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Comment Re:Linux=Kernel ( != Operating System ) !?!?! (Score 1) 589

Hi Anthony,

firstly can I just say "gosh, a lucid and worth while reply to one of my lengthy posts - thanks, made my day * smile *", thanks!

I think we're both saying the same thing but from slightly different angles, perhaps you more capably than I in fact ;-)

But I'd like to just touch on a couple of the points again if I could.

Just because it's "used" as a noun, doesn't in turn make it right, I refer to varous forms of Traffic Authorities as a range of four letter "nouns" but that doesn't make the Police department become what I call them.

As a descriptivist, I have to disagree with you here. If enough people use a word to mean something, then that's a perfectly valid meaning of the word. If you look up "pig" in most dictionaries, you'll see a definition there which says something like "Offensive Slang. Used as a disparaging term for a police officer." Enough people use it that way, so it's a perfectly valid term. Likewise, if you happen to have a dictionary which contains "Linux" in it, most likely, if it wasn't written by the FSF, it will say that Linux is an operating system, not a kernel, because that's what people use the term to mean. In fact, that's the what the person who originally invented the term meant, and it's what the etymology of the term shows that it means. You don't dispute that "Minix" is an operating system, and not just a kernel, do you?

You're right, and I concur on most of your responce, in that agreed, common use will force a term or name into day to day language, and that's more likely to increase as products and brands continue to push into common language through heafty investment in merging into our day to day lives.

Nowhere more so than in technology, in fact in technology due to the fact that people don't on the whole understand what they are talking about ( non techs that is, like my mum, or father in law in particular who both love what I do for a living and try to say in touch with it but really don't understand what I do - then again neither do I some days * grin * ), so they clasp onto any term they can and more so if it's a "handle" or name per se.

As for Minix, yes I do consider Minix a whole OS as such, partucularly in light of the fact that AT wrote it all from scratch ( well with some student help I think ) and the kernel and the OS tools etc including the file system were all part of the whole, that is, he didn't take seperate kernel, file system, os tools and drivers, and unix like commands and glue them together to make Minix.

Minix was built from ground up at source level, and like say FreeBSD, or the other BSD's, BeOS, NeXT Step, and others, they are in their own right "whole" operating systems. So I don't have an issue calling Minix an operating system and I love that the Minix kernel is part of the whole.

Solaris even I consider a whole operating system, albeit the fact that it's roots were in the BSD family, but through market forces it was driven into the SYSV camp, I really do consider Solaris with it's tighly controlled kernel and os software, drivers, libraries, and unix tools, to be a whole and complete operating system.

Mac OS X on the other hand, is bordering on what I see as a complete OS that I would, like GNU/Linux otherwise refer to in it's parts.

Mac OS X 10.x.x for example, with it's Mach micro kernel, it's BSD 4.4 core, NeXT Step inherited file system and library layout, GUI hand me downs, glued together to form the OS, with Mach and Darwin glued as much as they can be, and the GUI layers stacked high and deep, it is a jumble, but at the end of the day it's glued together pretty well now and the gap between the kernel, the file system, and the OS software and tools is pretty narrow and clean.

But I for one tend to use the Brand name of the "distro" rather than just refer to a distro as Linux, for example

And what if you roll your own? What should I call my Linux From Scratch distro? I suppose if someone asked me what OS I have I could say LFS, but most people probably have never heard of that, whereas they'll know a lot more if I say "Linux". And what if I didn't use LFS?

Well I understand where you're comming from but yes, I do think that it's reasonable to use the Distro name as the OS name per se, Red Hat for example - although they did all sorts of weird shit around version 9 of their GNU/Linux distro and the whole Linux 9 crap ( that was scary! ), these days they simply refer to their product as Red Hat Enterprise, or Red Hat Advanced Server, and they are working hard at dropping the whole Linux bit and making their Red Hat brand the key name / part of the message.

If you look around you'll see that the trend is also leaning the way I'm suggesting, as I've tended to lean myself for some time now, where the likes of new efforts like Ubuntu for example, they push their name / brand as Ubuntu, and although they do call it "Linux for human beings", they don't print "Ubuntu Linux" on the front of their very sexy celoglase glossy full color CDROM sleaves, they print their logo and UBUNTU, and in small font under it they "refer" to UBUNTU as being "linux for human beings".

So almost everyone I know who's heard of Ubuntu, calls it Ubuntu, and a large portion of them when I ask, are barely aware that it's built on a linux "distro" per se, and almost none know that it's a Debian core at the heart of it, and I've given away around 50+ copies of it I got shipped from Ubuntu thanks to their great web page where you can get them to ship you loads of the for nix to give away!

Mandrake, or Mandiva is it now, SuSE and the rest, are all moving to what I use, Distro name and brand building / references, and dropping Linux softly / gently / gradually.

But before you miss the point of the last bit there, Debian as an operating system does for example run just fine with other "kernels" than Linux!

And my system will run just fine with other "tools" than GNU ones.

It does? what do you use to replace the GNU tools like GCC, the glibc, sed, diff, df, date, who, w, find and such? Do you have a different set of shellutils, fileutils etc? I am not being a smart arse, I promise, I'm just curious as I'd be keen as sin to try it out.

I know that there are nifty tools like busy box out there, and there's a roll call of gods in this neat tool alone, check out the who's who in the zoo at alone.

But as they state on their home page's About link:

"usyBox is maintained by Erik Andersen, and licensed under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE"

Nomatter where you look, if you're looking under the hood of almost any Unix or Unix like OS these days, or Windows even, there's GNU in the engine room somewhere.

That's from the Debian folk, not me, yes, even the folks over at Debian, a well known, well used, and indeed trusted open source operating system, clearly state that THEY know that Linux is just a kernel, not the operating system!

Yes, for whatever reason, Debian chose to buy in to the whole GNU/Linux renaming scheme. But they're one of the few who have done so. And even then, almost every time they use the term "Linux" they use it as an adjective and follow it with "kernel". Because to do otherwise would be unacceptable to most people - when people use Linux as a noun they're almost always referring to the OS, not the kernel.

Given the vintage and maturity of the Deb and Ian effort as it were, Debian in my mind, and I will be honest here, I'm not so much a fan of Debian as a distro per se, but then I don't dislike it, I'm more a Solaris or Mac OS X nut, so I'm more at home with BSD's or SYSV's so Debian is a little mixed up for me, but the fact is that this is a distro that has been there from the get go almost, unlike the recent explosion of generation of also ran's that are springing up all over the place.

So I look to folk like Debian and say that they more than any, were there from the early days, they are part of the fabric, and if anyone has the right to call it the way it is, they indeed have earned the right.

Look, I suppose you could make an argument that what really makes an operating system an operating system is not the kernel, but the standard library. If I ran a FreeBSD kernel with a GNU libc, or a Linux kernel with BSD libc, what would I have? Well, until that becomes commonplace, I'd just have to explain it. And at that point, yeah, I guess GNU/FreeBSD or BSD/Linux would be an acceptable abbreviation.

That's really the crux of my point, that we talk about BSD Unix, or SYSV Unix, we talka about Mac OS System 7, 8 or 9, we talk about Mac OS X Darwin, so why isn't it valid, forgetting media hype and brand building for a moment, to refer to the likes of say Red Hat as being a GNU/Linux distribution, I really think that it's time we as tech's pushed this ground and to hell with marketing hype and media jingo linkgo soundbytes et al.

I love telling folk that a box in the corner of my lab is running GNU/Linux and have them ask me to qualify or explain the GNU part, and in 30 seconds they get it and I see their faces do this "hey, that explains a lot - I didn't know that!" - and so the knowledge flows ;-)

I mean, you've won over my heart (it was easy, I'm a closet RMS fan), but I still can't bring myself to say that the rest of the world is wrong. Personally I'm of the opinion that what we call the OS really doesn't matter that much so long as we are able to communicate clearly. And there's also the fact that Linus was the first one to create a working operating system, so that to some extent gave him the naming rights. And if I know the story correctly, the very first Linux OS didn't even use GNU (or did Minix use GNU as well?)

I agree that the key is communicate clearly, hence my being so adamant that we do just that, be clear about the fact that if you're running the "operating system" that is made up of bits and peices including a Linux kernel, a Unix filesystem, the GNU shelltools and filetools, libraries and such, an X11 windowing system, that we simply qualify it with a GNU/Linux moniker, I've seen some heavy hitters proudly print and badge their laptops with "GNU/Linux Inside" without even thinking about it.

We talk about Free BSD, as in FreeBSD, we talk about Net BSD, as apposed to just BSD ( and let folk guess which BSD we're talking about ) right?

As for Minix, although Andrew S. Tanenbaum wrote it, though I'm not 100% clear if he personally wrote it from scratch single handedly or if he had help from his students ( someone could help me here please perhaps and save me 30 mins web searching, or is that googling? ) but the Minix code albeit open, is now 100% "Copyright (c) 1987,1997, Prentice Hall" as the web page states!

I think Minix more than anything provides the perfect example of what we all know and love as being the definition of and open source (code) system.

Hopefully we're all heading in the same direction, and in time we might get the media to talk about GNU/Linux rather than just Linux.



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