it is referred to in (possibly overheard) conversation, others don't get the wrong impression and assume that high(ish) intellectuals are indeed speaking of various sheets of glass.

    As it happens, there is another operating system floating around called "MacOS," another wildly imaginative title, additionally descriptive, and referring to its own purpose in life, which is to act as the operating system for Macintosh machines. The company that makes this operating system and these machines is called Apple, and the machines themselves are oddly often referred to as Apple Macintosh machines (though Macintosh Apple is arguably better grammar). The Apple Macintosh machines have little to do with the point here; the main point is the name of the operating system MacOS. Rarely is MacOS referred to as Apple MacOS, as the name itself describes what it is. No one will mistake MacOS for an operating system that runs on macintosh apples, McDonald's Big Macs, MAC semis, or MAC machines. There is no need to call the OS Apple MacOS, so the Apple is left out of most conversations completely.

    Yet another interesting, floating OS is something named "BeOS," equally as imaginitive a name as "MacOS," yet offering nicer slogans. This operating system was written by a company named Be, and was indeed named after the company itself -- along with the BeBoxes it was intended to operate. Here too, there is no "Be BeOS," as that would be tacky and annoyingly redundant. As far as mistaking the operating system for something unrelated, well, many people may not have an idea what the OS is, and most others may have not yet tried it, but rarely do people volunteer that you may have indeed meant "cabbage" or "beehive" or something similar.

    Well, this brings us to the point of Linux. If you choose to think of the GNU community as... well, maybe not the creators, but at least partners in the development of Linux, you don't have to include the name. No one is going to mistake Linux for a geometric expression or a type of car (well, some might, but there's not a lot you can do if that's the case). Until someone replaces everything GNU on a linux system with other software and distributes it, there will be no need to add a GNU to the name of Linux. It is honestly understood.

    If you'd like to be a little more argumentative about it, GNU utilities are not restricted to Linux. I run a number of GNU utilities on the Solaris systems i administer, and i much prefer them to those written by Sun. FreeBSD encorporates a number of GNU utilities into their distributions. I've even gutted windows and replaced its shell (explorer) with tcsh, using many GNU utilities for its interface, when i was stuck with a windows 95 machine. I suppose i could have called this GNU/Windows, but why? I honestly don't understand the argument.
  • I've replaced the corresponding binaries on many/most of the Solaris systems I've administrated with the FSF versions... I run Win32 ports of most of them under Windows when I have the misfortune of having to use it.

    Not once when someone asked me what platform I was running did I say, oh I've got a GNU/Windows desktop machine and my server is an UltraSparc2 running GNU/Solaris.

    This whole argument is completely rediculous, and about RMS being unhappy that when "Open Source" hit it big, it wasn't because of the Hurd project.

    I wonder if RedHat or one of the other companies compiled their distribution using another compiler, like Metrowork's upcoming CodeWarrior compiler, would he still object to just calling it Linux?

    Is he upset about the fact that 1/10th of an average distribution is FSF code? Is he upset that all of it is compiled with his utilities? Should Quake have been called GNU/Quake, being compiled with DJGPP? He's bitching a lot about this and not really being all that clear why and what he really wants.

    It seems unreasonable to even ASK that Linux be called GNU/Linux if its based on the fact that FSF tools are being used to build the software, since, as I said, he didn't gripe about Quake, or any of the other programs using them.

    If its the fact that FSF code makes up some small but significant portion of an average Linux distribution, I'd think calling it XFree86/Linux makes more sense. I've got more X crap on here than FSF. Hell, I've got more Mozilla stuff on here than FSF.
  • Hold the boat a bit... RMS never asked anyone to call the Linux kernel "GNU/Linux". The Linux kernel was written by Linus Torvalds, and RMS is cool with that. What RMS is miffed about is the kernel makes up about 5% of an average "Linux" system, while GNU tools make up about 30% of it, and that the system still bears the name "Linux" (appearantly giving no credit to FSF for the GNU portion). RMS is claiming that the Linux system (including all the GNU tools... not just the kernel) should be called "GNU/Linux". I'm still not sure where I stand on the issue, but I think that a "GNU Inside" logo is a good compromise.

    Loren Osborn

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:18AM (#1888171) Homepage Journal
    ...just as soon as FreeBSD gets renamed GNU/BSD. I run emacs and the CygWin ports on my NT laptop - should I call it a GNUtop?

    The whole debate is silly. Linux is Linux, BSD is BSD, HURD can be the GNU/OS or whatever they want to call it. The kernel and design should be sufficient to determine the name. Hey - SCO owns the SVR5 code from which (theoretically) all *NUXes spring (in design if not in code) - maybe we should call the GNU (when a HURD-derived version ships) SCOGNUX! Or POSIXGNUX! I hope I made a point here without making anyone's head explode from bad acronyms.

    My bottom line: Linux is a great operating system, built by a group of brilliant people, using the terrific GNU tools and utilities. And no Unix would be complete without them. But RMS really needs to take his ball and go home on this one. Anybody who knows anything about Linux understands the magnitude of RMS's contribution to the software world and knows Linux would probably not have existed without him. Now please make all this go away!

    What's in a name, anyway? A rose, by any other name, would still wither and die...
  • Actually, it should be recursive too...

    Maybe something like GNU Now Underneath?
  • Last I heard, HURD (when it runs at all) had incorporated some Linux code. So should we call it Linux/HURD?

    I dunno. I'm ok with the idea of a "GNU Inside" sticker. I'm not ok with RMS's particular interpretation of "free software" when it means "you can use our software as long as you aggressively promote our name". The only other software group I'm aware of that insists on such visible name recognition is Microsoft *cough*
  • ... with such a move is that it relies on people to use it to work. I know this is a stupid statement, but it is what I percieve as a fundamentel truth ;)
    I wonder if peoiple will still say "but 90% isn't GNU" as they do with the GNU/Linux debate (which, btw, I don't take a side on - I don't care.), or just ignore it completely.
    We now return you to your regular gnu flamewar. (/sarcasm)
  • by itp ( 6424 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @03:56AM (#1888178)
    It would be really nice to see and end to this fairly stupid and devisive conflict. I understand many people's annoyance at being asked to call their Linux box GNU/Linux, but at the same time, I think that the FSF does deserve credit here. It's not just RMS looking for the limelight; a lot of people have put in a lot of time, from the early 80s to today, to create a damn fine collection of essential utilities. Utilities that, without which, much other free software would never have been written. Utilities that are far and away better than their counterparts on other UNIXes. I think the LOC argument is misleading; how much of our current software base would exists without things like a compiler, a C library, a linker, shells, editors, etc etc? I agree that it's dumb to have to trip over my tongue to say the name of my operating system, but at the same time, let's honestly recognize those who have put in thousands of hours of work for our benefit.

    Ian Peters
  • From Why Software Should Be Free []:

    Those who benefit from the current system where programs are property offer two arguments in support of their claims to own programs: the emotional argument and the economic argument.

    The emotional argument goes like this: ``I put my sweat, my heart, my soul into this program. It comes from me, it's mine!''

    This argument does not require serious refutation. The feeling of attachment is one that programmers can cultivate when it suits them; it is not inevitable. Consider, for example, how willingly the same programmers usually sign over all rights to a large corporation for a salary; the emotional attachment mysteriously vanishes. By contrast, consider the great artists and artisans of medieval times, who didn't even sign their names to their work. To them, the name of the artist was not important. What mattered was that the work was done--and the purpose it would serve. This view prevailed for hundreds of years.

    So why can't RMS be like "the great artists and artisans of medieval times"? The name GNU implies RMS. He wants it be called GNU/Linux for his own personal gratification. It's as simple as that.

    I think the writers of free software do deserve credit. But according to RMS, people don't deserve, nor should they desire, credit for their work. According to him, that's just an excuse for proprietary non-free software. Yet when it comes to his own foundation's name, he demands that people give the FSF, and hence RMS, credit. That seems awfully hypocritical to me.
  • I agreed with the notion that GNU should not co-opt the Linux branding and maybe in the long run its not in GNU's own self interest to be linked too close to Linux. With the GNU inside logo they can build a mindshare of their own that can spill over to OS's like BeOS, BSD etc. "GNU inside" stands for Quality and compatibility , much like Intel Inside is now. Strong GNU brand can only help Open-Source and SW vendors can use this as their "Windows logo" replacement.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @07:48AM (#1888184)

    "... Utilities that are far and away better than their counterparts on other UNIXes ..."

    What? Ever benchmarked gcc against a commercial compiler?

    Well, yes, but there are other aspects to the point.

    Would you rather have GNU find with, for example,
    the constraint options -mindepth -maxdepth, or
    the find that ships with solaris which lacks these? Would you prefer something like ncftp,
    or do you enjoy the default ftp client? Are you
    so enamoured of the stock vi that you don't want the luxury of something like elvis or vim?
    How about sh rather than zsh or bash?

    The point is that GNU (and many other libre) utilities are (for the most part) far and away better than their counterparts.
    After using them, they make the originals look like utter crap.
  • At the time I posted my reply, the note I'm replying to was rated "5". Why?

    NiceGuy has written a flame, saying nothing that hasn't been said before on Slashdot. Now, he has a right to his opinion, but moderation isn't supposed to be about "I agree/I disagree".

    No new facts are presented; worse, the posting puts quotes around statements that are not being made (RMS has never claimed that Linux is good only as a stop-gap), an unethical technique in a debate (it's called a straw man argument).

    The purpose of moderation is to try to move the gems to the front. This was not a gem; a similar posting that made the opposite point would also not be a gem.

  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @08:19AM (#1888187) Homepage

    RMS is not claiming that the GPL requires the name GNU/Linux to be used, so it is nonsense to claim that he is somehow making a mockery of the GPL.

    RMS appears to want attention to be focused on GNU for two purposes, and credit is the less important of those two purposes (though I think it is more important to him than he admits). His more important purpose seems to be to get people to think of themselves as developing a GNU system in the sense that every program on that system would be free software -- that Linux not just be yet another platform like Windows or BeOS that software companies port all their software to and every significant program is proprietary software.

    RMS seems to think that if he gets people to say GNU/Linux, people will then ask "What is GNU", and then when they find out, they will get excited about the free software message. Like any good activist, he doesn't care if he pisses people off ... sometimes I think he thinks if he hasn't pissed anyone off lately, he isn't doing his job as an advocate.

    As for me, I don't think that all software must be free, but I think that more free software is a good thing, and that without RMS making noise and annoying people and inspiring other like-minded people, the trend in the Linux community would quickly be to just try to be another platform for proprietary software developers. That's a losing goal, since Microsoft is much better at that.

  • by Rotten ( 8785 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @04:17AM (#1888189) Journal
    There's something stupid and something important about this "how should we call it" war.
    The silly part is that a name is not really important, linux could be named Freenux and our lives would continue the same. A name is not important, the important is what describes and in the "thing" we should put our efforts, not in how to call it. There's a long way to go, things to be made and remade but we can cut this stupid flame war and turn people's heads to what's important.
    GNU made a BIG contribution to free software, but if people forgets that is people's fault (who usually is very ungratefull).
    IMHO, Linux is Linux, GNU is GNU and BOTH of them create an enviroment that we can call GNU/LINUX, but please leave the option to people (yes that ungratefull people)

    Just my 2 cents
  • Has anyone read Stallman's originaly essay on `why I must write GNU'? Note that this is not `why I must form a group called GNU or FSF', but, `why I must write an operating system called GNU'.

    Actually, Stallman wrote:
    GNU, which stands for Gnu's Not Unix, is the name for the complete Unix-compatible software system

    Anyone who hasn't read the original GNU (`g'noo', not `noo') manifesto really should--see []
  • by afniv ( 10789 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:05AM (#1888200) Homepage
    Pronounce GNU/Linux with the GNU being silent, so it would sound like "Linux". Now to solve the extra typing.

    Seriously, I have to agree with other comments regardng "where to stop". I think my Linux installation uses more than just GNU. I use my VIM editor more than any other tool, so maybe I'll call my Linux VIM/Linux. After all, developers needed an editor to create the source for GNU.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • Linus worked in the Linux kernel; nothing more. The kernel is his, no problem; the typical Linux system is not his; and he is not in a position to claim anything but the kernel.

    So now you're back to calling it GNU/XFree86/Cheeseplant/Spanner/Linux or whatever. If you're taking the line that the GNU project should be mentioned because of its contribution, then all contributors should be so mentioned, otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

    Or you could quote RMS' line about "The GNU project adopted XFree86". Fine. The Linux project adopted GNU. So it's called Linux.

    I think the sticker is a nice compromise - I think it's more likely to promote awareness of the GNU project than insisting on a more complicated pronunciation of the name of the OS. Human nature tends towards simplification of names - "Bob" from "Robert", "Win95" from "Microsoft Windows 95" (which is, after all, the name on the box) and "Linux" from "GNU/Linux".

    Plus a cool logo/slogan works better than deliberately injecting naffness into a name.

  • "Boomshakalakalaka/Linux"?
    Yeah, I vote for that one! Sounds way cooler than 'GNU/Linux' :-).

    belbo (oh my, another zero level post...)

  • until the dominate OS(s) are free (as is free speech and free beer). The problem is this - If you base your income around your OS that you sell (ie MS, Be, etc), you want to maintain control of it. Further, becuase your OS is your cash-cow, you need to make sure that it remains different from other systems so that you can keep give folks a reason to change/stay with your OS (this happend to commercial Unix). Also, if you control the system API, you control who writes software for your OS (much like MS does with the Win32 API). Once your OS complies with the one "OPEN standard", it becomes a comadity (like gas - since when did you choose a gas station based on service or quality of fuel? - there mostly the same) and the OS with the lowest price wins (and you no longer have your cash-cow). So I see the acceptance and adoption of Linux/FreeBSD/NetBSD/etc as a prerequisite to this happening.
  • by Natedog ( 11943 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @11:22AM (#1888211)
    I had no idea what GNU or the FSF was before I started using Linux (I didn't even know it existed). It wasn't until I started reading the COPYING, man, info, source files, etc, etc, that came with my distro (some couple years ago) that I started wondering what GNU was. It didn't take long for me to answer my own question (one search on the net was more than enough). From those days on, I have been a OSS/FSF fanatic. I know there are many others like me out there - for this reason, the FSF owes much to the Linux community (just as the Linux community has felt in debt to the FSF and has promoted the use of FSF utilities). In this sense, the GNU-Linux relationship is just that, a relationship - both complement and need each other. Linux users are probably the biggest supporters of the FSF and Linux wouldn't be as far along w/o the FSF.

    That said, I'm getting really tired of this flame war. Why take a chance of slowing the Linux momentum by changing the name - this would hurt both GNU and Linux. The FSF will naturally recieve more donations as Linux grows because Linux is so tied to GNU and companies that want to further Linux (ie IBM, Intel) can do so by funding the FSF.

    If anything, RMS should work on his on distro or Linux standard that is based on GNU. (ie GNU/Linux 1.0 complient) - in a sence, something like POSIX. This makes a lot more sense than trying to brand the kernel, which has very little to do with GNU

  • I believe this represents a decay in the spirit of free software. Once upon a time, before I got involved, before it became a power in itself, it was a fantastic tool and toy. Now, it is being reduced to a bunch of dogma by those who seek to benefit personally from it. It all revolves around the issue of "Who owns free software?" The only answer that can preserve its spirit, that can prevent it from degenerating into a status symbol or a bitter contest is "Everyone."

    No one seems to be getting the central issue here. It's not about the hard work of the members of the FSF, or the XFree86 Team, or Linus and his cadre of kernel hackers, or any other group. It's about the whole, the atmosphere, the new great wonder of the world that a vast network of individuals has created. But I can't be surprised about what has happened. People want power. People like exclusive groups. Free software, to these people, has either become too accessible or too far out of their grasp.

    Item 1: Accessibility. Many (not necessarily most, and certainly not all) *BSD users have cited that they have fled to it because "too many people are using Linux." To them, Linux was an exclusive club, but no longer. I've seen GIMP plugins that are only free for use under open-source operating systems. I've seen people protest the porting of GTK to Windows because they believe it is an inferior operating system. We must stop treating free software like it is ours; we must treat it as everyone's.

    Item 2: Controllability. This is what RMS is worried about. Once upon a time, he used to be part of the scene. He created some great software: a compiler, a complex editor. Then, he got RSI. Now, he can mostly just sit back and watch as free software slips out of his grasp, as his dream of a GNU system goes in directions he never intended. So what does he do? He attaches himself to the one most visible place: the name. Microsoft is big on control. Ever see that "Designed for Windows" logo they grant? Without that, no major software chain will risk buying your Windows software. In the same vein, I see Debian Linux turning into Debian GNU/Linux after the FSF gets involved, and journalists claiming that the "true" name of Linux is GNU/Linux after talking to RMS.

    People need to realize that nobody owns free software, that it has become like an organism with its own free will. We can either try to foster this organism or we can try to control it. But like we would from the childhood experiment of transferring an outdoor plant to an indoor pot and watching it wilt and die slowly, we must realize that trying to push free software around is not the way to improve the situation. We must contribute in a positive fashion, with software, or through dissemination. We must not try to put free software in a fishbowl for only us, or force free software into a corral so it runs where we want it to. This will only lead to fragmentation, a breaking of the great network into little conflicting pieces. It may be impossible to prevent, but we must try to keep this great thing we have going for as long as we can.
  • by Azul ( 12241 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:02AM (#1888213) Homepage
    Debian, so far, has been very popular in academia, hobbyist and research circles, but doesn't appear to be a big player in the retail and commercial fields.

    I thought Debian was one of the most popular distributions out there, second only to RedHat. Umm. Maybe SuSE.

    I submit that one of the reasons for Debian's lackluster showing is because of its name.

    Are you serious?

    I seriously doubt the GNU/Linux name has any influence on its popularity.

  • by Azul ( 12241 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:21AM (#1888214) Homepage
    How many, of all the people who know what Linux is, know what GNU is?

    I would be less than 1/5th does.

    Okay, you and I know what GNU is, but does your mother, your brother, your uncle and your grandmother, all of them who know what Linux is, know what GNU is?

    I would bet less than 1/10th of the people who have heard of Linus Torvalds have heard of Richard Mars Stallman. How many times have you read about Torvalds on your newspaper? How many times have you read about Stallman?

    On the other hand, I agree that pronouncing GNU/Linux is harder.

    Some people have criticized Stallman and the FSF supporters by saying they should add a clausule to the GPL saying that the name of anything GPLed must begin with "GNU/". That is, IMO, childish. The FSF is not legally forcing anyone to call Linux GNU/Linux, just making a polite request.

    There are some guys trying to make up a complete Linux distribution with no GNU software. That fails to see the point. If it wasn't because of GNU software such as Emacs and GCC, there would be no such thing as what we know as (GNU/)?Linux.

    Stallman says the reason why we should call it GNU/Linux is to keep in mind the real strength of the system: the freedom. If you call it GNU/Linux, you are reminding everyone how it all started back in 1984. Linux is usually associated with speed, stability and technical characteristics. What is, on the other hand, the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about GNU? Okay, technical excelence, but they state it everywhere, their main objective is to build a free operating system, not just a technically excelent one. By calling it GNU/Linux you are mentioning the freedom behind it, its principal characteristic.

    And since GNU/Linux is rather hard to pronounce, I at times leave out the /Linux part and reply that my box runs the GNU OS. I know, I'm leaving things out, but I think that both the freedom deservers more publicity than the technical excelence (which is, as Raymond points out, just one consequence of the first these days) and Stallman deserves a LOT more publicity than Torvalds or Cox.

    Just my thoughts, you are welcome to call it Linux, GNU/Linux, Jose or whatever you want.

  • I have never understood why people want to call it GNU/Linux. If you really believe in the GNU Project why not just call the complete system GNU? It isn't about which programs, libraries and kernel the system runs. It is about having a free operating system. When you have such a free system why not just call it GNU? If GNU can adopt the XFree86 windowing system, why not the Linux kernel?
  • by Carl ( 12719 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:43AM (#1888217) Homepage
    I was just looking through the mail archives and look what I found: Re: How Linux Users Do it. [] Where RMS says: 'The idea of a slogan that we and the "Linux" people could agree on is an interesting idea, and I would be glad to do that.'

    It is an interesting discussion. Please read some of the other messages in that thread. RMS says some interesting things such as this []: 'But if you have seen some GNU fanatics trying to fight, I guess it must happen. If and when you come across one, could you please show me? I will be glad to explain to him that this kind of fighting isn't a good thing to do. Chances are those people would listen to me and stop.'
  • by Deven ( 13090 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:20AM (#1888218) Homepage
    Not too long ago, I wrote a short piece about the "Linux" vs. "GNU/Linux" controversy; anyone who is interested may read it at my homepage:

    Also, I just found a wonderful quote in an article about the controversy [] which addresses this very well:

    Furthermore, requesting credit in a title is unreasonable. Linus himself said it best with, "Your midwife doesn't select the name of your babies." Could Linux have been built without GNU tools? Possible but unlikely. That does not, however, grant Mr. Stallman the right to name it.
  • I would gladly place a "GNU Inside" sticker on my BSDI, FreeBSD, Linux, WinNT (gotta run it -- how about "Got Cygnus?" stickers for the people who HAVE to run NT/Win9x) and HPUX boxen. Heh. I'd even LOVE to have a bunch of these to be able to stick them on the OpenVMS machines that we run GCC on!

    I think this would be an excellent opportunity to not only spread the word on GNU, but to fund them as well, if they were to sell the stickers themselves.

    Ken Crandall [mailto]
  • I mean, c'mon, I realize that innovation isn't exactly a commodity within the free software community, but we've already seen this particular Intel slogan ripped off once for the promotion of Linux. It's bad enough that Hall even came up with this braindead idea, but it's worse to see so many people actually pleased with it. Please rethink this whole idea and either drop it or come up with something else -- it's embarrassingly pathetic.


  • by NiceGuy ( 14459 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:18AM (#1888223) Homepage

    I really don't care what Stallman thinks the operating system should be called, it's entirely his perogative. However, I think it's extremely arrogant and egotistical of him to insist everyone else call it that as well. It's not like anyone's infringing on a trademark or copyright, and for him to infringe on my freedom to call it anything I want irks me. If I want to make a distribution and call it "GNU-SUCKS/Linux" there's nothing he can do to stop me as long as I redistribute the source code.

    The whole "It's a GNU system with a Linux kernel until HURD comes out" strikes me a so insulting and rude I can't believe people still talk to him. It seems to me he's effectively dissing all of the programming work of Linus, Alan and the thousands of other kernel hackers. "You're programming is pretty good as a stop-gap measure, but we're going to make a kernel eventually, so you should name your system after us."

    Now, I understand that the GNU tools are very important and a remarkable technical achievement, but RMS is acting like a bully, and as far as I'm concerned that invalidates any moral crusade he's on to gain recognition for the FSF or GNU. If they want to make a "GNU Inside" sticker, good for them, I don't plan on putting it on anything until the GNU people, and especially Stallman, mature by leaps and bounds.

  • I am someone who is annoyed by the whole GNU Linux movement. I would gladly put a "GNU Inside" sticker on my mini-notebook next to Tux, the Red Hat logo and "Intel Inside" stickers if it would just stop this foolish flame war.
  • by Husain ( 16864 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @04:32AM (#1888226)
    The way things are going is quite stupid. GNU was (and I guess is still) about choice and about the best technical choice. Instead of wasting their effort in this trivial subject (that will gain them nothing) they should try to integrate things into thair system.

    Woulnd't it be much nicer if I had a properly componentized and integrated system such that I can plug in what ever pice I want without having to comply to any phylosify.

    Imagine a system where you can choose any kernel you want (BSD,Linux,IRIX,BeOS, or even NT) use any shell you want (bash,, KDE or what ever) use any networking layer you want (TCP/IP, ATM ...). This is real choice not having to force ppl into a all or nothing situation ...

  • Has anyone seen the logo that Debian distros put on the default Apache top-level page? It's a very beautiful silhouette of a gnu and a penguin, with "Debian GNU/Linux" across the top.

    In case no one has seen it, I have it here [].

    As good as this design is, I came across it only by chance, and have never seen it anywhere else. If it could be cannibalized (remove "Debian," maybe touch up here and there) it would make a splendid logo for the purpose at hand . . .

    (P.S.: And if "GNU Inside" is too Intel-ish-- and I suspect it is-- why not use, say, "GNU System" or "The GNU System?")
  • I think this is an excellent idea. One shouldn't underestimate the effect Stallman has had on software development - let's face it: the Open Source world as it stands today wouldn't exist today if he hadn't held on to his principles back when he founded the Free Software Foundation. He really does deserve all the credit he can get. To me, the word "GNU" stands for quality software.

    That being said, just calling any given Linux distribution GNU/Linux isn't the right way. It's simply too difficult to pronounce - that's not a way to make a brand.

    Everyone who knows anything about Linux knows that the GNU bit is implied - it is the very foundation of Linux, but I won't be inserting it into every sentence that comes out my mouth just because of the vanity of RMS.

    I'll stick the GNU sticker to my box and then I'll just stick to GNU.

  • by crush ( 19364 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @07:59AM (#1888234)
    "for him to infringe on my freedom to call it anything I want irks me."

    Thanks to the liberal, open-minded scheme that GNU utilities are distributed under you can call it _anything_you_like. You are not being prevented from calling it_anything_you_like. RMS is merely stating his viewpoint that more credit should be given to the GNU project. You are insisting that HE capitulates to what YOU want to call the system that you run every day. To stridently attack someone for stating their viewpoint, as you do in this post, belies your claim to love freedom. Or perhaps its just YOUR freedom that you care about?
    Do you agree that there is a move afoot to submerge the "political" ideals of the FSF underneath a welter of new acronyms that are more "friendly" to business? Do you agree that there is a chance that the structure of the programming community could develop in very different ways depending on which ideals have hegemony?
    I was particularly irritated by your post because the very things that you accuse RMS of are embodied in your own post. Further, it follows on from a particularly trite and irritating article that expresses conservative shibboleths: the idea that ANY debate over language is "political correctness" and that this is in itself a bad thing; the idea that one can label those that see the world in a different way as "political" and that they are therefore "extreme". All these merely add up to saying "stop disagreeing with me, shut up and let me win". RMS is caricatured frequently and freely whenever his views are discussed. It doesn't matter if any of these characterizations are based in fact, all that matters is the logical correctness or otherwise of the arguments. I put it to you that to have contributed such a huge chunk of the distributions that we use and to receive no overt recognition of this is insulting and demeaning to RMS and all of the FSF programmers and writers.
    Anyway brother, live wild and free in the programming Utopia created for you by other people, but whatever you do don't lose sight of the fact that there is a history to it and that
    there will be a future which depends on what you
  • Theres some other graphics which you could consider using if you find the default GNU to be ugly. There's a new alternative GNU [] and also some art by John Bokma [].
  • I think this is a great idea; finally, a way for RMS et al to be recognized without tying everyone's tongue, plus "GNu Inside" could (if properly applied) become a pretty powerful branding campaign. I wonder about those projects that are open source but not GPLed or LGPLed though. Should "GNu Inside" be identified with open source in general, or just with those projects that follow the GPL/LGPL?

    Maybe it's time to change GNU to GNu (where the u is actually a lower case mu). GNu = GNu is Not uSoft.

    rweems at home dot com
  • by Nicholas Schumacher ( 21495 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @09:24AM (#1888244) Homepage
    I just love it when people do the exact same thing that they accuse someone else of.

    The full quote:

    Linus: rms asked me if I minded the name before starting to use it, and I said "go ahead". I didn't think it would explode into the large discussion it resulted in, and I also thought that rms would only use it for the specific release of Linux that the FSF was working on rather than "every" Linux system.

    I never felt that the naming issue was all that important, but I was obviously wrong judging by how many people felt very strongly about it. So these days I just tell people to call it just plain "Linux" and nothing more.
  • by Zoltar ( 24850 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @04:29AM (#1888252)
    I'm not holding my breath here, but I think this is a pretty good compromise. In fact the GNU inside sticker could be sorta cool.

    The thing that stick in my gut is that this is all such a waste of time. I'll be PC here and state that I am gratefull for all of the work that RMS has done, as well as the FSF. I'm a big emacs fan (well actually xemacs lateley) and I appreciate the work RMS has contibuted towards that software. seems so hypocritical on the part of RMS to make this an issue. If his goal is to promote free (like free speech not free beer) software then he should be thrilled by the fact that Linux gives him the opportunity to do so. Idealistically the name (should) means nothing. So what is the true goal here...promote free software or promote the awareness of RMS and the FSF.

    Maybe RMS is not as idealistic as he wants to think he is.

    So yeah...lets compromise and get on with it already.
  • If it weren't for Linus, we'd have to use the superb GNU utilities on closed-source, proprietary operating systems. If Linus wanted to be an ass, I'd say he'd have a better rationale for insisting on Linux. Since he doesn't, we're allowed to call it whatever we want. And isn't that where freedom really starts? Freedom to follow your will, not someone else's?

    I'd still like to give the HURD a try, and I'll even call it GNU/Hurd if that's what RMS wants!
  • >since GNU already has the respect of its users / peers, who are they trying to get here with all this incessent cheerleading?

    Everybody else?

    I'm more or less a semi-informed bystander here, I don't have a strong opinion here either way... here's what occurs to me from following this:

    All the trade press is giving Linux lots of eyeball-time and it is starting to become a topic of discussion in many shops, including my own, as 'Linux'. (my poor braindead mgmt sticks with NT, they 'dabble' in a little Solaris, Linux is not on the 'approved' list)

    But "Linux" is at least on their radar. If FSF finished Hurd tomorrow and was able to get a GNU/Hurd distribution together, would outsiders like my management make the connection that this was a viable alternative to NT same as "Linux"?

    So it seems to me that a possible reason for this is to make GNU part of this radar-blip, so that anytime someone outside of the Linux community talks/thinks/reads about it the TLA "GNU" is prominent. This makes it easier to later replace the 'linux' in GNU/Linux with something else and still retain the connotation that "Linux" alone now has?

  • from: ature.html

    "It's a mistake to ask that question," said Stallman, fixing upon me a baleful look. "Because that makes it sound like there is one winner and one loser and it's an all-or-nothing thing. You're leading yourself into confusion mentally if you formulate it that way. As I see it, I'm sure to have a certain amount of success."

    For me, that sums up the futility of the debate. RSM knows that "Linux" is the term that will be used most widely. He just wants to get as many people as possible to use "GNU/Linux". As long as people are aware of his efforts, they'll be reminded of GNU, regardless of whether they say "Linux" or "GNU/Linux."
  • by scruffy ( 29773 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:53AM (#1888262)
    It is my impression that "GNU/Linux" did not become an issue until Linux became popular. I've only been using Linux since 2.0.28, so I can't say much about the history. Any help here? When did RMS decide that a name change was in order?

    Also, the point has been made many times that Linux would not be what it is today without GNU. However, I think it is safe to say that GNU would not be what it is today without Linux. Linux has given GNU a lot of vitality. Maybe Linux needs GNU more than GNU needs Linux, but this is nitpicking.

    Anyway, "GNU Inside" sounds ok to me. It's not very innovative, so I guess the slogan fits.

  • by DonkPunch ( 30957 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @07:54AM (#1888268) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I'm serious (for once). Someone else on this topic pointed out that copying the "Intel Inside" slogan might not be a great idea. It might seem unoriginal.

    So what about, "GNU in Use" or "GNU Used Here"? Try them out loud. Seems pretty catchy and (shudder) marketable, IMHO.
  • Thanks to the liberal, open-minded scheme that GNU utilities are distributed under you can call it _anything_you_like. You are not being prevented from calling it_anything_you_like.

    So long as you don't say it in his prescence. If you do so, he will repeatedly infringe upon your right to free speech by interrupting you until you use his terminology. He prevents you from saying your peace with your words in his presence. Specifically, he has done this during press conferences--he wouldn't even let a reporter finish a question with the word "Linux" in it until said reporter amended it to "GNU/Linux". Politicians in debate have more respect than that.

    RMS certainly has the freedom to call it GNU/Linux, and in fact to ask that we do. The way that he does it (interrupting you until you capitulate) is an abuse of free speech and an infringement on everyone else's free speech. You can correct me after I've finished, thank you.

    RMS is merely stating his viewpoint that more credit should be given to the GNU project.

    Interpert it that way if you wish. Literally, RMS is stating his viewpoint that Linux should be called GNU/Linux. I've heard a couple of explanations for this, but none from RMS himself.

    You are insisting that HE capitulates to what YOU want to call the system that you run every day. To stridently attack someone for stating their viewpoint, as you do in this post, belies your claim to love freedom. Or perhaps its just YOUR freedom that you care about?

    I am insisting upon the right to speak my dissenting viewpoint, in my own words. He has the right to tell me what he thinks I should call it. My problem with RMS in this respect (and understand that I have a lot of respect for this man otherwise) is that he will usurp the floor and hold it hostage while you have it, in order to get his words to come out of your mouth. He denies you freedom of speech. This is entirely different from complaining about it when he has the floor.

  • by IIH ( 33751 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @06:35AM (#1888278)
    Linux or Gnu/Linux, which is it?

    Personally I believe either, and both could be equally correct in the correct context.

    The GNU project was to create a free, open unix-like operating system, and as a result, there was a description of the target they were aiming for.

    Linux is the correct name for the kernel, of that there is little doubt, but when people describe the whole system, that's when the fun starts.

    If you consider GNU as an abstract description of a type (or characteristic) of OS (free/open unix clone), then saying Debian/Redhat etc are GNU systems is correct. Saying the same systems are Linux systems is equally correct, as that is the kernel they are based on.

    The problem lies in that by saying GNU/linux, are you accrediting "ownership" (for want of a better term) of linux to GNU? I think not.

    A few examples may make the point I'm trying to describe clearer

    "The GNU compilier, gcc" is GNU in both abstract, and actual (cause they wrote it)

    Redhat distribution is GNU/linux in the abstract term, but not in the actual

    Debian is GNU/Linux is both, as that was Debian's choice to call it that.

    So, Linux is acceptable to me, as is GNU/Linux, as the latter can refer to the abstraction (distribution has all the characteristic's of the GNU project) or the actual (this distribution was put togther based on GNU)

    Does this make any sense, or is this all doublethink?


  • (My apologies if this is similar to one I posted earlier; I didn't see it post and I'm afraid I hit the wrong button.)

    As many people have pointed out, Linus / Linux owe a debt to RSM for evangelizing all things Open and coding an inhuman number of important utilities. RSM and entire Open movement, though, are the recipient of a lot of current acclaim because Linuxs wrote a kernel which set the ball rolling.

    GNU/Linux is awkward; I can't see people using it any more than I can see "Oh, I really like your new Daimler-Chrysler Mercedes-Benz!"

    So as a boggle and scrabble player, I'd like to suggest the name "Gnulix" (pronounced "NOO-licks," "NYOO-licks", or even "GNOO-licks") for systems incorporating both the Linux kernel and GNU utilities.

    It uses all of the letters of both "gnu" and "linux," with no overlap or waste. It also contains the letters for gin, gun, ix, nil, and lug (any others?).

    Has this been said before? Seems I couldn't be the first to combine these words ...

    But if this gives you an idea and you make a new distribution, feel free to send me a copy!;)

  • by JJSway ( 37912 ) on Tuesday May 18, 1999 @05:15AM (#1888291)
    RMS is making a mockery of the GPL by insisting that Linux distributions put GNU in the name. From the GPL:

    0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
    under the terms of this General Public License. The "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program"
    means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it,
    either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

    Linus has met and championed these conditions. The Program, Linux, is licensed in the letter and spirit of the GPL. Now, if FSF wants to package and distribute Linux and call it GNU/Linux, that is their right, because Linus followed the rules. But if Red Hat or Suse or anyone else wants to package and distribute Boomshakalakalaka/Linux, that is their right also.

    I want to know from RMS, "What will it take to satisfy you other than this silly name thing? Is it money you are after? Fame? Honoraria? What is it you want?" If he can/will answer that, then everyone who has benefitted from the fanatastic software produced by FSF should make an attempt to satisfy him and then we can get on with the real business of building an environment where source code is freely distributed.

    That environment is far from guaranteed. With the suits smelling money, the GPL is sure to come under attack. And if there is a pile of petty bickering going on within the community, there won't be enough resistance to prevent them from corrupting the intentions of open source and/or free software.
  • When RMS started the GNU project back in 84, he touted it as a UNIX compatible operating system, and expected it would only take a couple of years to write. If you read the 1986 Byte Magazine interview that comes with most Emacs distributions, he explains there are three major parts to the system - Emacs, the (then-unfinished) GNU compiler, and the Kernel. As of that time, he had finished two, and had one to go.

    It's now been over 12 years, and the kernel is still not ready. In that time, the GNU project has assimilated other, non-GNU projects as part of the operating system, including the free X implementation XFree86, the GNOME desktop and the GIMP. These did not originate from the FSF, but are freely licensed under the GPL. However, history aside, what gives them precedence to claim these tools as part of the GNU system, and not Linux? I could easily say that a Linux system comprises these tools, plus the relevant GNU ones (mostly the C library and the compiler) and BSD contributions.

    To say GNU/Linux is misleading. It may give GNU more coverage, but then logic dictates we should include tribute to the BSD people, the X people, and the many other contributors. To give a similar example, when the HURD is finally ready, are they willing to call it HURD/Mach, considering it is built on the free Mach microkernel from CMU?

    I respect the fact that RMS made the first full-blown effort to create a fully working free Unix-type system. His contributions live on in Linux, and the "GNU inside" branding is not a bad idea at all. But his insistence on the "GNU/Linux" name is contradictory to common-sense.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak