[LWN Logo]
To:	Rob Landley <telomerase@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Is there a Linux trademark issue with sun? 
Date:	Fri, 15 Dec 2000 07:37:41 -0500
From:	"Jon 'maddog' Hall, Executive Director, Linux International" 

[Warning: Highly controversial topic ahead.  Messenger does not want to be shot]

This does bring up an interesting situation.

The Linux community keeps saying that "Linux is a re-implementation of Unix."

This gets X/Open all pissed off at us, because Linux has not passed the
qualification test suites which they use for branding.  So we get around that
by saying "Unix is a lot like Linux, except it costs a lot of money, comes
in binary form, etc. etc."

Yet there is no real definition for "Linux".

Some people (the FSF for instance) say that Linux is just the kernel, but
there are different kernels, with different patches.

There was even a Microkernel version of Linux called "MKLinux".

Others say that Linux is the whole distribution, but there are lots of 
distributions, all different (Red Hat, SuSE, etc.) There are different
placements of files in the file tree.

I know from conversations with Linus that he anticipates having (perhaps)
radically different kernels on top of "BIG IRON" machines, where the kernels
(and the distributions) come from the "BIG IRON" makers.

The licensing of the Linux trademark has basically allowed someone to use
the term "Linux" in their own trademark, but has done nothing to prevent
someone from comparing their accumulation of code with "Linux", and nothing
to define what Linux actually is.

If it is true that "all Linux applications work on top of Solaris", what
standard prevents them from calling Solaris just another implementation of
Linux?  And should it?

From an ISV perspective, the more distributions of software that run their
products binary compatible, the better off we are against Microsoft.  If
Linux does not handle the very high-end machines (yet), then why not let those
applications run on Solaris?  If people want to pay for Solaris, take the
binary-only distribution from Sun and run it on that large iron, why not?

On the other hand, I think we need some type of definition to what is called
"Linux".  Perhaps this is where the Linux Standard Base might be appropriate.



Jon "maddog" Hall
Executive Director, Linux(R) Intern'l    Director of Linux Evangelism         

Linux International                      VA Linux Systems                         
80 Amherst St.                           1382 Bordeaux Ave.
Amherst, N.H. 03031-3032 U.S.A.          Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Internet: maddog@li.org                  maddog@valinux.com
WWW: http://www.li.org                   WWW: http://www.valinux.com              
Voice: +1.603.672.4557

Board Member: Uniforum Association, USENIX Association

(R)Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries.

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