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Re: tlug: Last night's RMS discussion (Simon Cozens) wrote,

> Manuel M. T. Chakravarty (lists.tlug):
> >Technically speaking, the OS that most of us use - according
> >to rms - should be called GNU/Linux (or Linux/GNU if you
> >prefer), because the GNU tools and the Linux kernel are the
> >two most important components in this system.[1] Which one
> >is more important is a philosophical issue and of no real
> >relevance in this discussion, I think.  (Don't underestimate
> >the importance of the GNU tools, I am not talking `cp'
> >here...without `gcc', the Linux kernel would be a pile of
> >worthless bits.)
> You could make a case for GNU/FreeBSD on the same grounds, but
> RMS does not. I wonder why not. Either it is a point of principle
> for him, or it isn't. Is it just that Linux is more popular, so he'd
> prefer to ride on the back of that instead?
> >Now, people are lazy, and so, I think (rms maybe not) that
> >it is fair enough to abbreviate for convenience to `Linux
> >(system)' or `GNU (system)'.  I personally usually
> >abbreviate to Linux, because while there is no
> >Whatever/Linux, there is GNU/Hurd, so `Linux' on its own is
> >less ambiguous.  Nevertheless, calling the overall system
> >`GNU' is _as_good_ and fair as just calling it Linux.
> If you accept those terms. If we accept `GNU' as being `one or two bits
> of software provided by the FSF', would it not be fair to say that I am
> running a system of packages agglomerated by RedHat, and so I'm running
> either `RedHat Linux' or just `Linux'?

If you honestly consider calling the GNU contribution `one
or two bits of software provided by the FSF', then, I have
to say, rms is right: Some Linux users are ignorant about
the significance of the contribution of GNU, and thus, we
should emphasis this contribution to dispell the ignorance.

> >(1) He actually had the plan to make a complete system very
> >    long ago and the Linux kernel was only the last piece in
> >    the puzzle.
> But the most important. His idea was never to sit on top of Linux, but
> to build a kernel and use that. Which makes me suspect even more highly
> it's nothing but a marriage of convenience for him.

So what?  There is a golden rule in the free software world:
Acknowledge the work done by others, which you use.  If you
like it or not, rms has done an awful lot of work for you -
so, you'd better thank the man and recognise his

> >(3) The GNU part of the compound system is much more user
> >    visible.
> Absolutely and utterly untrue. The target audience of the war of words
> is the new breed of Linux users, not hackers who already know the
> arguments, and we're talking the people who probably won't use gcc and
> won't know what libc does. They've far more chance of knowing their
> kernel version, though. 

Sure, but they know nothing but the kernel version.  I bet,
these lusers know more about Gnome than about the Linux
kernel and Gnome happens to be a GNU project.  As for the
more experienced users and all these servers, the sysads
certainly know gcc and friends.

> >PS: To Scott, maybe rms starts to call GNU/Linux just Linux, when
> >    Linus writes his own C compiler?
> Oh, you also forget there exist other free libc's. (newlib comes to mind
> immediately, and I'm sure I heard of others.) I'm not sure about
> compilers, though.

Did I mention C libs?  The only other interesting free C
compiler is `lcc':

but it is not really a replacement for gcc.  Did you know
that one of the most difficult parts in porting Linux to
Merced is getting a gcc backend for the chip?  Steve already
clarified the library issue.  All this makes me believe that
you don't really understand the technical diffculties
involved in building a complete Unix system.  Just try to
build a distribution without any GNU tools, this will be an
eye opener, I am sure.

Until now, the point that I was most sceptic about in rms
argument is that he claims many Linux users don't really
understand the technical importance of the GNU contribution.
Thank you for making it clear that rms is right.  I guess,
he had had many similar discussions himself.

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